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11 Last Minute, Simple Place Card Ideas to Elevate Thanksgiving (and Improve Conversation Flow!)

Back in the day, hostesses would spend hours upon hours orchestrating the perfect holiday gatherings and a crucial point to this was the seating chart and place cards.

While this rigid formality is long gone (amen!), the notion of place cards can seriously improve the flow and fun of your holiday meal! Why? Because you can balance out the personalities, mix folks up so that those with lots to catch up on and haven’t seen each other in ages will be near and those that see each other every day can be a bit farther. It’s especially important for gatherings where people don’t know each other and/or when not everyone gets along *ahem* swimmingly.

I’ve gathered together a collection that can be accomplished in no time with items easy to get thanks to your local grocery store, Amazon’s quick delivery or your nearby major retailers.

Pheasant Feathers and Natural Leaf with Tag in Dark Brown Ink. 

Simple go outside and find some pretty leaves and tie 1 with 2 Pheasant Feathers and voila! Easy seasonal perfection!  Note: I used the feathers in a few different place settings below as they’re a fun touch and can also be displayed in a tumbler or small vase for an extra fall touch.

Sweet Treats

Always popular and so easy to do! These particularly special treats are chocolate dipped figs with ganache inside and are from Fran’s Chocolates (my favorite chocolate shop of all time!). They ship but you’d need to call them ASAP and ask for express shipping I’m sure. Check here to see if you can get Fran’s locally. I used cream light weight craft paper, cut tiny strips and used a fine tip marker to handwrite people’s names.  Then I cut a V notch out of the right side and used a touch of glue to attach the strip to a toothpick.  Simple curl the strip around the toothpick a couple times and you’ll have a fancy looking name flag. 

Fran’s adorable figural turkeys are another great option! They are beautifully detailed and come with the pretty rust colored ribbon so all you’d need to do is slip a little tag on one end to create a lovely place card (note: not online so call to have shipped). Or just use them as favors they way I did! If there’s no time to reach out to Frans, your local chocolate shop might have something similar. Easy Variation Suggestion: get fresh fruit with stems like red pears or satsuma oranges and use the tiny paper strip flags described above to wrap around the stem.

Quick Lettering Tips: to fake it, pick your prettiest fonts ( many contemporary scripts are free to download or inexpensive), use Word and print out on to card stock. Or go to Pinterest and search for hand lettering styles you like then freehand copy them. I used AuraBlue Characters as a model for many of mine this year.  

Details: I used white cardstock cut to size unless otherwise noted although you can get pre-cut place cards too. Pens make a big difference. Below you’ll see I used black and dark brown fine tip calligraphy, gold sharpie medium point, fine tip black, medium tip chalk pens. All are available on Amazon or at a local craft store.

Fresh Rosemary and Sage Bouquets.

Tie 2 stems of rosemary with 1 stem of sage, make little tags and tie them on. So easy, yet so pretty!

Rustic Half Circle Tree Stumps with White Cardstock Nametags in Gold Ink.

These half circle style wood holders are super cute and a bit different from the traditional stumps.

Gold Seasonal Holders with Lettering in Simple Black Fine Tip Calligraphy Pen on White Cardstock.

Gold leaves shown are a discontinued set from Pottery Barn – I got them off eBay. Target has this pretty leaf option and Pottery Barn currently has darling mini gold turkey holders that are on sale 50% off ( only left in store at this point so call ahead to check stock).  

Cute Mini Tree Stumps.

These offer all the rustic, seasonal fun without the work of the DIY effort of those you’ll see on Pinterest! They’re shown below with a brown grocery bag nametag and chalk pen.

The Same Mini Tree Stump shown below with a white cardstock and brown ink place card shows a different way to go with these versatile holders.

Small Framed Sepia Photos

People love these! I used online Costco photos to edit my pics in sepia but many stores offer quick printing these days.  Or just use your home printer for immediate results. The frames shown are from Target by Hearth & Hand but got discontinued however, this pretty Hearth & Hand option is available. Or head to your nearest craft, Target, Walmart or frame shop for a set of inexpensive frames.

Silk Season Floral Picks with Homemade ‘Tag’ in White Cardstock.

These offer a big impact, low investment of time and money. Cut out little rectangles, clip two corners and hole punch and you’ve got your tag.

Small Figural Bird with Tiny White Cardstock Name Tag in Fine Black Tip Marker.

This bird was from last year and is available in limited quantities on Amazon, yet many décor stores like Target, Joanne’s and Michaels likely have other options.

Photo by Laura Taylor Photography

The Next Two Options are not super quick to make as shown however they’re two of my favorites and I think well worth the effort.

Time Saving Tip: eliminate the velvet trim in the first example then it’d be a snap or skip making the matching menu in the second example to cut time. I think they took around an hour for each style to make a set of 6-8 place cards as shown.

Fall Themed Ornaments with Velvet Ribbon Trim and Velum DIY ‘Tag’ Lettered in Dark Brown Ink.  

These acorn ornaments are from Hobby Lobby (glitter trim is available only in stores) but online there are these without glitter. Word of warning: Hobby Lobby’s shipping is slow though so be prepared to pay for express shipping or jump in the car to track them down.  Any fall themed ornament will do though so check your nearest big box store for another option.

DIY Velum Name Tags: I used a mini hold punch to the velvet ribbon (found at Pacific Fabrics in Seattle and small rectangle tag made of velum, then used embroidery floss as string. Cut a 10″ string, fold in half then poke loop from name side down then insert ends through loop for finished store tag look.

Feather Trimmed Fold Over Place Cards and Matching Menu.

Order feathers from Amazon or get from a local craft store. Head to your computer, choose a script and print you like and print on white card stock. The tiniest dab of hot glue holds the feather on the place card.

Menu DIY: Cut an 18-24″ length basic kitchen string, fold in half and in the center tie a knot of 3 feathers with a spring of dried or real flowers. Wrap the string ends around the menu and knot on the back side. I bought the $15 Bordeaux font because it’s the No Qualms Mom signature font but there are many out there for free if you like the idea of it. Here is my formatted menu to download as a word doc (or create your own in a few minutes), print on card stock then cut evenly with a paper cutter or by hand.  

All Photos by Marla Smith Photography except where noted.

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