A surprising supply from the hardware store makes the most perfect fake popcorn garland. DIY a little bit of tradition that will last for years!
My mom and I didn’t realize that our Christmas plans were going to change this year. And so we started decorating the house with gusto and then found out that nobody but us would be seeing it and we seriously pumped the brakes.
But before that moment we were going ALL OUT. I don’t even know how many times we went to the craft store or At Home or hit up the Christmas decor aisle at every. single. store. we went to. But on one of those visits I saw fake popcorn garland strung up and I about wigged out. How cool is that? Me being me I run over and pinch it to see what it’s made of and it collapses. Apparently it’s a fairly thin molded plastic or something. Looking down I realized that I was NOT the only person who had ruined a piece of popcorn on this garland. It was a neat idea in theory but in practice it wasn’t going to stack up to any pinch tests.
We left, me without any fake popcorn garland, but I was really disappointed by it. Since I had been planning a grocery delivery I went through what was available trying to figure out what I could use to DIY up my own version of that fake popcorn garland.
In the end I hit up the hardware aisle…
I have worked with spray insulation foam in the past to plug up a crazy hole I found under the sink of my new Oklahoma house many years ago. I didn’t realize that A. this business really, REALLY expanded or that B. it was a freaking messy disaster waiting to happen. But having that experience under my belt, I was pretty confident that I could use it to make some fabulously fake popcorn. And at less than $3 a can I figured I could mess up quite a bit and still have a perfectly reasonably priced craft.
The thing is making fake popcorn was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Like a LOT. I got 2 cans sat down ready to practice with the first. After 2 test pieces I was perfectly happy with the size and interesting shapes I could create and got after it.
Fake but PERFECT!
Yeah this popcorn is fake and if you look super closely you might notice that it’s actually something else but it passes the sniff test. Handing my mom a bowl of strung fake popcorn garland she told me it was beautiful. But she also thought it was real. After taking a closer look I showed her how it wasn’t in fact real popcorn but fake. And not only that, it was also so much sturdier than real popcorn garland. You know how the popcorn dries out and becomes brittle? Not fake popcorn. It stays puffy and the same size forever. Or at least I’m hoping so. It’s only been around a few weeks but it looks exactly the same it did as it did the night I made it!
And man does it look good on my little tree or what? In truth, it’s a little bit crooked but I still LURVE it. And do you love those pom pom ornaments? You can see how I made those here. Love those fun and colorful spirals? I’m sharing the how to for those tomorrow!
Excited? Want to make your own garland? Let’s get it…
Supplies Needed to Make Faux Popcorn Garland:
- Gaps and Cracks Insulation Foam
- Craft Acrylic Paint in a Bland Tan (I used Martha Stewart Acorn.)
- Small, Stiff Bristled Paintbrush
- Fishing Line
- Needle Nose Pliers
- #5 Embroidery Needle
- Parchment Paper or Freezer Paper
I purchased my insulation foam at Walmart for less than $3 a can. Prices fluctuate very much on Amazon so shop around a bit and this will be a super inexpensive Christmas craft. With every other item coming out of my craft stash (or my dad’s garage in the case of the fishing line) this project cost me less than 3 smackaroos
How to Make Fake Popcorn:
* Spoiler alert – it’s just insulation foam :)
Insulation foam is nasty, sticky business. Be sure to protect your hands, clothing and work surface.
Unfortunately with working with the foam being a mess. And me being a worrywart I was positive that I was going to gunk up my expensive camera. Cause I’m crazy messy, y’all, and it was totally going to happen. And cameras are expensive! Can you imagine having to spend a grand on a new camera because I was making a $3 craft?
So, we’re going to use our words to explain how you use the foam to create fake popcorn :)
Line your worktop with parchment paper or freezer paper (waxy side up). Attach the straw extension thingie onto your can of spray foam and make sure it’s on nice and tight. Apply a tiny amount of pressure onto the trigger to spray a small dollop of insulation foam onto the paper. Now watch and wait. This sucker is going to PUFF UP. Is it pretty close to popcorn sized? If so keep on keepin’ on. If not, try again with even less pressure and an even smaller dollop. Once you get it worked out just fill up your paper with little dollops. Don’t worry about making them round or perfect because having them all be a little different makes it more realistic.
