14 creative ways to decorate with poinsettias

This popular “Flower of the Holy Night” has a surprisingly spiritual origin. Let it inspire your Christmas decor with poinsettia wreaths, bright red cookie bouquets, and more.

As you start to prepare for this season’s festivities, you may have noticed that stores, hotel lobbies, and churches are filling up with the ever-popular poinsettia plant, presented in various arrangements and forms. Loved for its bright red leaves it’s easy to see why this seasonal plant is so high on the Christmas decor list.

The bright bloom made its way into our homes thanks to Joel Roberts Poinsett (name seem familiar?), a botanist and the first U.S. Minister to Mexico. In 1828, while visiting Taco, Poinsett came upon the plant. He shipped some back to his home in South Carolina, cultivated them, and sent them on to friends and botanical gardens. From there they grew in popularity to finally become the seasonal staple they are today.

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But there’s also a beautiful legend behind this humble poinsettia that makes it even more Christmas-worthy. It is said that a poor Mexican girl, Pepita, was feeling sad on her way to a Christmas Eve service as she had no present to offer baby Jesus. Her cousin Pedro told her: “I’m sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus happy.” Pepita thought of her cousin’s words and picked a bundle of weeds, fashioning them into a small bouquet for the infant child. Although still embarrassed by the size of her gesture, she thought of her cousin’s words and felt better as she knelt down in front of the nativity scene to present her gift. As soon as she did the bouquet turned into bright red flowers; the onlookers believed they’d witnessed a miracle. From then on the red flowers became known as “Flores de Noche Buena’, or “Flowers of the Holy Night.”

It’s a particularly poignant message during the holidays, reminding us that by giving we also receive. The plant has other Christmas religious connotations, too: the shape of its leaves have been thought to resemble that of the Star of Bethlehem, guiding the Three Wise Men to pay homage to baby Jesus. The red of the leaves is also thought to signify the blood of Jesus, the white leaves His purity.

Now that you know the significance of this pretty plant, you may be even more inclined to use them to decorate your home this winter. To help you For Her has scoured Pinterest to find some elegant and more unusual ways of using poinsettias this Christmas, from DIY wreaths to edible treats, the result truly is a little Christmas miracle.

Floral decor

Planning to buy a bunch of potted poinsettias? Use these ideas to display them around the house in beautiful, creative ways.

Table cheer

These mini poinsettia pots are an easy way to dress a table for Christmas. The added tealight sparkle creates a warm inviting ambiance for all to enjoy. The best part? Your guests can take their little pots home as a reminder of a meal shared with loved ones. (A note for winter brides: these little pots make the perfect favor for your guests!)

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Center stage

Grouping together a number of these plants adds real impact to a room. If you have a large silver planter (or even a punch bowl) you can use it as a centerpiece for a table, or a festive bouquet on a side table or dresser. You’ll find that metallic colors complement the red leaves especially well, bringing refined festive cheer to any home.

Berry combo

These red berries and wooden sprigs piled in simple glass vases add a little more height and variety to your poinsettia plant. Placed in a hallway, it’s a perfect way to welcome people into your home this season.

Box smart

Although it may be getting cold outside, don’t forget that by placing poinsettias on your porch, you’re spreading a little warmth to all those who pass—although we’d suggest this outdoor look for those living in warmer climates, as poinsettias will wilt if left outside in snowy temperatures. That said, the rustic wooden crate is not only charming, it’s easy to carry inside your mud room at night when temperatures drop.

A merry mantel

The mantelpiece is the focal point of any house at Christmas. Whether the goal is to help welcome Santa Claus, or to make those warm log fires even more beautiful, it’s worth incorporating a few cheery poinsettias around the hearth. Try placing a row of plants, interspersed with candles (or Christmas lights) and berries for true festive charm.

Buckets of fun

If you haven’t got a large silver antique bowl lying around for your flowers, opt for an old-fashion bucket look instead. Simply line up a small row of them along the length of the table. Don’t have silver buckets? Simply spray dollar store plastic buckets with metallic paint. An added bonus: when your plants need to be re-potted after the holidays are over, you’ll have great little tubs to sort all your kids’ pencils, sharpies and pens!

Winter wonderland

For those who love winter white, try placing a single poinsettia in a collection of nature’s seasonal goodies, a few muted Christmas decorations, and a string of fairy lights to bring a little sparkle to your festivities.

Mood lighting

These elegant candles with their poinsettia arrangement remind us of the spirit of Christmas when placed on a mantel, hearth, or as a table centerpiece for when your family comes together during the festive season.

DIY wonders

These crafty creations can be made easily, and admired for many holiday seasons to come.

Door décor

Welcome guests at your door with this stunning wreath made with your own hands. Put together with simple felt cut-out leaves, this alternative will help reduce your décor budget and will last for years!

Burlap beauty

On-trend burlap is a charming addition to your Christmas decorations. These simple-to-make little poinsettias with their natural hues are a modern option for those who love handicraft.

Silverware wrap

Wrap your silverware in these beautiful poinsettia pockets that are not only practical but make for pretty table decorations. Perfect for weddings and family gatherings, you can even offer them to guests as little gifts—for those talented with a needle and thread you could even impress by stitching on their initials!

Sweet treats

The petals of poinsettias are not edible (for humans, and especially for dogs and cats), so don’t use the real flowers in any of your edibles. But you can use them to inspire these confection versions, which are simply delightful.

Pretty piece of cake

Wrap your Christmas cake with this vibrant poinsettia ribbon. Not only does it look stunning, but it will also enhance the flavor of this seasonal fruity delight. Added bonus: it makes for a perfect gift!

Flour flowers

Who doesn’t love a cupcake? Add a touch of sparkle to your festive table with these sweet little cups. The only problem is … they look too good to eat.

Cookie bouquet

The humble cookie is transformed into a perfect edible centerpiece. This poinsettia platter will really make an impact this Christmas, whether you serve them at your own holiday table, or bring them to the office to share. (That is if your kids don’t eat them first … good luck keeping their hands off!)

Cerith Gardiner
Cerith Gardiner

Cerith Gardiner was born in London and has been living in Paris for 14 years. She spends her time working as an English consultant, acting as taxi driver to her four children, and wondering if she’ll ever be as stylish as the French.