How many times have you heard the words “stay at home” this past year?! I’ve run out of fingers to count! It’s definitely been a year to remember.
And with all that, it’s easy for the days to blend into one. We’ve lost the seasonal moments that create those clear distinctions between last month and the next. As everything starts to feel the same, it becomes even more important to seek out those seasonal activities.
Of course, there’s no better time to embrace seasonal living than during the festive period! Even though most of us are spending Christmas at home this year, there are still plenty of Christmas craft activities you can get stuck into.
One of my favourite ways to spend the festive season is simply slipping into my comfiest PJs, pouring myself an extra-large cup of tea, stacking up the mince pies and diving into traditional Christmas activities.
I find that traditional Christmas crafts bring a magical sense of simplicity to what can often feel like a rushed and busy time as we all race to get the Christmas shopping done. Traditional Christmas activities tend to require fewer materials, create less waste, offer plenty of fun for all the family and create an aesthetic that’s always absolutely gorgeous.
Oh, and those materials? They’re usually already in your home! Yes, it really is that easy.
This year, I’ve rather fallen in love with pomanders. What on earth is a pomander? It’s simply a decorated orange that’s been studded with cloves. These natural decorations were traditionally used as perfume balls all the way back in the Middle Ages when the air was rather less… fragrant than it is today!
These days, rather than using them to hide nasties in your home, pomanders are a fun Christmas craft activity that’s easy to make (with goodies already lying around your kitchen). And they just so happen to be beautifully scented too.
I think we all know by now that I love a good story! When I did a bit of digging into the history of the pomander, I was fascinated to find out that pomanders started out as literal perfume balls carried by the likes of Elizabeth I and other nobles. Traditionally, a pomander was made from ambergris, rose water and other scents. The theory at the time was that disease was carried through the air, and the pomander would help ward off any sickness.
Later, the pomander evolved into the orange and clove combination that we know today. These little balls of gold were then used by witches to offer protection or deliver good luck spells.
Fast forward to today and I like to think that the humble pomander can still bring us a little extra luck and joy at this festive time. And goodness knows we can all do with a little of that this year!
I feel a little bit like I’m prepping for an episode of Blue Peter here! To make your Christmas pomander you will need:
You can get as creative as you like when creating your pomander but I’ll walk you through three of my favourite ways to go about this traditional Christmas activity.
If you’re after a classically decorated version, all you need to do is create neat vertical lines of cloves from the base of your orange right up to the very top. Just prod (that’s the technical term) the spiky ends of your cloves firmly into the skin of your orange to attach them. You’ll repeat these at regular intervals around the circumference of your orange until it’s looking nice and festive.
While option one is great for kids, the checkerboard effect requires a little more adult supervision as you’ll need your small knife for this one. You can use a vegetable peeler but it will mean that you end up with larger strips of peeled orange.
To create a checkerboard effect for your pomander, gently cut back the orange peel in strips both vertically and horizontally all the way around your orange. I’d recommend starting with the vertical peel and pacing this evenly around the orange, before then starting with the horizontal sections.
Once you’ve created your checkerboard, insert a clove into the joins between each ‘square’ for that lovely festive scent!
Let’s be honest, the freestyle approach is what happens during most craft times when the whole family’s involved isn’t it?!
If you’re feeling a bit more creative, start playing with different patterns on your pomander. Create curved lines, write a little message or draw a star with your cloves. Of course, it all looks even better with a beautiful star anise pinned to the top.
Once you’ve created your pomanders, arrange them in a circle on a plate or safe surface and fill the gaps with sticks of cinnamon bunched together with ribbon. Finally, finish off your traditional Christmas display by popping your favourite candle in the middle. Then strike a match and enjoy the festive glow as the light from your candle shines onto your pomanders!