How To Make A Popcorn Garland For Your Tree This Christmas

For A Sustainable Spin On Garland, Popcorn Should Be Popping Its Way Into Your Holiday Decor Scheme

If you’re making a tree garland, popcorn is one of the most cost-effective, eco-friendly materials you could choose to work with. 

Not only is it super easy to use, it actually lasts a surprisingly long time. Plus, the humble homemade popcorn garland is actually steeped in tradition. 

The act of creating a popcorn garland Christmas tree decoration actually dates all the way back to 19th-century America. During this time, Christmas trees became popular in American homes, and people started to come up with creative and homemade decorations for the festive period. 

But what is the point of a popcorn garland today? Why not simply buy a garland that you can use year after year?

While the tradition of popcorn garlands has evolved over the years, with many people now using pre-popped popcorn (or even artificial alternatives—though we don’t recommend this unless they’re made of natural materials like wood), it still holds a nostalgic and charming appeal. 

Plus, decorating your sustainable Christmas tree using popcorn is a great way to impelement one of the many sustainable Christmas ideas since it’s natural and biodegradable, avoiding plastic overload, and keeping with a natural and rustic Christmas aesthetic. 

We share everything you need to know about crafting a gorgeous piece of holiday decor in this popcorn garland DIY guide. 

1. How Do You Make A DIY Popcorn Garland?

Popcorn Garland by iuliia_n

First, you’ll need just a few simple materials if you want to make a popcorn tree garland:

  • White or yellow popcorn kernels (not the microwavable buttered kind, but plain real popcorn)
  • Dried cranberries
  • Needle and fine-weight thread—Some people like to use more durable fishing line or waxed dental floss, but unless it’s a sustainable and compostable version, we recommend 100% cotton thread so you can compost the entire thing if you ever stop using it, or it begins to fall apart.

But making a popcorn Christmas tree garland involves a bit more than just stringing popcorn onto thread. 

You need to make sure you’re using the right type of popcorn, and the right kind of string, for one. 

Thick twine won’t do, and neither will stale popcorn, or store-bought, bagged popcorn with added flavors. 

Stale popcorn is difficult to work with because it has a spongy consistency that doesn’t thread well, and flavored popcorn has sugar and fats that can be sticky, attract insects, or start to biodegrade and fall apart!

Here are some step-by-step instructions for how to do it properly.

2. How To Make A Popcorn Garland: Step-By-Step

Popcorn Garland by Teresa Otto

Before you make your garland, you need to pop the kernels (unless you’re using pre-popped popcorn over popcorn kernels. If so, just make sure it’s plain popcorn).

Whether you use yellow or white popcorn doesn’t matter, as they both pop to the same color.

You can pop the kernels this using an air popper or on the stove top with a (tiny) bit of oil. Just make sure the popcorn is fully popped, dry, and cool before proceeding.  

Once you’ve gathered your materials, make a bowl of microwave popcorn to snack on and get into the festive spirit by watching some Christmas movies while you craft!

Step 1: Prepare The Popcorn & Cranberries

As noted, when making this type of garland, popcorn is your most important crafting material, so make sure you’ve popped enough popcorn kernels for the whole job before proceeding. 

Besides, if you end up with too much, then can you just have a post craft snack!

If you’re using fresh cranberries, wash and dry them. If you’ve opted for dried cranberries, they are ready to go. 

Dried cranberries add a pop of color and complement the popcorn beautifully. 

Some people even like to incorporate dried orange slices, too, but be aware that these can be heavy on the thread, so it takes some skill. 

However, if you’re already drying oranges to make your own sustainable Christmas wreath, it’s worth setting a few slices aside to spice up your popcorn garland.

Step 2: Thread The Needle

Cut a length of thread (or dental floss), approximately the desired length of your garland, and thread it through the eye of the needle. 

You can choose a color that complements your other sustainable Christmas decorations, or go for a classic white thread for a more traditional look.

