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Have You Ever Wondered Why People Push Cloves Into Oranges?

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Remember when you were a kid and winter life was as simple as coming home from school, kicking off your shoes at the door, and plopping down for homework before dinner?

Maybe some bike riding. Maybe some running around the street screaming with your friends. Maybe you’re a lot younger than me and for you played games or played on your phone instead of ran around outside. Who knows.

But what I remember are those special days my mom would say, “Hey, want to do something fun?” This is one of my favorite fun projects we would do every winter: clove oranges.

Such a simple activity, and yet to this day it’s something I look forward to doing every year. Partially because of how great they smell. Partially in memory of how great it made me feel. Enjoy!

Cloves and citrus are the classic scent of the holidays

Have You Ever Wondered Why People Push Cloves Into Oranges?

Clove oranges are a simple enough activity. All you need from the store are some oranges, and some whole cloves. Also, maybe some bandaids if your kiddo’s have sensitive fingers.

Cloves and oranges are a classic combination that's fresh, citrus-y, and perfect for the holidays

When we would sit down for this, my mom would first make a big pot of hot cocoa and ladle it into cups straight from the pot.

I think it was probably just Swiss Miss, but there was something special about receiving hot cocoa out of the pot.

She’d add big marshmallows for each of us and we’d sit and bobble them into the cup trying to get them to melt faster while she set up the oranges and cloves.

A classic hot chocolate with citrus and clove is perfect for the holiday season

Each kid (three of us) would receive one orange, and a small bowl of whole cloves.

After that, the only thing to do is poke each clove into the orange skin one by one until you have a design you love. Sometimes I’d make a Christmas tree. Or a heart.

Sometimes I’d pop them in randomly because I’d had a bad day at school and felt surly.

Citrus and clove is a classic, fresh scent that's perfect for refreshing your home

But that’s the thing about an activity like this…it’s less about what they end up looking like and more about that quiet, or not so quiet time spent with the kids.

That was a time where we weren’t distracted by other things. We’d talk to our mom. Tell her about things going on in our lives.

We’d laugh at the weird shapes we all made and how much it hurts to be poked by a sharp whole clove.  It was always about so much more than just making something to decorate the house with…it was about making a winter memory and about spending the afternoon as a family, enjoying each other.

Cloves and oranges are a classic holiday craft that emulates the fresh and vibrant scents of the season



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  1. Great post Mary , as a Dad looking to spend a bit more quality time with my daughter , you have given me a great way to fill in one of our mornings during our school holidays .

    Thanks and have a great Holiday season

    PS: I could almost smell the clove and orange combo while reading this !

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