Last year for Christmas, I made everyone I knew caramel corn, peppermint bark, and homemade nuts and bolts. The caramel corn recipe that I used called for bags of microwave popcorn, which I thought was ridiculous. Not only is microwave popcorn expensive, but imagine all the extra chemicals and calories that are totally unnecessary! After a quick google, I discovered that it was easy to microwave your own popcorn, but I needed at least 10 quarts of popcorn, so I wasn't about to do it one lunch-bag at a time. After a bit of trial and error, I discovered that using a large, glass or ceramic mixing bowl, and a microwave plate cover (which I got from the dollar store) worked perfectly! It works best with a bowl large enough for the microwave cover to fit completely inside, so its resting on the bottom of the bowl (at least to start). I initially tried a plate over the top of the bowl, but I found that the popcorn popped better when it was more closely enclosed. Plus, the plate was too heavy to be pushed up by the popcorn.
Anyway, at the family gift exchange last year, I got a home popcorn kit. It had a bottle of popping corn, some seasonings, and a microwave popper! Its basically a melanine bowl with a loose-fitting plastic lid (sound familiar?). I decided to try it out this year, and what I found is that it doesn't pop popcorn any better than my initial set up. So, I suggest if you want to make microwave popcorn for yourself, without the added chemicals, etc. Just buy a $1 microwave cover and use the heavy, microwave-safe mixing bowls you already have!