Popping Up Festive Holiday Fun

(Family Features) During a holiday season that may not quite feel the same for many families, you can add a magic touch to at-home festivities with activities and treats that get everyone involved. Creating decorative holiday sweets allows little ones and grown-ups alike to take part in the fun, and the end result is delicious desserts for all to enjoy.


Start with a main ingredient like whole-grain, freshly popped popcorn. At 30 calories a cup, it’s naturally low in fat, non-GMO and gluten-free for a nutritious alternative to traditional holiday indulgences. It’s a clever way to create artsy representations of the season at hand that celebrate festive flavors like peppermint, coconut, chocolate and other sweet eats.


For example, Coconut Popcorn Snowballs add fun and flavor to wintertime with a coat of sweetened coconut “snow” and candy cane handle while easy-to-construct Holiday Popcorn Snowmen are sure to be a hit with your children. Add to the holiday spirit throughout your home with wintery Jingle Balls that call for colored sugars to create a magical sparkling effect then take the creativity to the next level by encouraging kids to make their own red-nosed, sleigh-pulling team of Chocolate Popcorn Reindeer.


Discover more decorative dessert recipes at popcorn.org.


Coconut Popcorn Snowballs

Yield: 8 balls (4 inches)


2          cups shredded or flaked sweetened coconut

nonstick cooking spray

3          quarts popped popcorn

4          tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine

3          cups miniature marshmallows

1          teaspoon coconut or vanilla extract

8          candy canes or candy cane sticks (about 3-4 inches)


Place large sheet wax or parchment paper over work surface. Spread coconut on paper.


Spray large mixing bowl lightly with nonstick cooking spray and place popcorn inside.


In medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in marshmallows until melted and mixture is smooth. Pour over popcorn and mix well until coated.


Spray hands with cooking spray and press mixture firmly to form into balls. Place balls on coconut; roll and press coconut to coat. While holding popcorn balls, gently press candy cane into each ball.


Serve immediately or wrap individually in plastic wrap for storage.


Jingle Balls

Yield: 12 cups

Nonstick cooking spray

12        cups popped popcorn

6          tablespoons butter or margarine

3          cups mini marshmallows

1/2       teaspoon peppermint extract

assorted colored sugars


Spray large mixing bowl lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Add popcorn.


Spread plastic wrap on cookie sheet; set aside.


In medium saucepan, melt butter and marshmallows; stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in peppermint extract. Pour over popcorn, mixing until well coated. Let cool 2 minutes.


Spray hands with nonstick cooking spray and form popcorn mixture into 3-inch balls. Gently press colored sugar onto balls. Let sit on prepared cookie sheet until cool and set.


Chocolate Popcorn Reindeer

Servings: 8

8          cups unsalted, unbuttered, popped popcorn

2 1/2    cups mini marshmallows

1/2       cup chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips

2          tablespoons butter or light olive oil

1/4       teaspoon salt

16        pretzel sticks

16        eyeball candies

8          red candy-coated

chocolate candies


Place popcorn in large mixing bowl.


In saucepan over medium heat, heat marshmallows, chocolate, butter and salt, stirring often, until smooth. Toss marshmallow mixture with popcorn until well combined.


Scoop 3/4 cup popcorn mixture into ball. Repeat with remaining mixture to make eight balls. Place each ball in paper muffin cup liner.


Insert one pretzel stick on each side of ball to resemble antlers, attach two eyeball candies for “eyes” and one red chocolate candy for “nose.” Repeat with remaining balls. Let cool completely.


Holiday Popcorn Snowmen

Yield: 5 snowmen


1          package (1 pound) large marshmallows

1/4       cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, plus additional for greasing hands

1          teaspoon vanilla

10        cups popped popcorn

sprinkles (optional)

licorice (optional)

gum drops (optional)

cinnamon candies (optional)


In large saucepan, melt marshmallows and 1/4 cup butter. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let stand 5 minutes.


Pour marshmallow mixture over popcorn and stir. Butter hands well and form into balls.


Decorate with sprinkles, licorice, gum drops and cinnamon candies, if desired.

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