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Patching a popcorn ceiling

My house was built in the early 90s, and I bought it in the early 2000s. It's a split level, and has popcorn ceilings throughout.

A few months ago a guy dropped a tree on my house. The roof has finally been repaired, but now it's time to work on patching the holes in the ceiling of the kitchen.

The largest hole is about 18" x 36":

The others are much smaller, less than 12" x 12":

I seriously considered stripping the popcorn ceiling and painting it white, but once you start there's not a graceful ending point! It's way too much for me to do myself, and paying someone becomes too expensive to be feasible. The insurance is only paying $350 :-/

I can patch the drywall myself, no problem. I'm guessing that I need to sand it nice and smooth before applying popcorn?

And I'm also assuming that I need to prime the drywall before the popcorn?

The real question is, HOW to apply popcorn and make it match the rest of the ceiling? I've done small patches by just spreading a little on and poking it with a cheap broom to texture, but is that the right technique when I'm covering a 2' x 3' patch?

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