Our ‘statement’ is one of the things we say or do to express our personality. During the holidays, one of the most fun ways to do that is with handmade place cards.
Handmade place cards can work in different ways. The most common example is for seating arrangements. Each place setting has a place card either on the plate itself, or placed above the plate. This type of place card is primarily used for formal settings, such as charity events, weddings, and large parties.
Not many of us will be brave enough to designate who will sit where at our holiday table. There may be a case where Aunt Mary isn’t speaking to Uncle Dan at the moment (in spite of them being married for 48 years), and you definitely don’t want warring siblings to sit next to each other. So to keep the peace, create your handmade place cards with a different plan in mind.
Ways to Optimize Handmade Place Cards
Handmade place cards don’t have to have a name. Instead, find other creative ways to use them. Some ideas are:
- Theme appropriate quotes
- Conversation Starters
Theme Appropriate Quotes
Although holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving are the ideal time to use them, handmade place cards aren’t just for holidays. Any time you are having friends over for dinner, having place cards adds a bit of fun to your table.
Depending on the theme, find quotes that will serve the moment. Holiday quotes are easy to find on the internet. But others may take a bit more searching.
Think about the food you are serving. Are you cooking up a big pot of Gumbo?
What about Italian food?
No matter the cuisine, you can find a quote for it. You can also consider the reason for having dinner. Many of us just enjoy being with friends, and don’t have a set cuisine. If that is the case, search for quotes on the joys of friendship:
Regardless of the reason for enjoying a meal with friends and loved ones, you can easily find the perfect quote!
This one is very similar to asking a question, but to differentiate, a conversation starter is more ‘personal’ than a general question. Your goal is to start a conversation by asking your guests to tell a story of something they love to do, a place or event in their lives, or their favorite/least favorite food.
Before you create your handmade place cards with conversation starters, keep in mind the personality of your guests. Unless you are a group of like-minded people, try to refrain from any potentially controversial topics, such as religion, politics, current events (such as the ongoing pandemic), and other subjects that may cause volatile reactions. Remember, the whole point of having a dinner with family or friends is to enjoy the company – not start World War III in your dining room!
To keep the conversation going, it helps to tack on ‘and why?’ at the end of the place card. Here are some examples:
- Tell The Story (the most fun/horrible/different vacation they have taken)
- Share your favorite Hobby (and why you love it so much!)
- What was the last book you read, and what were your thoughts on it? (movie you saw, concert you attended, etc.)
- If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be – and why?
Ask a Question
This is a great place to get a fun conversation started. Instead of making it personal, choose questions that are designed to add fun and laughter to the meal. Here are some you can use:
- What was the most outlandish profession you wanted to be when you grew up?
- What Cartoon character do you think you most resemble – and why?
- Name an historical person you would have wanted to meet – and why?
- Where would be the most out-of-the-way place you would want to visit?
- Give us your best imitation of… (a cartoon character, historical person, animal, etc.)
Some questions are more appropriate for different groups of people, so be sure to choose wisely. For example, you may not want to ask a librarian his or her thoughts on eReaders or book bans – but you can ask what their favorite book character is, and why they chose that one.
How to Make your Handmade Place Cards
Love the idea of making handmade place cards? They are easy to make, and one of the most frugal things you can do to add fun to any table setting. Depending on how creative you are, you need a few supplies:
- Cardstock – place cards should be approximately 4-1/2” (width) 6” (height)*
- Markers, colored pencils, #2 pencil (for drawing lines)
- Eraser (for erasing lines once you are finished
If you are like me and can’t draw very well, I love using a graphics program to design my handmade place cards. If you already have PhotoShop, Adobe or other software, use those. If not, Canva is a great place to design just about anything using graphics. Keep in mind, although the free version works well with a wide variety of images, creating items using graphic images can be addicting, and you may want to upgrade to the paid version!
To create your handmade place cards, first choose a list of what you want them to say. Coordinate your hand drawings or graphics to fit the quote, conversation starter or question. If using a graphics program, there may be a bit of finagling to get the sizing right.
*Start with a 4-1/2” x 6” template. Keep in mind that your graphic or artwork will only be on the bottom half of the template, with a total size of 4-1/2” wide x 3” high. The remaining 3” will be folded back to create a standing ‘tent’.
When adding graphics, leave enough ‘white’ space to add the text. If you have a creative bent towards Calligraphy, or a great handwriting style, use it to add that personal touch. If not (again, like me!), choose a font style that blends well (script for a more elegant or serious place cards, a fun font such as Comic Sans for a more playful or less serious feel).
If using graphics software, or a program such as Canva, once your design is completed, all you have to do is download it and print. Keep in mind, Canva does not have a paper size option that allows you to have more than one place card on a single page. Each one will have to be printed out separately.
Other software may have that option. If so, choose the proper page size, and start printing. If you are doing hand drawing and lettering, cut your templates to size before beginning your design.
Creative Ways to Display Place Cards
Now that your handmade place cards are finished, there are a couple of ways you can display them.
If you just want a simple method, you can set your place card in the center of each plate, or you can position it at the top of the place setting. Either way, you want it to be noticeable and easy to reach.
You can also use your place card as a tag on a small gift. If you use this method, you may want to choose a smaller piece of paper – one that allows for a miniature graphic and enough space for the text.
The gift themselves can be a small item. If one of your guests love to cook, wrap up a small bottle of Steak Seasoning. If they love to read, make the gift a bookmark. The gift itself does not have to be elaborate –just a simple item that says you think they are a very special person!
Another option is to use cookie cutters as napkin rings. Using a piece of ribbon that matches the colors of your theme, tie your place card to the cookie cutter. Insert the napkin, and place it on the table.
Make Your ‘Statement’ with Handmade Place Cards
There are so many ways in this world to make your own personal statement – through actions, words and deeds. But when you just want a quiet evening with friends and family, express your personal statement with a touch of fun, whimsy, and enjoyment with handmade place cards.
Who knows? This might be the best evening folks have had in a long time. And it may become a tradition shared and enjoyed for years to come!
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