For the bored, locked-down and lonely

Activity: Make a Corona-themed pomander to keep things fresh

Sweep away the stink that was 2020 by making your very own Pomander Coronaball!

January is the best time of year for oranges (except not this year for one particular orange who will soon be leaving the White House and will hopefully be ‘donning’ his favourite colour in a Federal prison).

What better way to put 2020 behind us by celebrating the New Year with making a delightfully smelling pomander ball.

A pomander is easy to make. It’s also an activity from which we can squeeze many useful metaphors to help us visualise and articulate how we feel about what we have experienced this past year.

What you will need:

An orange

Whole cloves – lots of them

A toothpick

A thimble

A ribbon in a colour of your choice

Cloves have been used throughout history for many different purposes. The active ingredient in cloves is eugenol, a natural pain reliever; rubbing clove oil on your gums can temporarily ease toothache pain until you can get to a dentist. Cloves were also used in ancient cultures to preserve the dead, not only because they absorbed moisture, but because they masked the stench of decay with a scent that was fragrant and sweet smelling. 

By sticking cloves into an orange, you can prevent its decay but also create an air freshener called a ‘pomander’ which will help to remove those unpleasant odours as we clean out our closets from the detritus of the past.

The word ‘pomander’ comes from the French pomme d’ambre, i.e., apple of amber, a perforated ball, often made from silver or gold, containing fragrant substances such as ambergris (hence the name), musk, or other pungent and pleasant smelling spices. During the Middle ages, the pomander was worn or carried as a protection against infection in times of pestilence.


Prevent sore fingers by first using a toothpick to poke tiny holes into the orange. Feel free to let your imagination go in the stabbing process, but be careful not to place holes too close to one another or your orange will not hold its shape.

stab orange with toothpick

Use the thimble to press the cloves through the skin. Start at the stem and insert rows of cloves as close together as possible until the fruit is completely covered. At this stage, your pomander should look just like a molecular model of the Sars CoV-2 or better known as the novel coronavirus.

press cloves into the holes

Once you have finished inserting the cloves, let the orange stand in a dry place for two weeks. The fruit won’t rot because you’ve slowed down the decaying process.

If you want the pomander to hang in a closet, tie a ribbon around it and make a loop as a novel reminder of the year just past!

tie ribbon around the orange

Thanks to Caroline Nicholson for this great tutorial 🙂