31 Ways To Decorate With Magnolia This Christmas

Magnolia Wreath on Mirror with Bow
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Magnolia leaves are quintessentially Southern, no matter the season. But when the holidays roll around, these glossy green stalwarts lend an air of sophistication and traditional comfort that is hard to match. Designers agree—they love to use them indoors and out in a variety of creative and beautiful ways. Whether it's with leaves, branches, garlands, or decorative florals, nothing creates a gracious Southern welcome like a magnolia arrangement.

If you're looking for more magnolia decorating ideas, you're in luck. Capture the spirit and nostalgic beauty of the season with holiday styling ideas from some of the South's top designers.

01 of 31

Frame Your Front Door

Frame the Front Door with Magnolia
Laurey W. Glenn

Arkansas designer Keith Taylor started out by attaching 20 feet of faux garland to the doorframe and then hand-wiring magnolia branches to completely hide it. "It takes about three times more magnolia than you'd think," he says. Next, he frosted pinecones with white paint and attached them with wire to the garland in groups of three.

02 of 31

Gather Leaves Close to Home

Magnolia Garland
Courtesy of Lindley Arthur

Rather than purchasing magnolia leaves, Dallas-based designer Lindley Arthur of Lindley Arthur Interiors uses branches found near her home to design a simple magnolia and evergreen garland for her mantle. "Our neighborhood is blessed with several old magnolia trees," she says. "Every Christmas, I gather their leaves and wire them into my fresh greenery, which I drape over our mantle and dining room buffet."

03 of 31

Wrap the Christmas Tree

Magnolia on the Christmas Tree
Laurey W. Glenn

A garland of large, glossy, green magnolia leaves is the perfect complement to the needleleaf foliage of a fir, spruce, or pine. Designer Keith Taylor's secret? "This is the 'do not tell' part of the story," he confesses. "All I did to connect the leaves was use duct tape on the back."

04 of 31

Drape Banisters in Garland

Banister Magnolia Garland
Laurey Glenn

Ashley Gilbreath of Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design loves to incorporate Magnolia leaves, calling them a true Southern staple. "Using it around the holidays, or anytime for that matter, gives you all the warm and fuzzy feelings of home," she says. "Our favorite way to use magnolia leaves is in a show-stopping garland. Having the leaves in your garland lets you see both the beautiful brown and rich green tones, which make these leaves so unique and versatile!"

05 of 31

Go With Understated

A. Hays Town Study with Magnolia Garland
Photo: Brittany Ambridge; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Read the room before you go with your holiday decor, sometimes neutral and natural is all you need. Here, a simple magnolia garland blends in beautifully in this large, dramatic room. A few white stockings dot the mantle.

06 of 31

Mirror a Wreath

Mirror a Wreath
Laurey W. Glenn

A magnolia wreath seems to float atop this dining room mirror. Designer Keith Taylor started with a 30-inch pre-made pine wreath and then twisted sprigs of cut magnolia into it. The wreath hangs on clear fishing line from a tack placed just above the mirror that's painted the same color as the wall.

07 of 31

Mirror a Wreath, Part Deux

Magnolia Wreath on Mirror with Bow
Laurey W. Glenn

Once you've "wreathed" one mirror, you might as well go ahead and wreath them all! This one is built on a 16-inch wreath and attached to the mirror using a suction cup with a hook. The white bow and cream-colored roses echo the palette of the room. Combining them with lots of glossy magnolia doubles the impact.

08 of 31

Bowl Them Over

Magnolia in Bowls on Buffet
Laurey W. Glenn

Place florist foam into an assortment of bowls on a buffet or sideboard, and stick individual magnolia leaves into it. Add height to the arrangement with a trio of small conifers—a dwarf Alberta spruce and two arborvitaes—that you can plant in the garden after a week indoors.

09 of 31

See the Beauty in Simplicity

Magnolia Holiday Arrangement
Laura Resen for The Welcoming House

Art Director and Designer, Heather Smith, of Charlotte's Circa Interiors believes the magnolia's beauty is best displayed through the creation of simple, organic arrangements. "Magnolia is a Southern staple whose glossy leaves and striking fragrance add an elegant charm to any setting," she says. "Few trees can match its iconic year-round beauty. Nothing can beat a tangle of sculptural limbs or floating a single blossom in water."

10 of 31

Enjoy Magnolia All Season

Magnolia Garland
Sarah Rossi of Sélavie Photo

In early November, Sean Anderson of Sean Anderson Design works with a local florist to create lush magnolia garlands for his home. "They can be used as a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape, and they'll last well until Christmas," he says. In December, Anderson drapes garlands along banisters, tables, and around doorframes. He suspends garlands vertically behind artwork, too, for a polished holiday look. "The art hung on top of the garland provides a nice focal point in front of the black shutters," he says. "Layers like these are what elevate a space from simply decorated to truly designed."

