Key Takeaways:

  • Check what is in season and what will get to you in time
  • Know what is available to you locally
  • Personalize your place card holders and save money in the process

DIY place card holders are an awesome way to save money, add style, and help the environment. We have some suggestions that are either recycled or biodegradable materials. Even if saving the planet isn’t your prerogative (we hope it is), take a moment to contemplate why you would buy overpriced cheap plastic that you get with traditional place card holders.

Let’s look at some sweet alternatives:

1. Spring - Unlit Candle

Rule number one, cover/hide your wick so that no one is tempted to light your candles with the place cards in them. People can be more silly than you’d think, especially with a few refreshments in them. A customized pack of matches is a great accent if you’re working with some extra money after your place card savings. You can DIY it...of course we’re fans of that! If you’d like to learn more about what that entails check out The Spruce Crafts guide.


A word of caution though; you may be surprised to find that making your candles is actually quite expensive, time consuming, and labor intensive. So, unless you’re an avid DIYer it’s probably best to outsource this to someone who can make it easier, better, and less costly than you.

2. Summer - Wine Cork

Another event classic: the wine cork. Let’s look at the obvious bright have to get those corks from somewhere right? With enough patience and thirst you can happily sip your way to a proud collection of corks. If you’re in a rush just grab a block of cheese and call some friends. If you’re gathering the corks for a wedding, your bridal party will greatly appreciate a casual Saturday sip-a-thon. Obviously the earlier you start collecting the corks the easier it will be to accumulate them.


Once you have your corks it's time to get to work. Grab a sharp knife and a cutting board. Be careful when cutting your cork. We want all 10 fingers at your event! You need to cut deep enough to keep your place card upright and not flopping around, but go too deep and you have two halves and zero holders. We suggest making your incision roughly 30% down the cork. Apply a slow, steady, yet firm pressure.

If you’re expecting wind or going with a larger place card look to physics for help. A wider base will provide more stability. Slice your corks in half the long way. Lay them flat side down and create the ridge for your card. To stay with the aerodynamics for one second longer...look for a longer more rectangular place card which will also do better fighting the breeze. Line the ridge with clear super glue or other adhesive to ensure it stays in place.

3. Fall - Pumpkin

Perfect for the Fall engagement, small pumpkins are inexpensive. If you grow them they’re free. Pumpkins with a large flat base are best. They won't tip or roll so your place cards will be held securely. Also, they’re easier to cut. Leave their natural coloration for an array of beautiful oranges and auburn tones. Remember that pumpkins don’t have unlimited shelf life. Despite lasting a long time, pumpkins can eventually rot. Make sure to keep them healthy and don’t grab them too early!

To add even more of a personal touch, grab some paint at your local crafts store. If you’re unsure of a local supplier, check out our favorite craft retailer Michaels. You can paint a message, like “thanks!,” a funny face, a flag or color associated with nationality, or our favorite...just go abstract! Get some awesome colors that match your theme. No theme? No problem. Go rainbow! The options are unlimited with pumpkin painting. It will bring you back to your younger days and young helpers will be lining up to help!


4. Winter - Ornament

The winter ornament place card holder is an excellent seasonal choice. Ornaments give you tons of opportunity for customization. For starters, are you experienced at blowing glass? If you are, you've probably already thought of this. If you’re not, now’s not the time to pick up this skillful hobby. You can however buy clear or white ornaments for pennies. Look for bulk deals. Once you have them, a standard painting kit is all you need. You can paint them with your co-host, family, and friends. In the clip holster you can simply tuck a small paperclip down the hole, which will hold your place card.


BONUS - We can’t help ourselves. Great for the Winter event. Pine cones are another cost free solution. Doing a school event? Have students spend their recess hunting down pine cones and putting them into a paper bag. You’d be surprised how well paint takes to a pine cone. Adding white is a great way to “frost” your pine cones. To add depth try painting the inside of the pine cone one color and the outside another. This isn’t recommended for kids that are too young/unsteady with their hands. Spray paints will work especially well with pine cones. Just make sure to cover the area behind the cones so you don’t get paint all over your floor, deck, or lawn.


Place card holders are available in bountiful quantities. Do not let your venue, planner, or laziness cost you. Go with us for your place cards and trust yourself on the holders. You can save well over $100, which is better used on other venue items. Add in the value of using eco-friendly materials and turning them into keepsakes and you have found the holy grail of DIY event prep.