Arts & Crafts, Life & Style, Special Occasions

How To Make A Popcorn Garland for Your Christmas Tree

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.

Arts & Crafts, Life & Style, Special Occasions

How To Dry Orange Slices This Christmas

Make plastic-free and zero-waste decorations, with this full easy guide on how to dry orange slices for use in garlands, wreaths, and other Christmas decorations.

I’m in a full-on plastic-free and natural Christmas decorations kick this year. I’ve already shown you easy it is to make a popcorn garland, with popcorn and fresh cranberries. Now let me show you just how easy yet stunningly effective it is to dry orange slices to make garlands, decorations, gift tags, wreaths, and other Christmas trimmings.

It’s such a cheap and eco-friendly way to bring some Christmas cheer to your home. And, the best part is they smell so amazing. If someone was to bottle the smell of Christmas, for me it’s these slices drying in the oven.

To make this really cost-effective, and to help reduce food waste (I am all about reducing food waste) lookout for short-dated oranges reduced in price at your local shop. It’s easiest to find these towards the end of the day.

How To Dry Orange Slices

Image of a dried orange Christmas garland with a blue text box that says how to dry orange slices to make decorations

You Will Need

  • Oranges (unbruised ones will give a better finish)
  • A metal cooling rack
  • A baking tray
  • Clean dry tea towel
  • Your oven preheated to 120°C fan / 140°C regular oven / 250°F / Gas Mark 1 or 2


  • Slice your oranges into 1 to 2 cm thick slices. It’s important to cut them as consistently sized as you can, so that they cook evenly in the oven.
  • Place a slice on the tea towel, and fold over the fabric so that the slice is covered. Gently pat out as much juice out of the slices as possible without damaging the slice. Repeat this step for each slice.
  • Next, lay your oranges out on to the metal cooling rack, that is placed on a baking tray, and place in the oven for around 3 hours. The metal cooling rack is essential, as the orange slices would otherwise burn and stick to the baking tray. The use of the cooling rack allows air to circulate and dry out the orange slices without burning.
  • Turn your oranges every half an hour to allow them to dry out evenly, and to prevent them sticking to the cooling rack. Opening the oven to turn your orange slice also allows moisture to escape from your oven, aiding the drying process.
  • If your orange slices are thin they will dry out quicker. As well as regularly turning them, regularly keep an eye on them to prevent burning.
  • Your orange slices are ready when they are dry to the touch (although they may still feel a little bit sticky when they are warm). Do bear in mind, the longer you dry your slices for for the longer they will last, so don’t be tempted to take them out the oven too early.

Suggestions On How To Use Dried Orange Slices

person threading a dried orange slice garland

Orange slices can be used for a whole host of decor ideas. The dried orange garland in this guide to zero-waste Christmas decorations is a favourite.

To make a dried orange garland, simply take a knitting needle, a large embroidery needle, or similar, and string a length of twine through each orange, being careful not to rip the orange as you string. You can put them as close together or as far apart as however suits your best. Once finished, simply tie a knot with a loop at each end to make hanging easy.

Of course, it’s not just garlands that you can make. Dried orange slices make great eco-friendly alternatives to plastic baubles hanging on your Christmas tree. You can use them in your Christmas wrapping, in place of a plastic bow, add them to an indoor Christmas wreath, use them in your Christmas place settings. The only limiting factor is your imagination! If you are struggling, I’ve got lots of ideas on my eco-friendly Christmas Pinterest board.

How Long Will Dried Orange Slices Last?

Dried orange slices, if stored correctly and used indoors only, will last for years. The slices do darken over time, but I like the rustic look this gives.

To store your orange slices for next Christmas, if find it best to store them in a sealed jar or tub. This helps to prevent moisture from potentially rehydrating your slices whilst they are stored in your loft. Moisture getting in would cause the slices to rot. A sealed jar or tub helps prevent this.

I don’t tend to use dried orange slices for outdoor decorations, such as Christmas door wreaths. This is because the oranges do rehydrate when exposed to rain, and so don’t last for very long at all.