Stringing Popcorn Garland


Stringing popcorn garland is easy, but if you haven’t done it since you were a kid, or if you just want to see how I make mine, here’s my tutorial with teenagers!

To string popcorn garland, you need a big pot of plain (no butter, salt, etc.) popped corn. Stale is best because it softens a little, but you can use fresh-popped, too.

I also use fresh cranberries….

….and dehydrated orange slices.

You can dry the orange slices in your dehyrdrator or in a low oven. Alternatively or in addition, you can use dried lime and/or lemon slices.

You’ll also need a needle, thread (any color), and (optional) ornament hooks.

I like to tie an ornament hook onto each end for attaching the garland to the tree, but it’s not necessary.

Start stringing! Create a pattern to repeat over the length of the garland–I do it differently every year. It doesn’t really matter–it all looks pretty.

I like to use about four feet of string at a time. If you try to do longer than that, the string tends to get tangled. I double it up then slowly pull it out as I go because that makes the early stringing go faster–less thread length to pull the popcorn, cranberries, and orange slices through.

Ross doubled his string but never pulled it out.

This resulted in him finishing twice as fast as anyone else.

His reward was a second string because he CHEATED. Those Navy boys, can’t trust ’em, they’re too clever. They also sew quickly. Ross used to sew in the dark in his bed at boot camp because often that was the only time he had to work on his uniform.

I usually string the orange slices by poking the needle in on one side, just inside the peel….

…..then poking it through again on the other side, which makes the orange slice hang straight along the garland.

Or you can just poke through the slice once, right in the middle. Morgan likes to do it this way, which has the result of taking up less space on the garland. Behold the comparison:

Morgan did all of her orange slices this way, so she finished her garland last.

She didn’t care. She was very studious at her task.

Making popcorn garland takes time, but it’s an easy craft and if you rope in some helpers, it goes pretty quickly.

How many lengths of garland you need will depend on the size of your tree, but I usually use about five or six of the four-foot lengths to cover the bottom, middle, and top portions of the tree. It takes about 20 minutes to string each garland.

If you’re doing it by yourself, turn on a favorite TV show or listen to the radio while you string. Once you get started, there’s a peaceful, rhythmic quality to it and you’ll feel so much satisfaction when you drape the beautiful garlands on your tree.

I had the kids each do one length while I did one, then I finished up with a couple more. Asking teenagers to string more than one four-foot length of garland is a bridge too far, especially if they are boys.

I don’t feel like my tree is “finished” until there is popcorn garland on it.

It’s quaint and old-fashioned. I decorate my tree with ornaments that are either sentimental or vintage or homemade–lots of gingerbread men and cookie stars, and always, always, always, my popcorn garland.

After Christmas, I pull the popcorn, cranberries, and orange slices off the threads–it all comes off pretty quickly. I pull it off over a big bowl or pan. The popcorn and cranberries go to the birds and chickens. The orange slices go into a potpourri bowl.

Or, you can always wear a popcorn garland as a necklace!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on December 22, 2010  

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25 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 12-22

    I tried doing just popcorn one year but our dog kept trying to eat it lol. Maybe the orange slices keep them away? You have a lovely tree and it looks like fun was had by all (even if the boys didn’t smile hahaha).

  2. 12-22

    Love that last photo! Sneaky Navy guys. :)

  3. 12-22

    I love that you can get your teenagers/adult children to help you at Christmas……..Most impressive… :)

    And of course, I love the fruit and popcorn garland too!!!

  4. 12-22

    Love the garlands! Love the fact that Ross doesn’t mind having his photo’s taken and put in blog land!! That boy has become a man!GO NAVY!
    Merry Christmas!

  5. 12-22

    Absolutely Beautiful. Love those garlands Suzanne! It must be wonderful having all three kids with you right now. Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas!

  6. 12-22

    :reindeer: Beautiful tree! I’m gonna have to make some of that garland next year. I’m so glad you are having this wonderful time with your children! :snoopy:

  7. 12-22

    I am so impressed you were able to get all your children to help. Your tree is beautiful.

  8. 12-22

    One year I had popcorn garland…. and I had MICE in my tree! It drove the dog crazy.

  9. 12-22

    I love all of this but most of all I love seen Ross and your kids at home for the holidays.
    Merry Christmas to you all.

  10. 12-22

    Many years ago, during the beauty salon days we decided to string popcorn for the large tree we had in the shop, so we popped big bags of pop corn and took them in to the salon, while the ladies were under the dryer we gave them a container of popcorn with a threaded needle and let them string popcorn for the tree, they enjoyed it and it made the time under the dryer go faster, after Christmas we hung it out for the birds. Home made is so nice.

  11. 12-22

    Your tree is gorgeous!! I thank you (and your kids) for sharing your traditions.. they are wonderful.

    Merry Christmas to you all!

  12. 12-22

    Your tree looks so beautiful. Kids are looking like they are having fun too. Merry Christmas to you and your family!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. 12-22

    You’ve inspired me. Next year our tree will have a popcorn garland with cranberries and orange slices – LOVE the orange slices! Thanks for posting the how-to. Cherish the time with all three of your kids this Christmas. My daughter just moved 1000 miles away and I’m missing her and my 3 grandsons SO much.

  14. 12-22

    Love the part where the young man comes home for Christmas. Go NAVY!
    It’s really nice to see your kids all participating together. Thanks for another
    homespun post.

  15. 12-23

    Your tree is very pretty! Stringing the popcorn garland is a great way to spend some family time. During the last couple wks Baby Brooke leaves my house with a little bag of homemade child safe ornaments, a card for her mommy that we make together and treats of course,haha!

  16. 12-23

    I can’t wait to try this next year! I’ve always wanted to try a cranberry popcorn garland. And… what is your gingerbread man recipe? They look so sturdy! Do you eat them after Christmas or do you feed them to the goats?

  17. 12-23

    Sarah, I feed them to the goats after Christmas. The recipe is here:

  18. 12-23

    Your tree is beautiful!! And everyone worked on it…memories to cherish :snuggle:

    So maybe if I stopped doing the oranges like Morgan and started stringing like Ross, I could get through more than just a couple strands before A.D.D. sets in and I have to find something else to do?

  19. 12-23


    The kids are growing up, aren’t they? It’s been fun watching them turn into such good looking adults.

    What are the “boys” reading on the table?


  20. 12-23

    Your tree is lovely. It must feel great to have all the kids home for Christmas.

  21. 12-23

    Oh how beautiful, Suzanne!!! The tree AND your kids! So good to see Ross there stringing away with his brother and sister…..good to see your gorgeous tree with all the pretty ornaments. And I had my office co-workers string popcorn and cranberries for our office tree this year, also! Most of the people had never strung garland and they loved it. We had a 7 ft tree and everyone did a three foot strand and it looked great.
    Many, many Merry Christmases to you and yours. God bless and keep you all safe.

  22. 12-23

    It’s so nice to see you with all three kids! Ross is getting better about having his picture taken I see?? Merry Christmas Suzanne!

  23. 12-23

    LOL…it would have to be stale to keep us from eating all the popcorn.

    Merry XMAS.

  24. 2-10

    i’m making a popcorn garland as a decoration for a friend’s party… thank you for posting this! my daughter and i enjoyed learning from your pics!

  25. 10-21

    We did popcorn and cranberries when I was little, I remember because we woke up in the middle of the night to my dad yelling because the dog had knocked the whole tree over to get it. What if Clover snuck inside again? You might have to keep a better eye on her in December.

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