How to make popcorn strings for the christmas tree
DIY Cranberry & Popcorn GarlandJump to Recipe
Add some homemade charm to your Christmas tree this year with a DIY Cranberry and Popcorn Garland!
DIY Popcorn and Cranberry Garland for Christmas
This DIY Popcorn and Cranberry Garland is so cute when finished and hung on a Christmas tree! Plus, it’s fun to make while watching Christmas movies with the family.
I’ve got the full tutorial below on how to make your own adorable, old-fashioned Cranberry and Popcorn Garland with a bunch of tips and tricks because it isn’t as easy as you might think! And, I’m sharing how to keep it fresh for years and years to come!
First, you’re going to need some supplies:
- white popcorn kernels
- fresh cranberries
- 26 gauge floral wire (this is what I used, I found it to be easier than thread or fishing line)
- Shellac (It’s sometimes outrageously overpriced or sold out, so also available here for order and curbside pickup)
Optional: You can use thread, fishing line, or dental floss instead of floral wire, but then you’ll also need a needle.
Possible Equipment: Whirley Pop Stovetop Popcorn Maker if you’re popping your own popcorn.
I pop my own popcorn on the stovetop using white popcorn kernels and my Whirley Pop Popcorn Popper.
I just think it tastes better (for when you’re eating it), I like the way the white popcorn looks with the cranberries (rather than yellow popcorn), and it doesn’t have a bunch of other ingredients like butter or preservatives that microwave or bagged popcorn might have. Plus, it’s less expensive and, really, who doesn’t like to save money.
My Biggest Tip for Making a DIY Popcorn and Cranberry Garland for Christmas:
Pop your popcorn 1-2 days in advance and let it sit out in the open air to go stale. It makes the popcorn less brittle and fragile so it won’t break off in your hands as you’re trying to string it on.
I used floral wire to make my garland and I found it was really easy because there is NO need for a needle and the popcorn and cranberries just easily slide onto the wire and some even slide down the wire on their own. It’s not as “swoopy” as thread would be, but I was okay with that and will still be adding the garlands to my Christmas tree.
If you want the garland to be “swoopy” in order to hang them with fresh or faux greenery on a fireplace mantel, then you may wish to use a needle and thread or dental floss.
I’m going to include the step-by-step instructions in a printable craft card below so you can easily print it out and keep it with you while you make your DIY old-fashioned cranberry popcorn garland, but here are the instructions and some tips:
1. Start by washing the cranberries. As you wash them, go through and toss the mushy ones (or save them for a recipe.)
2. Next, make your popcorn. You will want to do this a day or two before you plan to make the garland and leave the popcorn out so it gets stale and isn’t so brittle and fragile.
3. If you’re using floral wire, unravel half of your garland’s desired length (BUT DO NOT CUT) and start threading.
4. Thread a cranberry and push it all the way to the end. Then add three kernels of popcorn and push them down.
5. Continue adding one cranberry and 2-3 popcorn kernels, pushing them down the floral wire once you get several threaded (it saves time to push a bunch, rather than one-by-one, but I found that if you try to push more than 3 popcorn kernels they will break more easily.)
6. Try out your own pattern of cranberries and popcorn kernels to make it your own!
7. Continue threading until you fill one half, then wrap your “loose” wire end (the cut end you’ve been using to thread the popcorn and cranberries) into a loop (to hang on a nail if needed) and then unwrap more floral wire from the other end, cut the end, and keep threading. Thread popcorn and cranberries until the end, then wrap your wire into another loop.
8. If you wish to preserve the garland to use next year, spray the entire garland with Shellac. Twice! Allow the garland to dry between Shellac applications and be sure to flip it over to get all sides. (I used a different finishing spray when I first did this garland – see photos – but Shellac works the best. )
9. Allow the garland to fully dry, then add it to your tree or hang on your wall and enjoy!
Remember: the cranberries and popcorn are no longer edible, so keep kids, pets, and hungry husbands away from it.
And if you’re having difficulty threading the popcorn, remember, stale popcorn is easier to work with because it will get softer and it is much easier to thread through the meaty (ball) end of the popcorn than an edge.
Here’s the printable tutorial with all the tips/tricks:
- Thread or Fishing Line (if using on Christmas tree and want it to swoop)
- Needle (if using with thread)
- 26 gauge floral wire (if you're using as a wall garland or want it to wrap something)
- Start by washing the cranberries. As you wash them, go through and toss the mushy ones (or save them for a recipe.)
- Next, make your popcorn. You might want to do this a day or two before and leave the popcorn out so it gets stale and isn't so brittle and fragile.
- Then thread your needle and tie a knot at one end of your string - be sure to measure how long you want to string, and add extra length for hanging if you're not putting it on your Christmas tree.
