After digging my hands into gorgeous, messy food, I reach for a sugar scrub to clean up my hands. Melissa’s holiday-inspired version is exactly what I want to use and smell all season long. If you can make the time, whip up a jar for your Holiday hosts — turkey and stuffing are messy (delicious) food business. -Maggie
Growing up in Boston thousands of miles apart from my mother’s Norwegian side of the family, I romanticized all things Scandinavian. My brother and I would play Viking marauders in the backyard, and I proudly told my schoolmates it was the Norse who discovered America long before Columbus. My family started attending a Swedish church when I was about six, and from then on there was nothing I craved more at Christmas than to be chosen to play Saint Lucia in the advent mass. I longed to wear the white dress, the shiny red satin ribbons, and the crown of white candles wrapped in holly, carrying the offering of sugar cookies baked lovingly by the elder women in the congregation.
I never was chosen for the Lucia, but I still crave those Winter Solstice sweets, those rich and warm colors, textures, and traditions — in particular, the spicy citrus smell of pomanders (a clove-studded orange) wafting through cozy and festive candle-lit hallways. In recent years, since developing food allergies, I’ve opted to share the holiday spirit by whipping up non-food gifts for my friends, colleagues, and neighbors instead, and one that’s been a huge hit is my sugar scrubs. Newly reacquainted with my love of all things Scandinavian after a trip to Texas Hill Country this year, I decided to infuse this inexpensive spa gift with those holiday scents of my childhood: orange and clove.
Here’s how to make your own – in less than 15 minutes, including packaging!
DIY Orange and Clove Sugar Scrub
Editor’s Note: Keeps for one month at room temperature, but you can extend shelf life by throwing in the fridge (good if you want to make gifts in advance)! If you omit fresh ingredients, will last forever, but trust us, you won’t need that long…
Preparation time: 15 minutes
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 orange
- Juice of 1/2 orange, freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons fresh ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons clove oil (homemade) or about 12 to 15 drops clove essential oil
- 2 tablespoons whole cloves for decoration
- 1 decorative glass jar (must hold at least 8 ounces)
- In a medium mixing bowl, microwave the coconut oil for about 30 seconds or until completely melted. Stir. Fold in the sugar until well combined. Zest one medium orange (I used Valencia), directly into the bowl. Then cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice of one-half orange into the bowl, making sure to remove any seeds. Add the ground cloves and clove oil, and mix thoroughly.
- Slice the other half of the orange thinly. Line the outer inside edges of your decorative jar (I used an empty cupcake sprinkles jar with a clamp lid) with orange slices (about 3) and fill the base of the jar with your whole cloves, using a spoon to nudge them to the outer edges filling in between the bottoms of the orange slices. Carefully ladle or scoop your sugar scrub mixture into the center of the jar, using a wide-mouth funnel if necessary, all the way to top (so your “pomanders” don’t shuffle). Secure your cork stopper or clamp lid firmly.
- Add decorative labels, tags & twine, or cards. Share with anyone and everyone – especially holiday hosts who might be doing a lot of dishes, because the coconut oil really helps to moisturize and heal overworked winter hands!
Shopping Tip: When you’re out shopping for baking supplies, think about doing double duty: many brands of dragees, sprinkles, and other seasonal sugar decorations still come packaged in glass jars with cork stoppers or clamp lids (like Dean Jacobs and Wilton, to name two), which are perfectly sized at around 4 ounces for reusing to gift portions of sugar scrub. Just soak off the label, scrub off any adhesive, and affix your own personalized labels or tags. Make it do two times the work and you’ll have a few more bucks in your holiday budget!
Photos taken and styled by Denise Woodward.
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