a last minute handmade


Most of my Christmas memories include some kind of stove-top potpourri. Actually, it’s such a part of my childhood that it’s not even a distinct memory so much as the knowledge that it’s always been there. My mom had a little old saucepan, lightweight and wobbly on the burner. The handle was rough metal, and gave you that fingernails on the blackboard feeling when you rubbed your skin across it. Throughout the season, it bubbled on the back of the stove with a spicy concoction, filling the house with its scent and some much needed steam. The three of us kids would save our orange peels, knowing they’d be tossed into the little pan to simmer away.

I don’t have a beat up saucepan of my own (that’s on my running thrift shop list, actually), but I still save Beansie’s orange and clementine peels for potpourri. This year, I realized it would make an excellent little handmade gift: cheap, easy and useful!

Now, the whole point of this is to use what you have, and not to run out and purchase oranges and whatnot in order to make it. I think, however, that most people will have the supplies readily available. We slice oranges for Beans so that she doesn’t have to fight with the segments, which has the side effect of making pretty peel slices. For gifting, I decided it would be best to dry the peels and avoid mold, so I tested two different methods. I threaded a few and hung them up to dry above the sink. The rest I just tossed on the counter and left them there. Both efforts worked just fine.

Pinterest will have you believe that this is a complicated recipe, but it truly doesn’t have to be. Yes, you can purchase cranberries and all manner of spices, but again – I prefer to keep it simple: the peel of one orange; one cinnamon stick; eight whole cloves; 2-3 dashes of ground nutmeg. Voila.

The cinnamon sticks were my one purchase, but please, go cheap for this project. I bought a jar at The Christmas Tree Shop for a dollar. If you’re doing this for yourself rather than giving, a little ground cinnamon works just fine – it just doesn’t look as pretty.

Add water and simmer. Just check the pot periodically and add water as needed so it doesn’t scorch.


I ended up packaging these kits in sandwich bags because I was shipping them, but you could use any old jar you have laying around. I think baby food jars would work nicely, and so does this squared off jar that used to contain marinated artichokes. A scrap of fabric or burlap, a little ribbon, and you have a hostess gift, or something for the neighbor who surprised you with cookies. If you want to get really fancy, add one of these free printable gift tags from Taproot. 


Do you already use stove-top potpourri? What do you put in yours? I’d love to try some other blends throughout the year!


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