Step 3: Knot The End

Tie a knot at the end of the thread or dental floss to prevent the popcorn and cranberries from slipping off as you thread them.

Since the thread you’re using will be fine, you’ll want to stack a few knots on top of each other, or the popcorn kernel may still slip off.

Step 4: Thread The Popcorn

Take a popped popcorn kernel and carefully insert the needle through the center. Slide it down the thread until it reaches the knot. 

Repeat this process, leaving a small gap between each popcorn piece.

Step 5: Add Cranberries

Intersperse cranberries between the popcorn by threading them onto the garland. 

The cranberries add a festive touch and help create a balanced and colorful design.

Step 6: Continue Threading

Repeat the process of threading popcorn and cranberries until you reach your desired length. 

Keep in mind the size of your Christmas tree and the overall look you want to achieve.

Step 7: Tie a Knot at the End:

Once you’ve reached the desired length, tie a secure knot at the end of the garland. Make sure it’s tight enough to hold everything in place.

Step 8: Hang and Enjoy:

Your homemade popcorn and cranberry Christmas tree garland is now ready! 

Gently drape it around your Christmas tree, securing the ends as needed. Stand back and admire your festive, eco-friendly creation.

3. How Long Will A Popcorn Garland Last?

Popcorn Garland by debbiehelbing

How long your popcorn garland lasts depends on various factors, such as the environment it’s placed in, how well it’s stored, and whether it’s exposed to moisture. Generally, a popcorn tree garland can last for several weeks to a couple of months if well-maintained.

Here are some factors to consider when making popcorn garland decorations:

  • Moisture: Popcorn is susceptible to moisture, which can lead to mold or spoilage. If your home is humid or if the garland is exposed to damp conditions, it may not last as long. Ensure that the popcorn is fully dry before creating the garland, and keep it in a dry environment.
  • Storage: When not in use, store the popcorn garland in a cool, dry place. Avoid storing it in a humid area or in direct sunlight, as these conditions can affect the popcorn’s freshness.
  • Handling: While popcorn garlands are relatively sturdy, rough handling can cause the popcorn to break or crumble. So be gentle when handling and storing the garland!

It’s worth taking note of these three tips, because, if stored properly, you might be able to reuse the popcorn garland in subsequent years, alongside your non-edible decorations like origami stars.

However, keep in mind that popcorn is a food item, and over time, it may lose its freshness and become less appealing.

4. Do You Have To Shellac A Popcorn Garland?

Popcorn Garland by hkuchera

Shellacking a popcorn garland for a Christmas tree is not strictly necessary, but it can provide benefits such as preserving the popcorn, increasing durability, and enhancing the garland’s appearance. 

The protective layer helps guard against moisture, preventing issues like mold or spoilage, which can be particularly relevant in humid environments. 

Additionally, shellac can extend the life of your Christmas popcorn garland to make it even more eco-friendly, as it allows it to be used in subsequent years.

However, the decision to shellac ultimately depends on factors like where you intend to use your garland, and your personal preference about what it should look like, and how much effort you want to put into this DIY.

Some people appreciate the natural and rustic look of an untreated popcorn tree garland, while others opt for the added protection and visual appeal that shellac provides.

However, we prefer the former, because a shellac layer will ruin the ability for you to compost the garland at the end of its life.

Final Thoughts On Homemade Popcorn Garlands

In crafting a DIY popcorn garland for Christmas—or any DIY Christmas decorations, really—you’re combining creativity, tradition, and sustainability all in one!

This simple, eco-conscious project not only allows for a personalized touch in your holiday decorations but also harks back to a time when handmade ornaments adorned festive trees. 

Whether you choose to keep it simple with just plain popcorn or make it pop in multiple ways by adding dried fruit like cranberries and orange slices, the end result is equally charming.

Now make the popcorn kernels and pop this article in a friend’s inbox for some simple holiday inspiration. That way, we can all bid goodbye to plastic garland and messy tinsel in favor of something that’s naturally festive.