Pomanders: An Old-Time Christmas Decoration

Dec 8, 2015

The thing I like most about being a Parks Canada heritage presenter is that I get to share stories.

One of my favorite stories to tell is about what Christmas used to be like for children living at Fort Wellington 200 years ago. With this Club Parka activity, children can create their own Christmas craft — just like it was done in the 19th century! (You see, helping with decorations is one of the jobs that children would do (besides helping with the cooking).) 

Cirtus fruits used to be imported from faraway countries and they were very expensive. Since the fruit would take weeks to get to North America by ship, a lot of the fruit would spoil.

These clove-studded orange ornaments, called pomanders, would've been a good way to use bad fruit. 

To this day, pomanders are still a great craft for kids! They smell amazing — perfect for a holiday gift or scented decoration. 

You Will Need:

  • something with a pointed tip (e.g. letter opener)
  • oranges or other citrus fruits
  • cloves
  • marker
  • ribbon (optional)

Supplies for orange pomanders.


1. Draw small dots to mark where you would like to put cloves in your fruit. 

Three oranges with designed drawn on them.

2. Younger kids will need an adult to help with this step: poke each hole with the tip of the letter opener.

3. Insert one clove into each of the holes.

Oranges studded with cloves.

4. If you'd like, tie a ribbon around your pomander.

5. Place your pomander on a plate to decorate your Christmas table!

A pomander centrepiece.

With this craft, you've created a beautiful decoration while spending time together! For families at Fort Wellington, spending time together was the best part about Christmas.

Your house now looks (and smells) like a Victorian Christmas!

Leslie MacPherson is an interpreter at Fort Wellington National Historic Site.

Article Author Club Parka, Parks Canada
Club Parka, Parks Canada

Read more from Parks Canada here.

Club Parka is a Parks Canada program for preschoolers at national parks and historic sites across the country. Kids can take part in the program online, too!

Visit to download activity pages and get to know Parka, the busy little beaver who helps kids explore the world around them.

You can watch Parka weekday mornings on CBC TV following each episode of Chirp.

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