Minimalism at the holidays is a tough one. It’s one thing to say you are going to buy less, store less, decorate less, but its challenging to achieve that during a time of year when the world seems to be calling: spenddddd moneyyyyy on meeeee. One way I combat the buying/storing problem and the overwhelmingness of boxes of decor is by using natural materials for indoor decor. This year, Trader Joe’s delivered with evergreen garlands and wreaths, and we incorporated berries from our holly bushes inside. Still, I was jonesing for a centerpiece for this weekend and loathe to bring another item into the house. Then I remembered the retro simplicity of clove orange pomanders.
I’m not crafty. I’m not saying I don’t have vision or creativity, but I seriously lack the patience to follow through on crafts, and every time I try to do them with my kids, I end up regretting it, re-upping our memberships to places that are not-home and getting out of the house no matter what the temps or the inertia.
Still, every once in a while I need an activity that isn’t messy to fill an hour of time, and I have a certain nostalgia for these clove oranges that I grew up making. Pomanders apparently date back to medieval times, but the modern iterations like these have been popular since I was growing up in the 80s (and maybe before? Chime in if you know, my googling is coming up short).
I started to wonder if I could adapt clove oranges to toddlers, so first I thought- Halos! What toddler doesn’t love a halo and they are perfect for small hands. Next, I realized that if I left the clove placement to chance, I would end up with one orange with 87 cloves in a bunch, and one with 2 cloves spaced out randomly. I figured that if I could make the holes for the cloves with skewers, that my kids could practice their hand-eye coordination and put the cloves in the holes. Keeping in mind that my 2.5 year old still won’t put his own socks on and wants to be fed airplane style, I didn’t have high hopes.
Turns out that this was a wonderful way to spend an hour before dinner. Both kids enjoyed having the holes pre-pierced – I forgot how hard you have to press to pierce the skin of the orange, and they both loved this activity (at ages 2.5 and 3.5).
So, if you’re looking for a non-messy, relatively cheap and easy project with the kiddos that results in a totally delectable smelling house, pick up some halos and a jar of whole cloves. You can also glue gun ribbons on if you want to hang these on the tree, and I’m told you can dry them and save them for future years. I probably won’t be doing that, but they’ll be on my table until after the New Year.