11 of 31

Dress It Up For the Holidays

Coffee Table Magnolia Arrangement
Kerry Kirk Photo

Houston's Katie Davis of Katie Davis Design loves decorating with magnolia leaves during the holiday season — or any season, for that matter. "We love adding fresh greenery to a space to bring in warmth, texture, and something alive," she says. "Magnolia, a true symbol of the South, elicits a sense of place in our projects. We certainly use their branches and leaves in styling for the holidays, but would argue that they are appropriate year-round." Davis appreciates the plants sturdy, 'hard-wearing' nature as well, which makes them easy to arrange. "Also, there's nothing better than a magnolia wreath, simple and structured," she says. "During the holidays, just add a red bow."

12 of 31

Mix Magnolia With Citrus

Citrus and Pinecone Front Door Christmas Decor
Laurey W. Glenn; Floral Design: Mary Cox Brown; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Magnolias and clementines make a vibrant, festive mix for wreaths and planters. For the wreaths, magnolia leaves, clementines, and other stems fill in a wire wreath frame base of greenery. Complimenting the wreaths are planters filled with magnolia leaves and clementines.

13 of 31

Showcase Magnolia's Shades

James Farmer Kitchen for Christmas
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Floral Designer Shane Friesenhahn of The Botanical Mix agrees, the use of magnolia sprigs makes for an elegant centerpiece arrangement. "I have fond memories of magnolia leaves from my childhood," he says. "They would always flood our backyard as the trees shed. I love the contrast of the dark green on the top of the leaves and brown shade on the bottom. To me, they symbolize new and old. For holiday design, they are rich and full, perfect for any centerpiece."

14 of 31

Bring Magnolia Wreaths Indoors

Bedroom Magnolia Wreath
Courtesy of Lauren Liess

Magnolia wreaths are lovely on the front door, but don't be afraid to bring them inside, too. "I love using magnolia wreaths around my house and think they're beautiful both when they're fresh and green and once they've dried," says designer Lauren Liess of Lauren Liess & Co. "I love hanging one over my bed during the holiday season."

15 of 31

Create Warmth From Room to Room

Kitchen Magnolia Arrangement
Courtesy of Roger Higgins

Roger Higgins of R. Higgins Interiors recommends using magnolia leaves and stems artfully throughout your home. "For an organic, textural touch for the holidays, we like to mix magnolia leaves into garlands and wreaths, arrange limbs in baskets on top of armoires or place branches in glass cylinders," he says. "It immediately makes the room feel warmer and more finished, simply by adding the dramatic warmth of green and mossy brown."

16 of 31

Swag Your Wall Hanging

Magnolia with Ribbon Hanging
Laurey W. Glenn

Customize faux foliage with real greenery to make this hybrid swag come to life. Wire pieces of magnolia and pinecones to a faux garland (attached to the wall with tacks). Dangle pretty paper ornaments from ribbons.

17 of 31

Paint Leaves to Match Your Decor

Painted Magnolia Leaves
Courtesy of Dana Wolter

"Magnolia leaves are a great, Southern way to bring the outdoors in during the holiday season," says Dana Wolter of Dana Wolter Interiors, who often paints magnolia leaves to match her holiday decorations. "Depending on my color palette, I generally spray paint them either white or gold," she says. "They can then be used as a wreath or intertwined with ornaments and other organic materials on the mantle."

18 of 31

Use Garland as a Centerpiece

Magnolia Table Runner
Courtesy of Moore House Interiors

For those looking to add beauty to the dining experience, magnolia garland stands out beautifully when placed along the center of a table and mixed with white florals and other leafy sprigs. Ashley Moore of Moore House Interiors, agrees. "One of our favorite ways is using them in Christmas garland," she says. "Intertwining the leaves with classic garland (real or fake!) adds an interesting and special Southern twist to holiday greenery."

19 of 31

Spruce Up Your Bucket List

Magnolia Leaves in Bucket Outdoors
Laurey W. Glenn

Magnolia leaves, with their reddish-brown undersides and large leaf size, serve as a decorative base to Christmas planters. Designer Keith Taylor planted a pair of 2-gallon dwarf Alberta spruces in a 5-gallon bucket. Then collars made from magnolia leaves were placed one by one to cover the base.

