Christmas garland that is reminiscent of years gone by is a welcome touch even in the most modern home. Popcorn and cranberries are the ideal media to take your senses on a journey back to holiday celebrations of the pioneers. Simplistic decor made from food obviously will not keep beyond the tree’s stay, but it does provide an opportunity for inexpensive, productive family time. Don’t worry about waste; show a spirit of generosity by unthreading the goodies and tossing them to your feathered or furry friends -- or into a compost for a nutrient-hungry spring garden -- after the holidays.
Pop two or three large bowls of air-popped popcorn or unbuttered microwave popcorn. The larger your tree, the more popcorn required for the garland. Leave the bowls uncovered overnight. Popcorn that is a day or two old and slightly stale is less brittle and easier to work with.
Spread a protective dropcloth, such as painter’s plastic or old bedsheets over the floor in the area where you will be working to avoid stains from the cranberries. Put on old clothing. Protect a tabletop with plastic or with an inexpensive vinyl tablecloth.
Cut a 3 to 4 foot length of fishing line. Form a knot in the line about 1 foot from one end.
Thread the unknotted end of the fishing line onto a tapestry needle or ballpoint needle, which has a safe, dull tip. Leave a fishing-line “tail” of at least 1 foot to help keep the needle in place. Rather than using fishing line, double-thread and knot a 6 to 8 foot length of durable nylon thread onto the needle. Doubled thread may be easier for a child to work with.
Push a cranberry onto the needle. Slide the berry to the knotted end of the line or thread. Use whole, fresh cranberries. Bags of whole cranberries are typically available in a grocer’s produce isle around the holidays.
Thread one, two or three pieces of popcorn into place next to the cranberry, depending on the look that you are after. The more popcorn you use, the less cranberries you need. Repeat the cranberry and popcorn threading pattern until you have filled the fishing line to about 1 foot from the unknotted end.
Remove the needle by sliding it off the line or cutting it from the thread. Make a large knot close the last strung cranberry or piece of popcorn to keep them in place.
Continue to make lengths of garland in the same fashion as the first garland until you have enough for your Christmas tree. Tie the lengths together using the free thread or line at the ends. Drape the garland in casual swoops around the tree working from the top down.