I love the idea of bringing in found, natural elements for Thanksgiving decor; maybe some drift wood, or smooth river rocks. But where I live, all I can find are dead, brown oak leaves, some leftover dried corn stalks at the nursery, and twigs that get knocked down during windstorms. Crunchy foliage doesn't do much for me, but I like some of the branches and twigs that get blown into the corners of my block, and figured there must be something sorta mod that I could make with 'em.
So, I came up with these adorable wooden place card stands that would work for Thanksgiving, or for any time a few folks are gathered. They don't cost anything, and are super fun and easy to make, and will only improve in durability as the wood dries and seasons.
I also whipped up some free, printable place cards to match, in a five different colors, to go with any tablescape.
Tools and Materials:
- Found tree branch (the drier the better), 1" - 1 1/2" in diameter
- Handsaw (pull saw, hack saw, coping saw, miter box)
- Wire or nylon brush
- Vice, clamp, locking pliers, or some means to hold the branch steady while you cut it
- Computer and printer (optional, for printing place cards)
1. Locate the straightest parts of the branch. Little knots and bumps will give the project character, but sharp angles will compromise its balance. Use a wire brush to remove any lichen, moss, or green stuff, and wipe clean.
2. Cut several 5/8" - 3/4" rounds from the branch. Don't obsess with the measuring tape here, just cut what looks like the right size for your branch.
3. I knew my place cards would be made of medium weight cover stock, which I figured to be about 1/64" of an inch. Most small hand saw blades, like a pull saw or coping saw, have a thickness of around 1/32", which make them perfect to cut the slot, or kerf, for the cards. So, if you have a collection of tools, just choose a saw with a thin blade. If you wanted to, you could even use a rotary cutter, like a Dremel, just be sure to keep it steady for a consistent slot.
4. Hold the round in a vice, clamp, or with pliers, and use the saw to cut down, about half of the way through. If you can, angle the blade just slightly, so that the card will sit back just a bit, and not be tempted to fall forward.
5. If your branch was fairly dry when you found it, you can stain, clear coat, or seal with wax. I just left mine au natural, and may finish them somehow next year once they've really dried out. But for now, I love the natural look.
6. Then, if you'd like, download the free printables below, and add the names via an image editing software, or by hand. Print them out, and set that table!
Free, Printable Place Cards: