popcorn and cranberries

We made popcorn and cranberry strings this weekend. It’s a family tradition. My mom always made them for our trees as I was growing up, and we have always had them on our living room tree for the 30 years of our marriage. After a long day of decorating, stringing popcorn and cranberries is a great sit-down-and-rest-your-feet-while-you-watch-a-movie job.

six bags of cranberries

It takes six bags of cranberries to make enough strings to decorate the 9′ living room tree.

almost done

We make the strings about as long as this table. They are easy to carry into the living room and attach one section at a time. We leave a 4-6″ tail on each end and tie those together when the string goes on the tree. I like to hang them with ornament hooks to give the loops a nice scalloped definition.

Here’s a hint for stringing popcorn and cranberries – the popcorn will string more easily if it is a day or two old. Freshly popped corn can certainly be used, but it breaks more easily. We use loose popcorn, not microwave popcorn, for the strings. It takes a lot. DH popped three large bowls full and we used it all. I like to use Orville Redenbacher’s white popping corn. It pops large and has a clean white color. Can’t always find that, though (like this year), so we used Orville’s yellow popping corn.

We use regular white or ivory sewing thread and a regular hand sewing needle for stringing. We double the thread and tie a knot 4-6″ from the end. We start with a cranberry and thread through it twice to keep it from slipping off the end. And we finish the section with a popcorn, but do not tie that end with a knot. Be sure to lay your strings out with the knotted end at the same end of the table, so you can easily pick up the popcorn end to prevent the popcorn and cranberries from slipping off the string.

I am often asked if we save the strings from year to year. No, we don’t. The cranberries turn into craisins and the popcorn shrinks, too. By the end of the season, some of the strings are showing gaps. In the past, I have tried setting them outside for the birds, but they have never shown interest in eating them.



  1. Posted November 25, 2007 at 6:04 pm | Permalink


    That’s a lot of cranberries and popcorn! I bet your fingers hurt after threading all of that! But it sure looks fantastic! And the traditions you are passing down are amazing!

  2. Posted November 27, 2007 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    Really good and really interesting post. I expect (and other readers maybe :)) new useful posts from you!
    Good luck and successes in blogging!

  3. Lori Cichacki
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    thank you so much…this will be my first year trying to string popcorn and cranberries. I hope to start a tradition like yours 🙂

  4. Kathy DeKoter
    Posted December 8, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing about your experience with popcorn strings and cranberry strings – it is good to hear that it is possible to do and all of your practical advice!

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  1. By Rondas Ramblings | 1st of 12 days to Christmas on January 11, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    […] And we’ll begin our cranberry/popcorn stringing: http://christmasnotebook.com/2007/11/19/popcorn-and-cranberries/ […]

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