How-To & Diy

5 Ideas for Place Cards That You Already Have on Hand

September  8, 2015

Fashion and entertaining expert Lela Rose, whose new book Prêt-a-Party comes out later this month, shares ideas for clever place cards made from materials you probably already have on hand.

place cards

I love to throw dinner parties and host them quite frequently. For me, the pleasure is largely in the planning, and coming up with new ideas for decorating and details is half of the fun. I love to think about what I already have at home to see what can be repurposed to become part of my table decor—which saves time and money and can be a creative exercise. 

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Name cards are a great place to add a little detail or personal touch as they endemically require a DIY element as it is. Here are some tips and ideas to rethink traditional place cards, which will serve as conversation starters as well as add new details on your table:

1. Use baker's twine to spell out your guests' first initial at each place setting. Match to your napkins for a subtle effect. 

bakers twin lela rose


2. Wine corks, split down one side, can act as place card holders. Lean them up against a glass to steady.

wine corks to prop up place cards


3. Snip letters from gold foil for lettering place cards that add a hit of glitter to your get-together. 

gold leaf lettering  gold leaf


4. For a small, special gathering, embroider guests' names into napkins using contrasting thread. They'll double as gifts.

embroidered napkins


5. Scrabble tiles or Boggle dice can be used to spell names for a game night—or just as a playful touch to a casual dinner party. 

scrabble lela rose 

What are your favorite ways to help your guests find their seats? Let us know in the comments!

First photo by Nanette Wong; baker's twine on napkin photo by Alonzo Maciel; embroidered napkins and gold foil namecards photos by Quentin Bacon; and wine cork holder photo by Jasper Schutt.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

lela rose

Written by: lela rose


702551 September 8, 2015
For the wine corks, just slice off the bottom. That way, you can set them down without relying on a glass to keep them upright.

This is actually the best strategy if you have a large number of guests who don't know each other. Use table tents, etc. rather than place cards that have limited visibility.

This is particularly useful if you have dinner guests who do not know everyone else. At the start of the meal, instruct the guests to turn their cork "place cards" outward so other guests can see their names.
702551 September 8, 2015
Also for wine corks, it might be better to face the winery name down (or let that be the part that is shaved off for stability) rather than make it an advertisement, especially if you are *not* serving that particular that wine at that event.

If you are not serving "Hobel" to "Bill", don't make it so obvious.