Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Make Your Own Place Cards/Stationery

Last Saturday my sister and I hosted (courtesy of my father's monetary support) a 60th birthday party for my mother at a wonderful Italian restaurant in Sugar Land, TX. The sit-down dinner was for nearly 30 people and my father insisted that a proper seating chart (along with place cards) was an absolute necessity given the size of the group. Of course, since my father is one to make decisions but promptly delegate any work such decisions necessitate to others, the effort of arranging the guests and getting place cards fell to me (my sister had already done a good deal of work in coordinating the menu). With only two days until the party, I didn't have time to have my favorite graphic designer work up place cards so I hit up my local Target to find suitable fill-in-the-blank style place cards. After spending twenty minutes walking up and down the stationery/craft aisles, I couldn't find anything that would fit the bill, so I decided to make some up myself. Fortunately for me, Target carries a lot of really nice scrap booking and paper items and I found this lovely set of 5x7 decorative paper for less than $5 (for a pack of 48):

Since the paper is too flimsy to stand up when folded on its own, I also bought a package of cardstock in an array of browns to use as the base (and to create a nice contrasting border). Then it was only a matter of assembling some supplies that I had around the house to create some cute and simple place cards that looked pretty professional (if I do say so myself) and didn't take much time at all once I figured out exactly how I wanted them done. Of course, there are an almost infinite number of iterations that this project could take, but I think these cards would also make for lovely and personalized stationery that you could use yourself or make 6 or 12 (or 20) and give away as a gift.

1. cardstock (or other heavy-weight paper) -- depending on the size of the decorative paper you're using (and how large you want your border to be), you'll probably get only 1 or 2 cards per sheet.
2. decorative paper -- I used 5x7 paper that was probably intended as matting paper for photographs (which means it was acid-free), but you could use 4x6 or 3x5 if you want the cards to end up on the smaller size. Buying smaller-sized paper also saves you the extra step of having to cut this paper down to size as well.
3. glue stick (or two) -- for 28 cards I went through a glue stick and a half so be sure you have some extra on hand if you're making a lot of these.
4. ruler or straight edge -- I used a leveler, which has the added benefit of being heavier (and therefore easier to cut against).
5. xact-o knife -- these babies just work so much better than scissors in terms of getting a clean edge. Whatever blade you use, don't forget a cutting board or other protective surface to keep your lovely table looking...well, lovely!
6. computer and/or pen -- I actually used both. I made up the labels on the computer and then used a gel-pen in gold (which came in a large pack of 48 but are also available individually or in small groups) to trace over the labels to add some dimension.

For instructions and the shots of the finished products, please click "read more" below.

To avoid having the extra step of cutting the decorative paper, I just left it as-is (5x7). I then placed the decorative paper on the cardstock and measured a 1 cm border around the decorative paper with the ruler, marking off where cuts would be necessary with my pencil (so I could go back and erase the marks once the paper was cut). Then using the leveler as a straight-edge, I cut along the 1 cm borders with the xact-o knife and then glued the decorative paper into place and folded the sheet in half like so:

Because my handwriting isn't wonderful, I decided to go ahead and type/print everyone's name out on the cardstock (which is conveniently sized at 8.5x11). To make the labels more decorative, I also used an oval shape, but you can try any shape you want. I then printed out the labels onto the cardstock in brown ink to reduce the contrast and traced over the names/ovals in my gold gel pen to add a little "razzle dazzle" (to quote Nigella, the domestic goddess herself). Of course, if you can skip the tracing bit if you print out the labels in a higher contrast color or simply don't want to bother with this step.

The last step is simply cut out the labels -- I used scissors since I find them more adroit at handling curves, but I leave that up to you -- and glue each into place. And ta-da, you've got yourself some place cards (or stationery or whatever else you've come up with):

The $25 I spent at Target would probably make up to 50 cards. At 50 cents a card, you can't beat it for personalized cards. Of course, if you give this project a shot, snap a few pictures and send them to me -- I'd love to see how it turned out.


Patch said...

Love it!!! I am tempted to do it for the next dinner party, even if it's only for a few people!!! Aves = Martha of our generation, anyone?

Averill said...

P - definitely wore out a bit after a dozen or so...I'm thinking a small dinner party would be perfect for this! Some crafting, but not too much crafting. :)

Jody Harrington said...

They were SO Gorgmous!!

Anonymous said...

Hello Everybody!

Firstly I would just like to say that I really like your card designs, they are simple yet effective! I wish I could make my own Birthday card designs! I really hate giving my money to those big greetings card companies, not going to name any names! I have tried to make my own creations in the past, but to be honest it just ended up looking like a mess! I think I went a bit trigger happy with the old glitter glue! Until I have the confidence to try making my cards again, I think I may have come up with the perfect alternative solution! Just wanted to leave a little comment about how cool I think electronic greetings are. There are so many people that don't really agree with sending e-cards, I think maybe they feel that it is a lazy way to send a greeting, and are more in favor of the traditional way of buying a 'real' card, and sticking a stamp on it and popping it in the post.
However, I think this is one of those cases of 'don't knock it till you've tried it', I am a fan of electronic greetings cards. A lot of my computer wiz kid mates introduced me to e-cards, and that is how I began using them. I think when you try something new, you are recommended it by word of mouth, and that is exactly what happened to me.
I have recently been sending my friends a Happy Birthday e-Card greeting when they are at work! They just said it was a really idea and that it brightens up their day. I have tried quite a lot of e-Card sites, and I have now found a really cool Free Happy Birthday Day e-Card site that I really like. This particular site has an awesome application where you can upload a photograph of yourself and incorporate it into your card. This is such a clever idea, and adds that personal touch, and as I already mentioned this particular site is totally free. I think e-Cards are definitely worth a try, they are not for everyone, but I am becoming a fan! Hope you find this useful, have a good rest of your afternoon, warmest wishes, Nicole.

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