Cranberry-Popcorn Strings: A Recipe For the Birds

“I like doing something nice for nature on Christmas.”

Ah, warmed my heart to hear my oldest daughter say that. And that she actually LIKED stringing cranberries and popcorn on Christmas morning — the kid is really into patterns these days — made me proud.

Santa's elves keeping busy

Santa’s elves keeping busy

So, while my husband was hard at work making sticky buns and readying the prime rib for our Christmas dinner the girls and I used the magic popcorn trick to make a quick batch of popcorn that we strung with cranberries left over from arranging the holiday table centerpiece. An almost magical Christmas snow had dusted the ground during the night so the thought of putting something out for the birds and squirrels really tickled the kids.

Are those reindeer prints in the snow?

Are those reindeer prints in the snow?

The squirrels were the first to find the treats, scampering up and through the forsythia bush to get to the goodies, but the jays, chickadees and tufted titmouse have all been foraging too.

This is something you could easily do with your kids on any day when winter break stretches just a little too long. I’d almost forgotten how fun it is to make these, especially for the first time. This may be the only time I’ve sanctioned the use of a needle and thread for the six-year-old, which made her feel oh-so-mature. The three-and-a-half-year-old was simply happy to have unrestricted access to a bowl of popcorn (her favorite)…but loved “feeding the wildlife” when we tromped outside in our pjs and boots.

Pjs and boots on Christmas morning...on our way to deliver treats for the wildlife in the backyard

Pjs and boots on Christmas morning…on our way to deliver treats for the wildlife in the backyard

Christmas may be over, but the birds, squirrels and chipmunks in your backyard will think it’s Christmas morning all over again if you hang out a strand or two of these festive treats. Have fun making, munching, and ultimately decorating the great outdoors!

Something for the birds on Christmas morning.

Something for the birds on Christmas morning.

Cranberry-Popcorn Strings

“Ingredients:”
Big bowl of popcorn – check out our “magic popcorn trick” post and omit butter and salt
A pint or two of fresh cranberries
Needles and thread

Instructions are hardly necessary, but here’s how you do it: thread the needle, doubling over the thread and knotting it at the end into a length of about one foot — or longer if you’re daring, have a lot of cranberries and popcorn, and aren’t worried about getting knotted up while stringing. Start stringing the cranberries and popcorn in whatever pattern you wish (the six-year-old ultimately went for popcorn-cranberry-cranberry-popcorn-cranberry-cranberry once she got into the groove) until you’ve just about filled up your string. Cut the thread, knot the remaining end, and hang outside on a bush or tree and watch the wildlife gather.

Pattern power...

Pattern power…

Wildlife rating: I think the bluejays are giving this five stars. Plus the girls have been busy watching the birds and squirrels from the kitchen window, which makes this little project even more exciting: instant gratification for the time spent stringing the popcorn and cranberries. Happy holidays everyone!

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