Are you looking to make a popcorn garland for your tree this Christmas? Here’s a full, easy-to-follow guide on how to make this visually stunning plastic-free and zero-waste garland.

I’ve written before about eco-friendly Christmas decorations for your eco-friendly Christmas tree, but what about if you want to make your own Christmas decorations? Well, you are in luck, because today let me show you just how easy and effective it is to make a popcorn garland. You can then use this garland to decorate your Christmas tree as an eco-friendly alternative to tinsel. Or you could string it up on your banister or walls or wherever you want to add a festive touch to your home.

This is really great craft to make whilst getting cosy watching a festive movie, or as a fun family Christmas crafting activity. As a guide, I’d say kids who are age 7 or 8 and upwards might be able to make this. However, as this craft involves using a large needle, then I’d leave it to you to make your own judgment as to whether this activity is within your kid’s capabilities.

How To Make a Festive Popcorn Garland

Image of a popcorn garland, with popcorn and cranberries and pinecones in a bowl, with a blue text box that says how to make a popcorn Christmas tree garland

Here’s the full guide to make this beautiful garland for your Christmas tree:

You Will Need

  • Freshly popped popcorn
  • Fresh cranberries
  • Dental floss (I would use a compostable natural dental floss, like this one*, rather than plastic based floss to make it zero-waste and plastic free). Alternatively, you could use 100% cotton embroidery thread, but I prefer the floss.
  • Darning needle
  • Scissors

Popcorn Garland Making Method

  • A couple of days before you want to make your garland, pop your popcorn using your prefer method (in a pan or in the microwave). Then leave it sitting uncovered in a bowl in your kitchen for around 1 to 2 days. I know this sounds odd, but I’ve made popcorn garlands a couple of times. If you try to thread fresh popcorn then it is just too brittle, and prone to splitting in half when you pop the needle through it. It’s incredibly frustrating, especially if you are making your garland with kids. Letting it go stale means the popcorn is softer and less prone to breakage during the threading process. It’s an additional step in the garland making process, but trust me, so worth it.
  • Once your popcorn is sufficiently stale (1 to 2 days sitting on your countertop should be sufficient) you’re ready to make your garland. First start by pouring your cranberries into a bowl and composting any visibly off cranberries. You don’t want to use any that feel squishy to the touch.
  • Next cut a length of dental floss (or embroidery thread) to your required length. Make it a little longer than you’d like to allow for loss of length when you knot the ends.
  • Once cut, knot one end using a double knot. If you’re planning on using your popcorn garland on your walls or somewhere else in your house that isn’t your Christmas tree, then make a loop at the knotted end at this stage to help you out when hanging it up.
  • Thread the darning needle with the floss or thread.
  • Next, decide on a pattern (e.g. three pieces of popcorn, one cranberry and three pieces of popcorn).
  • Once you’ve decided a pattern, it’s time to start assembling your popcorn garland.  To do so, simply thread your pieces of popcorn and cranberries in the pattern that you’ve chosen.
  • Once you’ve reached the last piece of popcorn, thread it through. Now you will want to tie the floss or embroidery thread with a double knot to secure your garland. Again, if you require a loop, make one at this stage.
  • You’re done. All that’s left to do now is deck your halls (or your Christmas tree) with this pretty plastic-free and compostable Christmas decoration!

Important Notes To Consider

eco-friendly alternative to tinsel

I’ve found it best to save your popcorn garland for indoor use only. If you hang your garland outdoors then local wildlife will eat it. This is no bad thing in itself, however, popcorn offers little nutritional benefit for birds and other creatures. In winter, birds and other wildlife need highly nutritious and fatty foods, so popcorn is best to be avoided.

After Christmas is over, you’ll no doubt be wondering what to do with your garland. As it is made with natural materials it can be composted in your garden waste bin. Please note, if you use PLA-based dental floss, then do not home compost this. This needs to be composted industrially in order to fully break down.

PS: more zero-waste Christmas decoration ideas to make at home right this way, as well as my tutorial on how to dry orange slices so you can make a dried orange garland too.

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