Whether you’re throwing a wedding, a holiday party or a charity gala, one of your biggest concerns is that everyone has a good time.
And while a lot of factors are under your control if you’re planning the event, one major factor isn’t: the people. Even a small dinner party of 10 people can include some personalities that just don’t mesh well. When you’re hosting an even that has 50, 100, or 500 people, the chances of social conflict go up exponentially. And if you’re in charge of the guest list, you probably already know the most likely problem areas. No on wants to hear Aunt Betsy harangue Aunt Carol about her lifestyle choices in the middle of the wedding toast, and those two CEOs involved in litigation should probably be kept separate when steak knives are at hand. Promises of good behavior can go out the window when emotions or alcohol levels are running high. A judicious exercise of social politics is called for, in the form of a carefully planned seating chart.*
Once you have the seating chart sorted, you have to let your guests know where they are supposed to sit. Enter the place card. You’ve seen them. Flat or folded bits of paper, tented next to wine glasses or laid atop plates. They may even have fancy calligraphy and laser cut outs, or clever holders. There is nothing wrong with these approaches, and in fact a simple paper place card is often the most budget-friendly option, or the easiest option for someone overwhelmed with party details.
But maybe you’re looking for something a little different than the norm. Maybe a more unique approach fits better with the cause you’re raising funds for, or the style of wedding you’re dreaming of. Maybe your event has a theme that calls for a more nature-inspired touch. I’ve rounded up 20 natural alternatives to the traditional place card that might just spark some inspiration. Take a look:
Stone & Rock Place Card Ideas
Add a little geology into the mix.
Sea-Inspired Place Card Ideas
If you can’t go to the ocean, bring the ocean to you.
Woodsy Place Card Ideas
Rustic without resorting to burlap and lace.
Wild Place Card Ideas
With a little help from the animal kingdom.
I’m a bit of a nature girl at heart, so these really speak to me (and I’m kind of mad I didn’t explore this route for my wedding! Hindsight). The great part about a lot of these ideas is that if you have time to comb your local bit of nature and decent handwriting, you can DIY them no problem. Some of these would also double nicely as a party favor with a little tweaking. And who doesn’t like a two-fer?
What do you think? Do you prefer traditional place cards or something new? Any nature-inspired ideas I missed?
*As someone who has wrangled an event with 75 people and certain Problem Combinations, I can tell you with authority that a seating chart is necessary for a smooth evening, as headachy as it might be to set up.
**I also thought of antlers and flower petals/live flowers as place cards (where the writing is actually directly ON those items), but Pinterest didn’t yield any results for those. Be the first and let me know!