Combine apple cider, spices and orange slices into a large pot. Place over medium heat.
Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook the cider for another 15-20 minutes, partially covered, then remover from heat.
If serving immediately, ladle hot spiced cider into mugs and serve with a cinnamon stick and/or star anise pod for garnish. Avoiding serving any whole cloves as they can be accidentally swallowed.
If making to serve later, allow to cool fully. Strain, discard spices and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.
If you prefer a sweeter apple cider, you can add a little bit of white granulated sugar to the simmered mixture.
If desired, strain the simmered cider before serving.
To make hard apple cider, add a splash of bourbon, brandy or whiskey after you take the cider off of the heat.
Be sure to refrigerate leftover portions promptly, and consume within 2 days of making.
Make It Ahead of TimeMake the recipe as written in a Dutch oven or slow cooker, excluding the orange slices. Allow the mixture to cool completely, then strain and discard the spices.Pour the strained mixture into a pitcher and keep it in the fridge for up to two days in advance.Right before your guests arrive, reheat the mixture on the stove along with some fresh orange slices and maybe a few spices for garnish. Simmer just until it's warm and then reduce the heat to low. Your guests can serve themselves from the pot on the stove, for up to one hour.Otherwise, reheat the mixture and pour into a thermal carafe to keep warm. You can garnish individual mugs with a cinnamon stick and/or a star anise, and little slices of clementines.