- Or if you're using floral wire, unravel half of your garland size, and start threading.
- Thread a cranberry and push it all the way to the end. Test your knot and make sure it's secure. Then add three kernels of popcorn and push them down. Continue adding one cranberry and 2-3 popcorn kernels, pushing them down the string once you get a several threaded (it saves time to push a bunch, rather than one-by-one, but I found that if you try to push more than 3 popcorn kernels, they break more easily.)
- Try out your own pattern of cranberries and popcorn kernels to make it your own!
- Continue threading until you have the length of garland you need. Tie a knot at the end to finish.
- Or, if using floral wire, thread until you fill one half, then wrap your "loose" wire end into a loop (to hang on a nail) (see photo above) and then unwrap more floral wire from the other end, cut the end, and keep threading. Thread popcorn and cranberries until the end, then wrap your wire into another loop.
- If you wish to preserve the garland to use next year, spray the entire garland with shellac. Twice! Allow the garland to dry between shellac applications and be sure to flip it over to get all sides.
- Allow the garland to fully dry, then add it to your tree or hang on your wall and enjoy!
- Remember: the cranberries and popcorn are no longer edible, so keep kids, pets, and hungry husbands away from it.
- And if you're having difficulty threading the popcorn, remember, stale popcorn is easier to work with because it will get softer and it is much easier to thread through the meaty (ball) end of the popcorn than an edge.
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Clear Shellac Spray
26-Gauge Tarnish Resistant Gold Wire
Whirley Pop Popcorn Maker
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How To String Popcorn: A Christmas Tradition
In today’s post, I’m going to teach your the right way to string popcorn for an old fashioned Christmas decoration.
People have been stringing popcorn to use as a decoration for their Christmas trees for many, many years. It’s an extremely traditional Christmas decoration.
And as more and more people want a farmhouse aesthetic in their homes, old fashioned Christmas decorations like strung popcorn fit right in.
Links in this post may be affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase from any of them, at no additional cost to you. You can find out more information by reading my full disclaimer.
Why We String Popcorn
We always get a live Christmas tree. It’s one of my husband’s absolute favorite things to do to celebrate the holidays.
When I was a kid we always had an artificial tree. It was the 80s. Everything was plastic.
We were moved around a lot the first several years of our marriage, and didn’t decorate much for Christmas.
So when we put down some roots in North Carolina and decided it was time for our own decorations, my husband absolutely insisted we get a live Christmas tree.
That first year, we didn’t have a ton of Christmas decorations, my husband had the idea to try to string popcorn to decorate our tree.
We spent hours laughing together, figuring out the right way to string popcorn, and it’s been a tradition for our family ever since.
Each year, we string popcorn together with the kids, usually while a Christmas movie is playing in the background and usually with the same amount of laughter and silliness as that first year we started doing it.
It’s proven to be a really fun Christmas tradition that we look forward to doing together.
What You’ll Need
It doesn’t require much to string popcorn. It’s actually pretty self explanatory.
You need popcorn, string and a needle.
As for exactly what types of each of those things you need is a little more detailed.
To properly string popcorn, you don’t want to use any old stuff you have lying around your house.
The butter soak leftovers from you trip to the movies aren’t going to cut it here. Neither is that Butter Explosion Orville Redenbacher microwave bag you’ve had in your pantry for three years.
For this project you need plain, untouched perfectly popped corn. No butter, no salt, no seasonings on it at all. You need the plainest popcorn you can imagine.
The absolute BEST way to accomplish this is with an air popper. We’ve had one for years, and it’s fantastic.
It makes perfectly popped corn every time with very little wasted kernels and ZERO burned pieces. It’s the absolute best tool for this project.
You’ll want to buy plain, unpopped popcorn kernels, which are readily available just about anywhere, even on Amazon.
If you don’t want to buy an air popper, you can make unbuttered, unseasoned popcorn in your microwave pretty easily. But it does waste more kernels and have the tendency to burn.
In addition to the popcorn, you’ll need string of some sort.
Sewing thread works best for this process. I prefer to use white because it blends in with the popcorn, but it really doesn’t matter what color you use.
You could use fishing line or even dental floss in a pinch. As long as you have long lengths of it and it’s thin, you’ll be fine.
You also want a good sharp sewing needle.
If you’ve got vision like mine, it pays off to have one with a large eye on it, but whatever you have on hand will do.
If you’re stringing popcorn with younger kids, you might want to invest in some plastic needles. That should help keep them from stabbing themselves (which is sometime I manage to still do regularly). Thimbles can also be helpful for this too.
