Let’s Bring Back Grandma’s Homemade Christmas Tree Garland

Dried Orange Garland
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/LIUDMILA CHERNETSKA

For those who celebrate Christmas with loved ones each year, many of the most cherished memories of the holiday season, from childhood to the present, are centered around the Christmas tree. With strands of lights twinkling—whether you grew up with white or colored lights!—and heirloom ornaments being draped with care, you can be transported back to a fond experience through the simple act of decorating your Christmas tree. However, before there were bright, shiny glass trinkets and sparkly tinsel, the dressings for the Christmas tree were often made at home from materials on hand, especially edible items such as popcorn, cranberries, dried fruit, nuts, or even gingerbread cookies. 

Many Southerners might remember stringing these strands of popcorn and cranberries at their grandmother’s kitchen counter—one of the most exciting holiday activities alongside icing cookies and sending Santa a list. Yet, these festive homemade garlands have seemingly become less commonly seen on Christmas trees—and just like ceramic countertop trees and pomanders, we’re ready to bring this old-fashioned holiday décor back into our homes. 

The History Of Old-Fashioned Edible Christmas Garland 

Using materials like dried orange slices—Southerners have always loved citrus at Christmas—and popcorn goes all the way back to the 1800s, when it was reportedly used as decoration on trees as a replacement for store-bought ornaments in many towns, including Williamsburg, Virginia. Additionally, German immigrants in the United States who brought over their Yuletide traditions (including the Christmas tree itself) also were known for making popcorn balls and dyed popcorn to be used as decoration on Christmas trees. As a result, these homemade garlands became synonymous with the American Christmas tree. 

Luckily, it’s never too late to keep this charming tradition alive in your own home, and it’s both a fun activity and budget-friendly to boot.

Popcorn Garland
GETTY IMAGES/IULIIA_N

Our Favorite Homemade Christmas Tree Garlands 

How To Make Dried Orange Slices 

To create this cheery pop of color, simply cut oranges into thin slices and set them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for around 4 hours with the oven set to 175 degrees, flipping every half hour. String them together with sewing thread, waxed dental floss, or fishing wire. You can even use ornament hooks and use the dried orange slices as individual ornaments.

How To Make Popcorn Garland

Microwave the desired amount of popcorn. For optimal results, allow it to dry out for a day before making garland. Using sewing thread, waxed dental floss, or fishing wire, tie a knot at one end and secure a needle to the other. String together the popped kernels until you reach the length desired. For easy crafting, you can make multiple shorter lengths and secure them together later. 

How To Make Cranberry Garland 

Start with a desired length of sewing thread, waxed dental floss, or fishing wire. Tie a knot at one end and secure a needle to the other. String together the individual cranberries, and secure with a knot. While fresh cranberry garland will last around 10 days or more, you can also use a spray crafting sealant for a longer-lasting garland.