20 of 31

Add Some Sunshine

Fresh Lemon Garland Hanging Over Fireplace Mantel
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas and Buffy Hargett Miller

For merry and bright holiday decor, lemons add a happy twist to these garlands. Magnolia are strung with lemons draping the mirror. The mantle's evergreen garland is garnished with more lemons and magnolia leaves.

21 of 31

Make Gift Tags

Magnolia Gift Tags
Laurey W. Glenn

There's nothing more festive than adding touches of fresh greenery to your Christmas decorations. Forage some leaves and use them for your gift wrapping tags. Use a silver or gold paint pen to write someone's name on a magnolia leaf, and attach it to a present with double-sided tape.

22 of 31

Combine Magnolia With Blue And White

Blue and White Vase with Magnolia
Carol Riell Photography

Magnolia branches in blue and white vessels are always in season. Dallas designer Cheri Etchelecu of Cheri Etchelecu Interior Design does just that as the holidays approach. "I love the way magnolias bring a natural feel to holiday décor," she says. "I use branches in my antique blue and white vases in my entry each Christmas season. They bring height and texture to the space, plus green is my favorite holiday color!"

23 of 31

A Little Goes a Long Way

Magnolia Foliage in Wooden Vase
Antonis Achilleos; Produced By Buffy Hargett Miller

Designer Roger Higgins of R. Higgins Interiors loves using magnolia leaves year-round, but especially during the holiday season. What makes them his go-to? "They are quick to style and provide a huge impact with very little effort," he says. "They don't shed like most leafy plants, and the scale of an arrangement never looks too small or too thin, no matter how many limbs you cut."

24 of 31

Jar Your Memory

Magnolia with White Jars
Laurey W. Glenn

All this arrangement requires is a branch or two of cut magnolia and a pretty jar. Designer Keith Taylor placed a white ginger jar atop this chest of drawers and inserted the branches into a bowl of water at the bottom of the jar. Just make sure the branches aren't so heavy that they pull over the jar.

25 of 31

Make Up Your Mantel With Magnolia

Fireplace Decorated with Garland, Ribbon, and Lemons
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Lilt Floral Design

Atlanta's Amy Morris of Amy Morris Interiors loves their versatility. "Their leaves and flowers can add beauty to homes in so many different ways," she says. "During the holidays, I love to create a garland with branches and drape it over the mantel. Magnolia is also beautiful in a vase or clustered on a table." To accentuate the season, Morris adds ornaments to magnolia greenery for dining table centerpieces and rooms lacking seasonal decor.

26 of 31

Make a Statement Staircase

Staircase Garland with Gold and Lavender Accents
Laurey W. Glenn; Floral Design: Mary Cox Brown; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

A dressed up banister creates instant Christmas drama with this magnolia garland. Faux Fraser fir garlands get adorned with fresh magnolia leaves, gold-sprayed dried hydrangea flowers, and velvet ribbon. Use ribbon in your holiday color scheme to make it your own.

27 of 31

Highlight Natural Beauty

Elk Antler and Garland on Mantel
Photo: Allison Gootee; Styling: Suzonne Stirling

Top your mantle with a rustic, chic garland adorned with nothing but antlers and bookmarked with boxwoods. The lush combination of magnolia, boxwood, cedar, and Fraser fir greenery frames this hearth with understated drama. Christmas decor doesn't necessarily need lots of bling to look festive.

28 of 31

Hang Magnolia High

Magnolia garland
Photography: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Make your mantle look even more dramatic by framing it with red-ribbon trimmed magnolia garland and then hanging the garland high up the wall. Showcasing both green and reddish-brown colors of the magnolia leaves provides extra dimension to the garland. The overall traditional green and red decorations look ultra Christmasy against the snow-white wall.

29 of 31

Put a Red Bow on It

Magnolia Wreath with Plaid Bow
Photo: Robbie Caponetto

Nothing says Southern charm more than greeting guests with a front door hung with a magnolia wreath. This wreath is extra dense. Adding red bow is all you need to signal the Christmas season.

30 of 31

Pretty Up Your Lamppost

Magnolia Lamppost
Laurey W. Glenn

This decoration consists of two magnolia branches—one standing up and the other hanging down to reveal both the green and brown sides of the leaves. Dress up a lamppost or mailbox with magnolia branches and pinecones.

31 of 31

Create a Big Bough

Lush Mantel Swag
Photo: Emily J. Followill

This huge garland matches this scale of the large fireplace it frames. Magnolia, pinecones, holly, pine, and cedar accented with milo, millet, and rose hips make an extra lush and layered garland that smells as festive as it looks. Magnolia mixes seamlessly with other greenery and looks just as beautiful on its own

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles