Kid-made place cards enliven holiday table


By Donna Erickson

Signal Contributing Writer

Thanksgiving Day and the “here before you know it” December holiday season are approaching. The weeks of celebration are all about giving, sharing and experiencing that intangible joy of playful togetherness.

During the busyness of the festivities, it’s good to be intentional about including kids in the process. After all, just like adults, they want to feel useful and part of things. So, this Thanksgiving, get children involved! 

Here are simple ideas to keep kids engaged and creative by making place cards. When it’s time to set the holiday table, they can pitch in with their contributions. 

Painted stones

Wash and dry 3- to 4-inch-wide flat stones. Paint them if you wish, using craft acrylic paints for a base coat, then painting names in a contrasting color. Or, leave stones natural, and write the name of each guest with a white paint pen (available at craft and art supply stores). You might want to draw a design around names for embellishment. 

On the opposite side, write the date and place where you are celebrating. If you have extra stones, encourage guests to grab a paint pen and write inspirational words on them when they arrive. Words might include “gratitude,” “thankful,” “family” or “together.” Set them around the centerpiece of your table. 

Tiny pumpkins

Use a marker to write names on mini pumpkins or gourds. Punch a hole in a small photo of the person, and tie to the stem with twine.

Treat bags

Use a marker to print names near the end of a wide, 26-inch-long ribbon. Use ribbon to cinch small cellophane bags filled with candy, a homemade cookie or memento. Set at each place. Guests can take them home as a party favor. 

Napkin portraits

Purchase inexpensive, solid-colored fabric napkins, or repurpose an old set you own. Let kids draw a portrait of each person in one quadrant of each napkin with fabric paints in squeeze bottles or using fabric markers. Add the guest’s name below the portrait, and place on a plate. Guests will no doubt smile when they find their portrait. 

Wash and save to use annually as a family tradition. In 10 years, Aunt Kate may say she never looked so young!

Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit and link to the Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.” 

© 2020 Donna Erickson

Distributed by King Features Synd.

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