Repeat until you have as much popcorn as you need or until you run out of insulation foam. I used the entire can because I could not possibly imagine cleaning out that chute/tube business.
How to Make Insulation Foam Look More like Popcorn:
Some pieces of insulation foam are going to look pretty darn popcorn-like already. Yay! This one gets a pass! Although, it kind of looks like a heart, too, doesn’t it? Like an anatomical heart? Hmm.
This piece of foam looks like a blob of foam, not popcorn but we can easily fix that.
Pinch away small amounts of the foam from around the shape to make it less round. Next squish the piece in between your two fingers to change the shape to be more popcorn-like. Can you believe these are the same piece of foam? Pretty crazy, right?
If you’re worried that this sounds like it’s time consuming, it’s really not. I went through every piece from all of my can of insulation foam and made every one a piece I was happy with during 2 episodes of Bob’s Burgers. And that is WITH including stopping to forget what I was doing and just kind of watch TV for a few minutes.
A Little Craft Paint Makes a HUGE Difference.
A little bit of craft acrylic paint in the proper shade turns your fake popcorn pieces into something that really looks freshly popped. The garland on the left is without paint and on the right is with. Both of those are the DIY fake popcorn and I’m pretty darn impressed with myself if I do say so :)
Painting your popcorn takes a ridiculously tiny amount of paint. Place a tiny dollop of a warm, yellow-y beige color, like Martha Stewart in Acorn, onto a paper plate or piece of scrap paper.
We’re going to dry brush the paint on. Dab a stiff-bristled paint brush barely into your paint. On a clean part of your palette dab the brush to remove any excess paint. You should have just a trace left behind in the bristles.
Dab the paint into the foam’s nook and crannies. Here I kind of went nuts with the paint so you could actually see it in the photo. You’ll want a lot less than this. Using a paper towel or other rag sort of wipe away any excess paint.
The piece on the left has been painted and is ready to go. Doesn’t it look like popcorn? Well, not the way my nephew makes popcorn. BURNS THAT BUSINESS UP EVERY TIME. It stinks for ages!!!
Stringing your garland, what works best.
The best string to use for nice and sturdy fake popcorn garland is fishing line. I have no idea what weight this is or anything, unfortunately. Asking my dad if he had some I could use for a project thinking he’d give me a roll of fishing line I was totally surprised when he popped this sucker off of an old fishing pole and said “have a nice day”. Um, okay?
Cut a piece of line (or whatever string you’ve decided to work with) that is no more than 5 feet long or it will get nasty tangled. Trust. Thread your line onto a fat but pointy needle, like a #5 embroidery needle.
How to String your Fake Popcorn to Make Fake Popcorn Garland.
Take your first piece of popcorn and run the threaded needle through the bulk of the piece leaving a tail of 5-6 inches.
If you find that it is difficult to push the needle through the foam a pair of needle nose pliers are a godsend and give you enough leverage to make it far easier.
Continue stringing popcorn on the line making sure not to push your first piece closer to the end. You’ll need the entire length of your tail to finish the project up… Make sure that your final piece of the garland leaves a tail of 5-6 inches on this end as well.
Once you’ve reached the last piece of popcorn for your garland, bring the needle back through that last piece. Make sure to keep where you push the needle back through is not exactly the same place as you pushed it through the first time. Because that will obviously just remove that piece off of the string.
Continue working the needle through the next several pieces of popcorn working one at a time.
Once you’ve passed the line through 4-6 pieces pull the string taut and snip the excess line. The remainder of the line should snap back a bit and embed in the center of the last piece you worked with making an invisible finish.
Repeat the process to finish the other side of your fake popcorn garland and you’re done.
Can you believe that’s not real popcorn garland? Because my mom sure couldn’t ;)