How to Make An Old-Timey Popcorn Garland

photo copyright Cherry Hill Farmhouse and Barn

This weekend, my husband surprised me with high tea at Cherry Hill Farmhouse, a historic property managed by Falls Church parks and rec. Cherry Hill hosts reenactments, concerts, readings, lectures, and teas, and this past Sunday, the tea included a presentation by a costumed interpreter who told us about Christmas celebrations in Northern Virginia the late 1800s. We sat in the parlor of the farmhouse, and learned about the decorations used on a typical Christmas tree. There were small candles clipped to the branches, handmade paper ornaments and a garland made of popcorn and cranberries was wound around the tree.

This reminded me of how much I enjoyed making popcorn garlands when I was a child. So I decided to make one for the little live Christmas tree we bought this year. Making the garlands is pretty simple, but in case you haven’t tried it before, here’s how you do it.

You will need the following materials:

  • popped popcorn (unbuttered, of course!)
  • fresh cranberries
  • embroidery floss or other heavy thread
  • needle
  • Place the cranberries and popcorn into bowls to make it easy to access them as you string.

    Cut the embroidery floss into 5-foot lengths. This makes it easy to manage. You can connect them later for longer garlands. Thread the needle with the embroidery floss (I used 3 strands), then thread one cranberry down to the end and knot the thread around it to make an anchor.

    Thread the popcorn and cranberries in a pattern until thread is full (I did 1 cranberry, 3 popcorns, 1 cranberry, 2 popcorns, etc., but you can do whatever pleases you), avoiding any squishy cranberries.

    Leave enough of an end to tie another cranberry-knot when you’re done. If you would like a garland longer than 5 feet, leave a length of thread beyond the cranberry knot, which you can tie to the next garland.

    This garland looks lovely and when you are ready to toss out/plant/put away your Christmas tree, the garland can go outside where the birds and squirrels will make good use of it!
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    12 thoughts on “How to Make An Old-Timey Popcorn Garland

    1. Your live tree looks so lovely! That is a huge one too! How did you manage to get it inside the house?!

      I tried making popcorn garland one year but it never made it to the tree. My kids kept eating them and the garland never got long enough to hang it. But yours is so pretty mixed in with red cranberries. And it’s compostable afterwards. Great idea!


    2. Thank you! Tt’s about 4′ tall, so pretty big. I made it look bigger by placing it on a table, plus the pot adds another foot in height 🙂

      We aren’t big popcorn fans, so it was easy to resist temptation. The hard part was that the only brand of plain kernels that I could find (non-microwave, no butter-like coating) was a cheap brand with very uneven kernels. They kept breaking, too! But it all worked out in the end.

      Yes, it’s compostable. I plan to leave it on the tree when we plant it and let the yard animals have a feast.


    3. Pingback: 24 Days of Green Christmas: Day #1

    4. Pingback: Eco Friendly Christmas Decorations by EcoBites

      • Good question, Gail. I guess it would depend on your climate, but I have found that it lasts as long as the tree does, and have never had a problem with it getting soggy (and I live in a fairly humid area). Once I’m done with it, I put it outside for the birds to enjoy.


    5. Seems sad to put a sustainable garland on a throw away tree. I pray all people get potted trees they then can plant in nature after Christmas. One Love


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