I remember making spiced pomander balls for Christmas presents as a Girl Scout years ago. We started with bowls of whole cloves and tangy oranges and ended with pretty, fragrant gifts and achy fingers from pushing dozens of spiky cloves through that tough citrus skin.

Pomander balls are incredibly easy and fun to make and fortunately with a few tips from the DIY experts (my troop leaders didn't have the Internet way back then) your fingers will be spared any crafting pain.

Supplies:

  • Oranges (you can also use lemons, tangelos, limes or any other citrus)
  • Whole cloves
  • Something sharp (nail, toothpick, thin knitting needle, wooden skewer)

Directions:

1. Use your sharp object to make a pattern in the fruit or just make holes randomly. Obviously, if you're making the pomander with a child, do this part for them. This step might get a little messy as your fruit will leak when you pierce it. You may want to make sure you do your hole-punching over a bowl or a wad of paper towels.

2. Push a whole clove in each hole.

That's it. You're done!

You can tie ribbon or twine around your pomander so it can be hung on the tree, or just leave it as is for display in a bowl.

Pomander tips and tricks

oranges and cloves, supplies to make pomanderTo make pomander balls, all you really need are oranges (or other citrus) and cloves. (Photo: Agnes Kantaruk/Shutterstock)

Martha Stewart suggests choosing fruit that is firm-fleshed. It will hold the cloves tighter and last longer. Plus, if it's too soft, it will be hard to poke.

Don't be stingy with your cloves, says the crafter behind That Artist Woman. The more cloves you use, the longer your pomander will last and the better it will smell.

Whole cloves can be expensive at the grocery store. Look for them online or at a health food store that sells bulk spices, suggests Instructables.

If you want your pomander to last longer and smell even better, SheKnows has whipped up this concoction:

  • 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup powdered orrisroot (optional, but this will help pomanders last even longer; look for it in herb shops)

Mix spices together and roll pomander in the mixture.

What to do with your pomander

The crafty folks at SimpleBites suggest making designs in your fruit with the corner of a citrus zester to make your pomander prettier. Once you've finished your scent-sational project, here are some more clever ideas from the experts:

  • Hang smaller pomanders on your Christmas tree.
  • Hang larger pomanders in a window.
  • Arrange them as a centerpiece.
  • Place them in bowls and set them around the house as air fresheners.
  • Wrap them in a cellophane bag when giving them as gifts.

Mary Jo DiLonardo Mary Jo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.