How To String Popcorn: Basic Instructions
Step One: Pop Your Corn
As we said before, you’ll want plain popcorn for this, and a lot of it. We usually go through two to three large bowls of popcorn when making our popcorn garlands.
We’ve found that stale popcorn works best. If you can pop it a day or two before you plan to use it, it hardens up and gets easier to work with.
Fresh popcorn is more breakable and delicate. Letting sit around for a while really helps.
If you don’t have time to do that it’s not a deal breaker.
We’ve waited until the last minute to pop our corn on many occasions. Just make sure it’s cool before you try to work with it.
Step Two: Prep Your Thread
While you’ll want a really long popcorn garland, it’s best to work in sections. It also makes it easier to work as a group if everyone is working on their own strand.
You’ll want to work in four or five foot lengths, and when they’re done you just tie them all together or lay them on the tree separately. You’ll get the right look either way.
For added strength, I usually cut about an eight foot length. After I thread it through the eye of my needle, I double it up and tie the ends together.
Not only does this give me a doubly strong length of thread, it makes it easier to tie a large knot in the end.
To keep the popcorn from slipping off the end of the string, I usually have to make a triple or quadruple knot at the end.
You’ll need to leave five or six inches at the ends if you plan to tie the strands together.
Step Three: Stringing Popcorn
Now comes the fun!
You’ll want to choose your popcorn pieces carefully. Not every one of them will work well for stringing.
Look for pieces with a fat middle that give you plenty to push your needle through.
Start by sticking the needle through the fattest part of the popcorn, and gently pulling it out the otherside.
Slide the piece of popcorn gently to the end of your string taking care not to break it.
The key to getting this right is to be gentle and take your time.
The process can be a bit time consuming, but if you have several people working together, it goes quicker than you think it will.
Once you’ve filled your string, tie off the end with a triple or quadruple knot, again leaving enough string so you can tie the garlands together if you want.
Once you’ve finished your strands, place them on your tree and enjoy!
I always love them because the white is such a great contrast with the green tree. It really brightens up the whole thing and looks so classic.
Helpful Tips For Stringing Popcorn
Popcorn isn’t the only thing you can add to your garland! Lots of people add dried fruit or beads to their strung popcorn.
I have a whole tutorial on How To Dry Oranges and other citrus fruits. They make great additions to a Christmas tree.
Lots of people have asked me about storing your popcorn string between Christmases.
We don’t usually do this because we love stringing popcorn again every year, but I have heard of people doing it.
Some crafters recommend spraying a light coat of Polyacrylic spray or Polyurethane spray on it to seal it up. I have not tried this myself, but I may give it a shot this year so I can advise y’all on how it works.
If you’re not planning on saving your string of popcorn, and you haven’t added anything that would be harmful to it, you can set it outside and a makeshift bird feeder.
A quick warning, if you have pets that might be tempted to eat your popcorn string, check with your vet to see if popcorn would be safe for your animal before completing this project.
Looking for other Christmas decorations you can make yourself? Check out these 25 Easy Christmas Decor Ideas!
How To String Popcorn: Make Your Own Popcorn Garland
Simple garlands for decorating the Christmas tree: 4 workshops
Decorating the Christmas tree is one of the most enjoyable and fun activities for the whole family. In addition to toys, garlands and "rains" are an important element in the decor of the Christmas tree. We want to offer you an interesting alternative to store-bought garlands - handmade from scrap materials, and best of all, no less beautiful. We offer 4 simple garlands that can decorate the whole house.
Yes, no matter how strange it may sound, but it is made of popcorn. Indeed, with the help of sparkles or metallic paint, it can become very similar to real sparkling snow on the branches of your green beauty.
You will need:
- Bowl of popcorn;
- Heavy thread. It is better if the thread is of an unusual color, for example, as in our photo - white and red.
- Large "gypsy" needle;
- Gold or silver sequins.
- PVA glue.
- Make popcorn first, preferably without oil, otherwise everything will be greasy. Let it cool well, but don't dry it too much, otherwise it may crumble.
- Next, take a needle and insert a thread about 2 m long into it, the exact length of the garland depends only on your preferences.
- Make a big knot to keep the popcorn on the thread and start threading the popcorn flakes onto the string. Pierce the popcorn into the white core and thread until the thread is completely filled with popcorn.
- After the stringing process is completed, we can add some decor to our garland. To do this, lay the garland on a work surface and use glue to apply glitter to the popcorn. Keep in mind that popcorn will melt slightly under the action of the glue, so use it in moderation.
- This completes our garland. You can broadcast it on a Christmas tree, a wall, decorate any other compositions.
Candied cranberry garland
Glazed red berries are so good that you really want to eat them right there. But keep yourself in hand, you need to get to work as soon as possible.
