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« Sandwich for Dinner | Main | A Quick Halloween Supper »

Thanksgiving Prep: Making Place Cards

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving yet? I’m starting to look through recipes to decide what to make. I’m also thinking about how to decorate my Thanksgiving table.

I’ve started gathering Indian corn, gourds and small pumpkins from the farmers’ market for a centerpiece. As much as possible, I like to use fall produce that can be eaten later, rather than just serve as table decorations, so as time gets closer, I will add pomegranates and persimmons to my shopping list, and just before Thanksgiving, I’ll pick up some grapes.

I like to determine in advance, who will sit where for the big feast, trying to mix up the guests and keeping in mind which people will be most compatible sitting through a long dinner together. I work out the seating by drawing a rectangle to represent the table and begin marking on my “table,” who will sit where. It usually takes several tries before I come up with the seating arrangement that I think will work best, to keep everyone happy and engaged.

Then I make place cards so guests will know where they belong.

Here are some place card ideas you can try:

  • Bake cookies in the shape of turkeys or pumpkins; pipe the guest’s name in icing and set a cookie at each place setting.
  • Slit the top of small apples with a thin-bladed, sharp knife, and insert a place card cut from card stock in the slit. Put the place cards into the apple just before guests arrive so moisture doesn’t creep from the apple to the card.
  • Gather fall leaves, wipe them clean, and write the name of each guest on a leaf with a fine-tipped black or gold marker.
  • Attach name tags to small pumpkins and set one at each place.

This year, I’m making small boxes that I will fill with bite-size shortbread cookie leaves. A leaf cut from cardstock, with the guest’s name, will be attached to each box, tied with raffia. The cookie boxes will serve as both a place card and a small party favor.

I’m making the boxes and leaves with a Cricut cutting machine, a Christmas gift from two years ago that I’ve just starting using. But you can easily find a leaf design on the Internet that you can hand-cut from cardstock. Handwrite the names and either purchase boxes for the cookies or pack them in cellophane bags; tie with raffia.

For the shortbread recipe, I used one shared by Lori Powell, from our Special Fork archives.

I’ve already made the cookies as an afternoon project with my granddaughter. They’ll sit in my freezer, to thaw the day before Thanksgiving, after which they will be packaged.

Yes, it’s early to be prepping for Thanksgiving, but with so much to do before the holiday—cleaning, cooking and table setting, it’s good to do what can be done ahead of time. The better to simplify holiday preparations.

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