Poms, pomander balls, kissing balls – I never know what to call these things!
What I do know is that these adorable decorations are simply stunning and look fabulous hanging at weddings, parties, or even around the house for holidays and celebrations. They’re also my new favorite DIY project and you won’t believe how fun they are to create!
They can be time consuming (especially these ones made from coffee filters) but you will love the results of your effort and just may find yourself making them for every occasion possible. (Guilty.) Just a warning: this post is loooong and picture heavy. So grab a cup of coffee and a snack and settle in for some fun!
How about a little interesting background to start us off?
Kissing Balls, Pomanders, & Poms
These adorable decorations have long and interesting histories each dating back to at least the Middle Ages. Modern times find them showcased at weddings, hanging for the holidays, and, sometimes, as in my case – hanging in the home year round ’cause they’re just so precious.
Kissing balls are traditionally made of natural materials: flowers, twigs, evergreen branches, berries, and the like. Their use dates back to the Middle Ages when people used them as Christmas decorations (though usually secretly, as outward Christianity and symbolic gestures were frowned upon), but by the time Queen Victoria reigned they were widely accepted and sought after (oh how I heart the Victorian era!) Soon the kissing ball became a year-round party tradition and would be hung for – you guessed it – a guilt free smooch opportunity! Lines of unwed fellas and ladies would queue to meet for a delicate peck under the kissing ball. Nowadays, a simple twig of mistletoe replaces the tradition.
Pomanders, what we sometimes call “poms”, were the original anti body odor agent. In the Middle Ages when hygiene was minimal, people would carry or wear small balls (usually made of some sort of metal; the rich had silver or gold) filled with fragrant herbs or perfumes. Technically, modern day pomanders still purpose to fragrant the air, such as an orange pierced with cloves – but quite often the term simply refers to a round shaped decoration.
Pom-pons (think cheerleader) is a french derived word meaning a small decorative ball. This term is probably the most technically accurate when referring to modern day decorations and even those carried by bridal parties. In my home, I make “poms” for nearly every holiday and occasion because they’re quite simple to create and beautiful to look at. I call them everything from “poms”, “pomanders”, and if I want a free smooch, well, then they’re called a “kissing ball”!
So never-mind what you want to call them (you will see I’m non-committal in my term usage), let’s make them! This time, we’re using one of my favorite crafting materials: coffee filters.
Coffee Filter Flower Poms
This project will be featured in two parts: 1. Coffee Filter Prep and 2. Pom Construction.
Coffee Filter Prep:
This year, I decided, the front porch would feature a “colonial” Independence Day aesthetic. I visited nearly every store in town and finally lucked out at The Christmas Tree Shops (do you have one in your area? I hope so, this place is awesome!) where I found antiquated-looking 72″ bunting for a mere $7.99 each. Outstanding!
In the photo’s bottom right corner you’ll find a stack of “natural” coffee filters, which matched near perfectly. Now for the red and blue.
For an antiqued look, mix 2 cups or so of water with 3 parts colored paint and 1 part black.
See what’s happening here?
Hang outside to dry. Be sure to clip them as even slight gusts of wind will carry them far, far away. On rainy days you can lay them out individually on countertops, tables, etc. but the drying time is significantly increased. Outdoors, it takes a mere 15-20 minutes when spread out in a single layer.
Little ones love to help. Lil E’Boo’s favorite part is smashing the coffee filters into the paint mixture, second to stirring, but as she loves to be included you can find her battling the wind and clothespin in great efforts to help hang. (Please excuse the tattered chairs. That is a project for another day.)
Bring them in. I couldn’t get them as dark as I had hoped (I probably should have used navy instead of “blue”), but now that it’s complete I actually love the romantic feel of the lighter hue.
Now, let’s turn them into flowers!
Coffee Filter Flowers:
Credit: I learned how to perfect coffee filter flowers from Aunt Peaches: Friday Flowers Coffee Filter Bouquet. If you think you’ve “made” coffee filter flowers as a kid, think again. You’ve NEVER made them like she can. Genius.
She’s also the one who inspired this year’s Mother’s Day gifts. If you’ve never had the reading pleasure of Aunt Peaches you better hurry over. Like now. She is hilarious – and you will love her story that goes with the tutorial. (Um, just don’t forget to come back!)
Here’s an abbreviated, Aunt Peaches inspired, tutorial. For full details and helpful hints visit the above link to her site:
Each flower requires 6 filters. Think of your flower in 3 layers.
Layer 1 = 1 filter
Layer 2 = 2 filters
Layer 3 = 3 filters
Step One: Take one coffee filter (layer 1)
Step Two: Grab in center. Twist to form a “nub”
Step Three: While holding “nub” continue twisting until flower forms.
Step Four: Repeat with Layer 2 (2 filters)
Step Five: Repeat with Layer 3 (3 filters)
Step Six: Flower Complete. Hold “nub” tightly.
Next, secure with floral pick tool:
Repeat a gazillion times:
If you want specifics:
4″ Styrofoam balls require 12-14 flowers (72-84 filters)
6″ Styrofoam balls require 24-28 flowers (144-168 filters)
I made four 4″ balls and two 6″ balls, so I made a gazillion flowers. See how that math works?
Luckily, coffee filters run for about a dollar per 200 pack, so this entire project was made for less than $15. Twine is always on hand around here, but the styrofoam balls are frustratingly expensive and are never on sale. Thank you craft store coupons. Moving on…
Now prep your styrofoam ball for hanging:
Finally, add the flowers:
As many as I’ve made, I’ve yet to find a tried-and-true method for perfecting pom construction. So usually, I just start at the top and continue down. Quite often I pluck them out and fiddle with placement until my styrofoam ball resembles swiss cheese and I’m forced to stop because if the ball suffers one more hole it wall fall completely apart.
So, yeah. If you discover a reliable method to the madness I implore you to share.
After hanging them on the porch for a few days a heavy rain threatened to destroy them forever, so I lovingly brought them back inside to be hung on each ground level window. My sister said “these poufs are weird; they do not belong on your windows” BUT my brother’s girlfriend said they were “beautiful” and agreed that they should be prominently displayed. Guess who’s opinion I like more?
Shall we tour?