Magnolia Leaves as Place-Cards

This season when entertaining dinner guests, why not add a whimsical garden touch to your holiday table setting? Recently, I was asked to create a festive table setting to be featured in a holiday HOME publication. I began to ponder on a creative table setting that would represent the spirit of the holidays without the traditional Christmas touches. Being a “lifestyle guru”, I felt compelled to disregard the cache of decorations up in the attic and create a fresh new holiday dining table within everyone’s reach. After a few minutes, I realized I needed to look no farther than the side garden. There was a rather large available resource in need of a winter haircut… Magnolia. I wondered if the lush, glossy, green sheen and distinctive shape would look as fabulous on my dining table as here in this natural setting. Could this large green leaf be the answer to my “avoid the holiday clich̩” decorating dilemma? Yes, definitely yes! The leaves of the “MARnolia”, as I have come to call them, are the perfect size for a place card.

This easy project brings Mother Nature to your dining table without the need for an extra place setting.

What you will need for this project:

  • Magnolia leaves: one for each place setting. Leaves are available at most garden centers now through spring.
  • A package of raffia: I prefer the natural color but you can use any color you prefer. There is more than enough for this project, but it’s always better to have a little extra.
  • Cloth napkins: I prefer 100% linen; one for each dinner guest.
  • A gold or silver extra fine point Pilot permanent marker: Available at any art supply store.

The first thing you must do is protect your table or workspace as metallic markers can get messy if pressed too hard. Place your leaves in a row on the table. Carefully write each name on a magnolia leaf. Let dry for about a minute.

While the leaves are drying, prepare your napkins. The fold I like to use is one that I created and call the “bowtie fold”. For the best results, iron your napkin flat. Fold in half, and iron again; fold in half again creating a square. Fold in half once again creating a flat 3×6 napkin. Once all the napkins are folded and ironed, you are ready to tie them.

Place a napkin lengthwise in front of you and put a piece of raffia about 10 or so inches long under it in the center, perpendicular to the napkin. Pinch in the center of the napkin by tying a bow, allowing the extra raffia to fall out to the sides of the napkin. Cut any excess. Now, slide the stem of a personalized magnolia leaf under the raffia in the center of the bow, in one of the folds created by the raffia bow.

This project can be done well in advance as Magnolia leaves will last a week before drying out. Place the napkin with leaf right on the plate or charger for the best impact.

“Marnolia” can be used to accent a mantle or coffee table as well as your dining room table. So bring a bit of Mother Nature in your home. She never stays for dinner!

And there you have it.