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Lara Neel | The Journal Gazette
Customized place cards, using small hay bales, are easy and fast to make.

Place cards enliven Thanksgiving table

A few months ago, I was wavering on what to make for a Thanksgiving-themed column.

Should I do a table centerpiece? How about a wreath? But I’d already done a wreath, and a centerpiece seemed too similar of a project.

Then, out of nowhere, it hit me: How about place cards for the Thanksgiving Day table?

It’s a pretty cool idea, and I didn’t want to do anything super formal. But I knew I wanted it to be three-dimensional.

I rolled the idea around and hit the craft stores for inspiration. I knew I wanted there to be a hay bale at the center of this project. What I didn’t know was that you could buy actual hay bales that measure about 2 1/2 inches long.

When I found those, I was off and ready to go. Because I don’t do a formal, sit-down Thanksgiving dinner, I made these for a friend.

What you need:

Miniature hay bales (2 per pack)

Fall/harvest themed buttons

Wooden sticks

Alphabet stickers

Scrapbook paper

Fake leaves


A note about some of the items I bought for this: I bought packets of leaves for less than a dollar and decided to set the hay bales on them because the bales themselves can be messy with hay falling off.

I was able to find three different packs of novelty buttons that contained an assortment of fall-themed items, such as corn, pumpkins, gourds, leaves, sunflowers and a pumpkin scarecrow.

There is a small child among the group I made these for, so I went a completely different way and used painted cutouts of a Pilgrim man and woman for the child’s place card.

I used Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue for this project and kept wondering whether I should have used a glue gun. It took me about an hour to complete eight place cards.

When you have all the items assembled, it’s just a matter of deciding what you want to do. As mentioned above, I glued the hay bales to fake leaves to cut down on the hay debris. After I did that, I measured how high I wanted my wooden sticks to be and cut them to size.

I then cut a piece of texturized scrapbook paper to a desirable size and used the alphabet stickers to spell guests’ names. I then glued the paper to the wooden stick.

I used scissors to cut the backs off the buttons and glue them on the fronts of the hay bales. On one, I used an acorn from a co-worker’s yard.

I apologize for not providing you with precise measurements for this project. It was really just an idea I had, and I didn’t do a lot of measuring. I eyeballed a lot of this project, and that’s OK from my perspective.

The bottom line is this: Do what makes you happy. I can give you a list of supplies or ideas, but you have to make it your own.

It has to fit your family’s theme or style. I consulted fairly heavily with a member of the family for whom I made these place cards, and she seemed all right with whatever I chose.

That’s the nice thing about handmade: If it comes from the heart, people typically love it.

Joyce McCartney is not a craft expert. She is, however, interested in crafting of all types. She shares her experiences and those of area crafters. To reach Joyce, call 461-8364 or e-mail Also, go to the blog at Hear podcasts on knitting at Crafty Living: Math4Knitters.