Every year, I always decorate my dining room with all my wonderful vintage Christmas decorations, and every year, I always declare that this will be the year that I will string popcorn for the dining room Christmas tree. Well, this year, I actually did it FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME! And while it might just seem obvious to most, there's actually more to stringing popcorn than meets the eye. And since this was my first time stringing popcorn, I thought I would share a bit of what I learned with you. It's FUN and it's the perfect time of year to give it a try!
- First off, try to use unsalted and non-buttered popcorn. Working with plain popcorn is so much easier and mess free. Trust me on this one. I air popped corn in the microwave and it was perfect for this little project.
- Stale popcorn is a lot easier to work with than fresh popcorn. Fresh popcorn is a lot more likely to break easily, while stale popcorn is roughly the consistency of styrofoam. I popped my corn around lunchtime and let it sit out all afternoon before beginning to string after dinner. Even then, I found that it wasn't quite stale enough. I let it sit out again until the next day and it was much much easier to work with.
- When you are ready to begin the process of stringing, pick a neutral colored thread or yarn. I used a cream colored thread, and you cannot see it at all when the popcorn is on the tree.
- I initially chose a large needle thinking it would be easier to work with, but it actually ended up working against me and breaking the popcorn kernels. A smaller needle will save you a lot of trial and error.
- Take it from me and use two bowls- a big bowl for your popcorn, and a smaller bowl for any discards. Trust me, when you break a piece of popcorn (and you will) if you just throw it back into your big bowl, you will pick up the same half piece of popcorn 20 more times before you find a nice fresh piece again. It's Murphy's Law. Also discard any burnt or unpopped kernels into your second bowl and continue stringing.
- Work it one strand at a time rather than one super long strand. The farther the popcorn has to travel down your string, the more likely it is to break. So I used several shorter strands instead. This also helps to assure that your strings remain tangle free.
- Make sure to knot both ends of your popcorn strings so your popcorn doesn't accidentally fall off the end!
- I have also thought about stringing cranberries too, but in reading up on this process, it would seem that fresh cranberries have a very short shelf life- like they start rotting within a couple days of stringing them. So I quickly ditched that idea and stuck with popcorn only.
- Some people actually spend time shellacking their popcorn strands once they are complete. However, this step is not only unnecessary, it also doesn't really help to preserve your popcorn. There are a few people out there who claim that they have been able to save and store their popcorn strings year over year. I would not recommend this as popcorn is still food and will tend to attract unwanted pests. And as fragile as these pieces are, I still cannot imagine a good outcome after a year of storage. If this is a fun Christmas tradition that you and your family enjoy, then just restring the popcorn each year and forget about trying to store them.
So how did this little endeavor turn out for us? Well, Lexi is honestly too young to participate just yet. Older kids might enjoy it. This big kid sure did! I curled up on the couch and strung my popcorn while we watched a Christmas movie. Lexi enjoyed eating the popcorn. And I do love the way it turned out on the dining room tree. I think this might just be a new little tradition for our family!