Canaan Marshall’s Holiday Style

The Atlanta-based floral talent whips up some Christmas cheer for the front door and beyond, including a lush “you can do it” arrangement for the dining room table

Atlanta floral designer Canaan Marshall, wearing a stylish crochet sweater, tailored dark pants a thin light strip along the outer seam, and loafers. The mantel is elaborately decorated with greenery and gold ribbon for the holidays.

The Inspiration

“I looked to a classic Christmas palette for all the designs. I’m rather an old soul at heart, and tradition always speaks to me, especially during the holidays. For the how-to arrangement, I wanted to create something with a wow factor but low enough to use on a dining room table so as not to compete with the lively conversations that take place during holiday gatherings. It’s also easy to create—trust me.” — Canaan Marshall

Christmas Centerpiece How-To

To see Canaan Marshall’s styling tips for the floral arrangement below, from beginning to end, click the arrows, or swipe if on a mobile device

Canann Marshall's finished Christmas flower arrangement

For materials and instructions, click arrows on the photo above, or swipe if on a mobile device.

materials for Christmas flower arrangement

Materials: hydrangeas, tulips, red roses, wax flowers, ranunculus, viburnum, dendrobium orchids, red and green cockscomb, tallow berries, seeded eucalyptus, pennycress


Canaan Marshall creates a take grid on a short, round vase with straight sides
1 | Since this is for a dinner party, I chose a low clear-glass container. Create a grid over the top using clear tape. I put a capful of bleach in the water when using clear containers to keep the water clean. I like to work with a lazy Susan for speed, and it makes it easy to check all sides of the arrangement.
Canaan Marshall demonstrates removing leaves with clippers
2 | Make sure to pull off the lower leaves of the hydrangeas to keep them out of the water. Place several trimmed stems throughout the grid.
Closeup of placing tulips among hydrangea flower base
3 | Time to tuck the tulips in among the hydrangeas, starting at the four corners in clusters. I add a capful of vodka to the water. It may make us fall down, but it makes tulips stand up! And it keeps them from opening as fast.
red roses placed among white hydrangeas and tulips
4 | I always blow into the center of roses to get them to open more before adding them to an arrangement. Trim and place, making sure to cluster them, and then check for any gaps.
Canaan Marshall demonstrates step 5
5 | Trim and add the dainty and airy wax flowers. They add height, dimension, and texture. Place them on the top and sides of the arrangement.
Canaan Marshall places ranunculus
6 | Cheerful ranunculus are next. I also blow on the center of these if they seem too closed. They provide movement and texture and help to fill in open spaces.
Holiday arrangement in progress, after viburnum has been added
7 | Add a few blooms of viburnum. Their chartreuse green really pops out in the arrangement. Pick carefully—choose stems that are not too droopy, and check to remove any dead-looking foliage.
Closeup of Canaan Marshall's hands trimming orchids
8 | When adding fresh orchids to an arrangement, I usually trim off the unopened buds at the top before placing in the arrangement, so the focus is on the blooms.
Holiday arrangement with red cockscomb
9 | Cockscombs are so textural and interesting. I use both red and green ones together for more impact, and they are so festive!
Canaan Marshall smiles big as puts the finishing touches on the red, white, and green holiday floral arrangement
10 | Time for the finishing touches. These are the little extras to add in at the last minute if you want to. You can stop at any time during the process if you are happy with your arrangement. I chose tallow berries (I love anything I can clip from the yard), seeded eucalyptus, and pennycress for additional texture and movement.

Front Door, Foyer & Mantel Decor

A grand set of natural wood doors on a brick on, with a wreath on each door, bundles of greenery on lantern, an arch of greenery over the doorway. To the side of the door, Canaan Marshall also adorned a grapevine sculpture with greenery. Large red bows finish each decorative element.

Classic Christmas front door

Materials: magnolia foliage, green cedar, blue cedar, green holly, wired red ribbon

A grand Christmas floral display files a circular table. In the background, a staircase with black iron railing curves around the wall of the rotunda.

Rotunda holiday table display

Materials: grapevine reindeer, wired ribbon, glass vases in various shapes and sizes, red roses, viburnum, dendrobium orchids, manzanita branches, pennycress, ornamental millet, seeded eucalyptus, assorted foliage

lush garland and two large vases of greenery, with ribbon accents, decorate a holiday mantel

Holiday mantel

Materials: magnolia foliage, cedar, green holly, elaeagnus branches, wax flowers, seeded eucalyptus, two glass vases, wired gold-and-white ribbon

Produced by Alice Welsh Doyle  | Photography by Laurey W. Glenn for Flower‘s Nov/Dec 2019 issue