Thanksgiving is typically one of those times when large groups of people gather around the dining room table to enjoy a meal. My grandmother always encouraged us kids to come up with fun table decor, be it the handprint turkeys we made at school, or special napkin rings made out of brown paper bags. She was one of those inspirational, outside-the-box type of thinkers that always made the holidays fun. So in honor of my dear Grammy, I give you some of our favorite table place card ideas.
This is typically the easiest way to seat people at a table. Cut pieces of cardstock into 4 x 4 squares (you can make these whatever size you like, but I find the 4 x 4 size is a good size) and fold in half. Write the person’s name on both sides of the card and embellish. You can use fun holiday stamps or stickers.
I love using leaves as decor! However, you have to use them when they still have a bit of life left in them (that is, when they still have some color), otherwise, you’ll end up with a pile of dried leaves. If your natural leaves are past their prime, you may want to cut them out of construction paper instead, or use silk ones from a craft store. Write the name of your guest on the leaf in permanent marker and either glue to a tent card as described above, attach to the paper bag napkin ring described below, or simply position the leaf in the place where their plate will go.
Tiny Pumpkin Place Marker
Though technically I think they may be gourds, I’m wild about those little tiny pumpkins you see at the market. They make great table cards as well; simply write the guest's name on the pumpkin with permanent marker. More traditionally-shaped gourds work well too.
My sister is the queen of gourd turkeys! Using glue dots, she attaches feathers (either cut from construction paper or real craft feathers), googly eyes, a construction paper wattle, and some sort of juice or bottle cap base (which she typically hot glues) which keeps the turkey from falling over. Write the name on the turkey’s chest with a permanent marker.
Bea Bea contemplates her new best friend… or is it new worst enemy?
Pine Cone Turkey
Again, this is one of those places where my sister excels. She makes the cutest turkeys by adding feathers, eyes, and a beak to a tiny pine cone. Names are add with a tent card.
Paper Bag Napkin Ring
My sister Freda thinks that supermarket shopping bags are the perfect brown for fall party planning. They are also a fantastic crafting material. To make a napkin ring, simply cut a section of the bag that is 3 inches wide by 8 inches long. Fold the paper longwise up 1 inch, and then over 1 inch again to make a 1 inch wide stip. Bring the ends together and slide one end of the strip into the other end of the strip about 1 ½ inches to make a ring. Secure with tape. You can then embellish by adding a leaf as described above, or any other fun item (such as a cut out handprint turkey).
Herb Napkin Rings
This was something I came up with for a Secret Garden party, but I thought it worked for Thanksgiving too. Did you know that each herb has a meaning? Not many people do, but it’s a fun little fact that makes for a great napkin ring. Gather sprigs of herbs that you will be using for cooking your meal. Using the brown paper bag napkin ring, write name of the herb and then what it stands for. For my turkey dinner, I'll probably use:
- Sage - for wisdom and immortality
- Rosemary - for remembrance
- Thyme - for courage and strength
Wrap the ring around the napkin, and slip a sprig of the herb underneath the band. You can find a listing of all the meanings in The Old Farmer's Almanac.
Just remember, in the end, it’s not how you set the table or present the food, but the joy you bring to your celebration. Get the kids involved in making the table festive, so that everyone feels part of the event. No matter what you serve or how you display it, I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with food, friends, family, and fun!