This is a treat from my childhood. I can remember do this with my mum. They are easy to make and your house will smell wonderful. There are ways to dry them out using orris root and letting the orange sit in a paper bag for a month, but frankly who wants that? They come out all brown and shrived like the shrunken head of a missionary. This way they look and smell beautiful and when they start to go off put them in your compost and your food scraps will smell heavenly!
Some whole cloves
A large pin like a safety pin--saves your thumb from getting sore
Some red ribbon (optional but nice)
Decide what pattern you want on the orange. I like to do stripes--single and double row--but do what you like. You can even go crazy and cover the whole thing, but I have not got the patience for that.
Poke a hole with your pin and wiggle it about ever so slightly. A drop of orange oil may appear-- this is good. Pick up a whole clove and shove it in the hole you made. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Etc etc etc until your design is how you like it. You will notice that pushing the clove into the hole makes your thumb sore. Imagine if you didn’t have the pin to make a starter hole! I know you were thinking you’d be all tough and manly and do it without the pin, but aren’t you glad you followed the directions? Because drops of blood from your thumb would spoil it. Ask me how I know this. This is why I use a pin.
Then tie it up with some festive ribbon you happen to have laying about. I am a crafty person so I always have a bit o’ festive ribbon laying about.
It looks pretty enough to eat! And you could, too. You could boil it in some red wine or pomegranate juice (sans ribbon) to make a wassail but I think they make a wonderful centre piece for your table at Christmas.