You will need:
- Approx. 500 gr. fresh cranberries;
- PVA glue;
- Heavy thread;
- "Gypsy" needle;
- Strong cellophane bag.
— Dilute 2-3 tablespoons of PVA glue with a little water to a paste. Then pour the mixture into a bag and pour all the cranberries into it. It will be great if the package has a zip lock, close it. If not, just tie tightly and then thoroughly mix all the contents until all the cranberries are covered with glue;
- Pour 2 tbsp more into the same bag. sugar and mix well again;
- Next, spread the cranberries on baking paper and let them dry thoroughly. You will get an interesting effect of incomplete coating of cranberries with icing, but only in places, from which it will look even more natural;
- After the glue on the berries has dried, we can start stringing. To do this, pull a thread a few meters long into the needle and start picking berries on it;
- When the thread is filled with cranberries, the work can be considered final;
Cinnamon Scented Bud Garland
An interesting idea is to add a nice scent to the buds with cinnamon. To do this, you just need to sprinkle the cones with cinnamon.
You will need:
- Cones - both natural and dyed. You can buy already painted ones or paint them yourself with spray paint. Gold and silver paint will look best; You can also use artificial snow in cans;
- Heavy thread in an unusual design;
- Take a piece of thread about 2 meters long, then take the cones and tie them to the thread at intervals of about 10 cm. When the thread is all, you can proceed to the next garland.
- You can also add small accents with glitter. To do this, apply droplets of glue on the cones in a different order and sprinkle them with sparkles, shake off all the excess. Thus, it will seem that the cones are sprinkled with snow and sparkle in the sun.
You will need:
- Salt Dough;
- Thick cotton thread; "Gypsy" needle;
- Glitters, sequins, contour glue, glitter paint;
- First of all, you need to knead the dough. Its composition is simple - flour, water and salt. It should be a dense viscous dough with a lot of salt. Everyone who loves to make crafts is well aware of why the dough should be salty - thanks to salt, the finished dough looks like clay. A more detailed test recipe can be found here.
- Next, shape your cookies with cookie cutters. In our case, these are asterisks. And in the place where the top of the sprocket will be, make small holes into which you will thread the thread.
- When the cookies are ready, let them cool well and you can start creating a garland.
- We take materials for decor - sparkles, glitters, paints. And with any of these means we decorate stars. Frost effect, icing, glitter stars - it's all up to you. Let the stars dry again.
- And only at this stage we will string cookies on a thread. The most important thing here is to make a knot on the side of the edge of the star so that it does not twist, but lies flat on the tree.
Now we can decorate the Christmas tree - first with garlands...
A friend always makes garlands for the Christmas tree with the children from popcorn. Looks original. It turns out that she spied on the Americans
My friend has two beautiful children. Together they travel to different countries and get acquainted with the local culture and customs. For some time they lived in America, where she got acquainted with the American tradition - a friend learned how to make New Year's garlands by stringing popcorn on strings. It turns out really very original and unusual decoration. I really liked this idea.
When I went to visit her, I saw that real fun was going on in the house. The whole family was threading popcorn together, and I liked this idea so much that I asked if she knew of any other traditions. It turns out that this is not the first and not the last original idea for the New Year. Traveling around the countries, a friend learned a lot of interesting things.
French tradition: red apples on the Christmas tree
Several hundred years ago, it was customary in France to decorate Christmas trees with real fruit. True, once all this had to be stopped due to a lean year. But the French decided that the tradition should be continued. Instead of real fruits, they used artificial glass ones. These toys symbolized fruits. Today, some French people adhere to the tradition of their ancestors and decorate Christmas trees with red apples, which symbolize the Garden of Eden.
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Did you know that some of today's traditions belong to Germany? The most famous is the use of real candles to decorate the Christmas tree. If you decorate the tree with such natural lights, then it will look very cute, but there is a risk of fire, so it is best to replace natural lights with artificial ones.
USA: Popcorn on a string
In the sixties it was customary to decorate Christmas trees with popcorn on a string. It served as a Christmas garland. Even today, Americans adhere to this tradition. It all happened on the day when the live Christmas trees that grew in the streets were decorated with food for birds and other wild animals.
Finland: Himmeli straw
In Finland, it is customary to decorate Christmas trees with geometric shapes. Previously, these figures were made of straw. With the help of them, not only decorated Christmas trees, but also hung them over the table. These decorations hung until the onset of summer. They symbolized a good harvest. Geometric figures influenced other Europeans so much that they gladly adopted this tradition.
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Sweden: garlands of national flags
Swedes are one of the few nations that are proud of themselves. Not surprisingly, the garlands on local Christmas trees are made in the form of a national flag.