How to String Popcorn on a Christmas Tree

Three Parts:Making the PopcornStringing the GarlandDecorating the Tree

When it comes to holiday decorations, it's difficult to get more traditional than festive popcorn garlands on your Christmas tree. Making them is also an easy, budget-friendly way to get in the yuletide spirit -- and it's fun for the entire family! Children will especially delight in helping string the popcorn so pop plenty-- some for the tree, and some for the decorating team.

Part 1
Making the Popcorn

  1. Image titled String Popcorn on a Christmas Tree Step 1
    Pop your corn. While you can pop it using any method you prefer, it’s easier to work with unsalted, unbuttered popcorn, so an air popper usually works best. If you don’t have one, you can also pop your corn in a pan or skillet on your stovetop.[1]
    • To figure out how much popcorn you’ll need for your garland, keep in mind that 1 cup typically covers 3 to 4 feet of thread.
    • If you pop the corn in pan, you’ll need to add a little oil to the bottom to help the corn cook. To prevent it from becoming soggy, place the corn on a paper towel-lined plate or dish when you remove it from the pan, so some of the oil will be absorbed.
    • When you’re in a hurry, you can use microwave popcorn or a pre-popped bag. Just make sure that it has no salt or butter.
  2. Image titled String Popcorn on a Christmas Tree Step 2
    Inspect your popcorn. After it’s cooled off, go through the kernels to find the best candidates for the garland. You’ll obviously want to eliminate any burnt pieces, but you may decide to remove broken or misshapen kernels from the batch as well. The best popcorn for garland has a full, almost flower-like shape. Set all of the best pieces of popcorn in a bowl so it’s easier to work when you start to string the garland.[2]
  3. Image titled String Popcorn on a Christmas Tree Step 3
    Let it sit. Freshly popped corn can break easily, so it’s usually too fragile to thread. If you allow it to sit out for a day or two, it becomes less brittle, making it easier to string your garland.[3]
    • For a more festive look, you may want to color your popcorn after it’s sit for a couple of days. Powdered food coloring works well to give the kernels a bright tint of color. You can go with the traditional Christmas colors, red and green, or custom color the popcorn to match the theme of your tree.[4]

Part 2
Stringing the Garland

  1. Image titled String Popcorn on a Christmas Tree Step 4
    Choose your thread. You can use any sturdy thread that you like, but some work better than others. Heavy embroidery floss is a good choice because it’s strong and comes in a variety of colors. However, you can also use clear fishing line, which is even stronger and won’t show up if there are any gaps in the garland.[5]
    • If you don’t have any thread or fishing line on hand, you can even use dental floss to string your popcorn. In fact, using a waxed variety can make the task even easier because the kernels will easily slide along the floss.[6]
    • If you’re using thread for your garland, consider using red, green, or a shade that matches the decorating scheme for the rest of the tree in case it shows in any gaps between the popcorn.
  2. Image titled String Popcorn on a Christmas Tree Step 5
    Cut the thread. If you're making a garland longer than 5 feet, it's best to leave the thread attached to the spool so it's easier to work with. However, cutting the thread in lengths of 5 feet or less makes them more manageable, and you can always connect them later by tying the ends together for longer garlands[7]
  3. Image titled String Popcorn on a Christmas Tree Step 6
    Thread the needle. Thin needles typically work best when you’re making a popcorn garland. Choose one with a large eye too, so it’s easier thread. Make sure to tie a knot at the end of the thread to ensure the kernels don't fall off when you begin to string them.[8]
  4. Image titled String Popcorn on a Christmas Tree Step 7
    String the popcorn. You’ll want to push the needle directly through the center of the kernel and pull it through to the end of the thread. Continue adding popcorn until the garland is full. There shouldn't be any gaps between the pieces of popcorn, so push the kernels all the way down to keep them tightly strung on the thread as you go.[9]
    • Get creative with your garlands by mixing the popcorn with other items, such as fresh cranberries, dried orange, lemon, or lime slices, and cinnamon sticks. You can create striking patterns by alternating the other items with the popcorn. Fresh cranberries start to go bad after a couple of days, though, so you’ll want to spray the garland with shellac before putting it on the tree.[10]
    • You can also dress up your garland by dotting the popcorn kernels with craft glue and sprinkling colorful glitter across them. Allow the glue to dry fully before placing the popcorn string on your tree.[11]
  5. Image titled String Popcorn on a Christmas Tree Step 8
    Secure the finished garland. You'll need to leave enough thread at the other end of the string so you can tie another knot to keep the popcorn in place.[12]
    • If you plan to connect several shorter garlands, make sure that there is enough thread at the end of each so you can tie them together.
    • If you're making a long garland and left the thread attached to the spool, you'll need to cut it when you finish the string. Then just tie off the end with a knot as you would with a shorter garland to secure it.

Part 3
Decorating the Tree

  1. 1
    Add the garland after the tree's lights. While your popcorn garland might seem like the finishing touch to your Christmas tree, it’s actually easier to hang it when there aren’t ornaments in the way. You should add your lights before the garland, though.[13]
  2. 2
    Place the garland on the tree. The best way to hang popcorn strings on your tree is to softly drape them over the branches rather than firmly stuffing them in gaps. Start at the top and carefully work your way down.[14]
    • For a formal look, make sure to drape your popcorn strings in even, uniform loops.
    • For a more casual look, allow the popcorn strings to drape unevenly.
    • If you want your popcorn garland to stand out on your tree, consider doubling up the strings and draping them together over the branches.
  3. 3
    Add ornaments. Once the popcorn strings are in place, you can hang your ornaments on the tree. However, you should take care when placing them among the garlands because you don’t want any large, heavy ornaments to rest on the popcorn and possibly break it.


  • It takes some time to string a nice long garland, but it can be saved and used for future holidays. Place it in a plastic bin with a lid that seals, taking care to gently coil the popcorn garland between layers of tissue paper. Choose a dry, cool location where you don’t have to worry about mice or other animals for storage.
  • Popcorn strings don’t just make great decorations for your Christmas tree. Hang them in other areas of your home where you want to add some holiday cheer, such as the fireplace, doorway, or banister.
  • If you don’t plan to keep your garland, hang it outside after the holidays for birds to enjoy. However, if you’ve added fruit and applied shellac to keep it fresh, you’ll have to throw it away because the chemicals may harm the birds.


  • Needles are sharp and the popcorn kernels can be very hard. You may poke your fingers a few times, so it helps to wear a rubber thimble to protect your skin.
  • Popcorn garlands are usually not a good idea if you pets, such as dogs and cats. The animals may be tempted by the popcorn, and wind up destroying your tree to get at it.
  • If they're helping with the project, watch children with the needle too. You may need more than one thimble on hand.
  • Don't try to eat the popcorn after it has been used for decoration. Your Christmas tree may have dirt, insects, or other debris on it that you don’t want to be eating.

Things You'll Need

  • Popped popcorn
  • Medium size needle
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Bowl
  • Rubber thimble

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