February 5th, 2012

Practical Place Card Etiquette

by Jacqueline Whitmore

If you plan to throw a dinner party this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget the place cards. Place cards serve a variety of purposes.

A host should never say to guests, “Just sit anywhere.” This puts the guests in an awkward position to choose their own seat. Place cards are used to avoid confusion and to help diners identify one another. Your guests will be more comfortable if they know where to sit the moment they approach the table.

Place cards are used to separate close friends and couples. A well-thought out seating plan keeps the table conversation upbeat and stimulating and ensures that new friendships are created.

You can order place cards from a variety of stationers including MarthaStewart.com or Crane.com or you can make your own by cutting out rectangles from good card stock, approximately 3 ¼ by 2 inches.

Write (preferably in ink) your guests’ first names on the place cards. If you have more than one guest with the same first name, include their first and last names on their cards. For an informal party of people who don’t know each other, it’s nice to put first and last names on the cards, so that people can learn their dinner companions’ names.

At a large, more formal dinner, it is correct to write last names only on the cards, such as Dr. Helmsley, Ms. Dunnahoe, and Mr. Jellen.

You can put place cards just above the dinner plate, above the dessert spoon and fork, on top or tucked into a fold on the napkin, or in a decorative place card holder.

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One Response to “Practical Place Card Etiquette”

  1. Catherine on February 15th, 2012 3:49 am

    If your guests do not know each other, once evryone is seated – have them turn the place cards toward others. It’s like having a lovely nametag for each guest!

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