Making Your Own Place Cards

Making your own place cards is easy to do and adds a simple elegance to any table setting. In years past, personalized place cards were always used when a family was having company over. Place cards help prevent seating confusion and make guests feel welcome. But don't limit yourself to using place cards only when you have company over. Fun cards can make family feel special on important occasions and holidays.

You have endless possibilities when it comes to making place cards, from the basic folded card to something ultra-elaborate. And place cards are not just limited to an actual paper card; anything you can think of on a small scale can also become a place card. You are limited only by your time, talents and imagination.

The Basic Place Card
The basic place card and the foundation for more elaborate place markings is the folded card. You can use cardstock, construction paper, scrapbook paper or index cards. You simply fold your card in half to usually about the size of a four-inch by six-inch index card. The finished result will look like a tent when you place it on the table. On the front of this card you write your guest's name. Be sure to double-check the name spelling. Having the name spelled incorrectly will surely lead to an awkward situation.

Once you've made a basic place card, you can decorate it with markers, glitter pens, stickers or drawings. The Scrapbooking section at most craft stores offers a wonderful variety of small 3-D objects to make your place cards stand out. They have stickers and scrapbook items for almost any theme you can imagine. You can hand print your guest's name, or you can print them off on your computer. A fun option is to print the names on interesting paper, use decorative scissors to cut around the name and then glue the shape onto the middle of the place card.

Pop-Up Place Cards
Pop-up cards are another way to use the folded place cards. Simply fold your card in half as usual so you have the crease. Then open the card flat, and draw an object, such as a tree. The top of your tree should be on what would be considered the back of the card. Cut around that part of the tree, and, when you set your folded card in place, the tree will stand up.

Beyond the Basics
Don't limit yourself to using folded place cards to mark your guest's place at the table. Get creative. If your dinner party is at the beach or has a seaside theme, glue tiny seashells onto a small circle of cardstock or cardboard. Then place the guest's name on a small piece of driftwood or paper that has a seaside theme onto the shells.

Napkin rings make great place cards. You can actually write the guest's name on flat-surfaced napkin rings. These can be used again, or you can allow your guests to take them home. You can also hot-glue decorative items, such as a four-leaf clover, onto the napkin ring beside the guest's initials.

More Place Card Ideas
Miniature pumpkins, small gourds, tiny birdhouses, toy sailboats and paper flags all make wonderful party place cards. Cake-decorating stores, or the cake-decorating section of your local grocery store, will have a variety of fun objects for cakes that lend themselves perfectly to making place cards.

Holiday Place Cards
Dinner place cards are a fun to make during the holidays because you can use so many fun holiday items. Here are a few ideas:

Valentine's Day. Candy hearts glued on a place card, individual candy hearts or heart-shaped pop-up cards.

Easter. Plastic eggs nestled in Easter grass inside and held in an egg carton "cup." To get the cup, simply cut an empty egg carton into individual egg holders. Then write the name on the egg, and decorate with rickrack or foam stickers.

Mother's Day. Mini straw hats decorated with ribbon and flowers. For keepsakes, add a magnet to the back of each hat.

Father's Day. Miniature ties from fabric or felt, small sport objects, such as football key chains or cardstock TV screens with Dad's name in the center.

Thanksgiving. Tiny pumpkins or colorful fall leaves cut from construction paper and laminated.

Christmas. Miniature trees from the train section of your local toy store, tiny grapevine wreaths (write the name on cardstock, and glue the paper to the back so that it shows through the opening of the wreath), Christmas balls and tree ornaments.

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