How to Use Place Cards

Spring is the beginning of a whole new season to welcome the people we love to our home and table. Here at FrenchGardenHouse we relish in the joy of entertaining, and I know that you do, too! One of the easiest tricks to use to create a welcoming table for your guests is to use a personalized place card. I’m sharing some tips on How to Use Place Cards to let your guests know that you cherish them.


How to use place cards

How to Use Place Cards

Place cards are the ideal way to welcome each person, they are the ultimate welcoming gesture. When using place cards, they’re usually the first thing your guests see when they sit down at your table. Written with each guests name on one side, they’re functional and beautiful. Not just for large weddings and grand dinners, a small luncheon {even for two!} can be made more welcoming, warm and intimate by giving your guest a personal place at your table. It is the first sign {besides your welcoming hug and smile} that you have created a place at your table for them, they matter a lot to you, and you are looking forward to spending time with them. It’s a precious gift to give to your guests.

Not only are place cards lovely additions to your table settings, they do a lot of under-cover work to make your party go smoothly. A place card takes care of that tricky situation {it’s Mr. FGH’s nightmare at fancier events!} where guests have to try to sit at and ‘fit in’ a certain table already filled with guests at larger events. Guests won’t need to hunt down a table big enough for their family, and there won’t inevitably be one too few seats to fit everyone a group intended to sit with.

I recently went to a talk/luncheon at a botanical garden in Corona del Mar here in California that was made quite awkward because there were no place cards on the table. This was a fairly elegant luncheon with a speaker, and at our table we had to turn several ladies away because there was one seat too little. Even though it appeared we had room, the guest seated next to me had already been served her drink, but stepped outside to answer her phone. It was very uncomfortable, with a mother-daughter actually sitting down and saying “too bad for her then” and the waitstaff having to move them to another table!

how to use place cards

At home, by using place cards, you can place your guests to promote friendly conversations. It will allow placing two of your friends who don’t know each other together because you think they will have lots in common to talk about. You can also seat someone new to the group next to yourself, so that you can lavish extra attention on this new friend, making her or him feel loved and welcome.

How to use Place Cards






Be sure to spell your guest’s name correctly. I know this sounds like a “duh” tip, but I often have friends who want to “bring” someone to a small gathering. Someone they think I will love as much as they do. So if you are having place cards, ask about the correct spelling of that person’s name. {Obviously also applies to dates your girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters etc. want to bring as a guest to your table.}

If you’re having a small, casual gathering where most of your guests know each other, just first names written on your place cards works. If you are having a slightly larger event, it’s a good idea to use first and last names. It helps with confusion, and also, I find that it helps me to remember who goes with whom if I’m a guest somewhere.




There are no hard rules about that! {I really don’t believe we should have hard rules about entertaining at all, you?} Often, I’ll suggest writing your guest’s name on both sides of the card, so that the name is visible on either side. But if your name card is especially beautiful on the printed side, writing the name on the blank side is perfectly acceptable.




Make sure the writing is large and clear, especially if you are hosting a candle lit dinner in the evening. Almost a no brainer, but I’ve been at weddings before where I couldn’t even read my own name on the place card! If you write neatly, printing is just fine too, it will be easy for everyone to read their own name, and the name of the other guests across from them at the table.




Usually the name side faces the guest’s place setting, with the beautiful image side facing all the other guests. That way each guests sees the beauty of the place cards around the table. At a gathering where you have guests that don’t know each other, it’s nice to ask your guests to turn their name side around for the other guests to see. That way not only can your guests call guests by name, it helps them remember the other guest’s names later on, too.




While traditional etiquette used to state that once a couple is married they should no longer be seated with their spouse at social occasions, I find it nicer to seat guests with their spouse. The same is true for dates, they’ll feel more comfortable and have more fun.




Probably not something you might host often, but using place cards for large catered parties is genius! If you have table service instead of a buffet, it’s easy to mark your guest’s place cards for special needs, say a vegetarian or allergic guest’s needs. Your college-age daughter who is a vegetarian, for instance, could have a small carrot drawn on her place card, so the waitstaff knows not to serve her the beef plate.


Blue & White A Perennial Spring Favorite




The kind of place card you choose should fit in with your overall table scape design. Here at FrenchGardenHouse we do on occasion sell tented, simple colored cards. But my personal favorites are the big, over-sized tags with seasonal illustrations. They are the perfect size for gifts, but also to tie onto a napkin or simply lay down on a plate. Especially for outdoor entertaining, tying them onto something at each place setting keeps them from being blown away by the wind. {They are also very charming in a special place card stand at each setting.}


One of our clients ties the name card / tags on a bottle of wine at each place setting for her wine tasting club dinners. It never ceases to garner her many compliments!

how to use place cards

How to use Place Cards

I hope that you will consider using a place card for your next entertaining opportunity! Even if your beautiful table is packed with flowers, candles, stunning plates and napkins and silver, a thoughtful little tag or card with a hand written name for each guests makes everyone feel loved and special.

French Country breakfast with bird nest name card


When I entertain here at FrenchGardenHouse, more often than not it’s a small gathering of friends. I love to write the friend’s name on the front of the tag, then write a special scripture or quote on the back!

scripture name card

Thank you for joining me today as we all learned the ins and outs of How to Use Place Cards. I hope you are inspired to use name cards when you entertain to bring elegance, style and fun to your table! I know your guests will be delighted.



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13 thoughts on “How to Use Place Cards”

  1. Gillian

    I have not used Place cards for years but am delighted to read of the revival hopefully here in Melbourne Australia too.

  2. Alice Genzlinger

    I would be so embarrass to learn I had sat at a seat that someone had already taken. Has society really become so rude! I’ve never used place cards but your instructions have changed my mind. And they are beautiful too!

  3. I have never really given place cards much thought, but this is just so lovely. Truly enhances the whole experience. Great ideas! Thanks, Lidy!

  4. YES! I – and my guests – love place cards! Yours are beautiful, and you gave me a great idea for a wine party and place cards with your tag on the wine bottle! Thanks for all the inspiration.

  5. Denise Carlson

    I love places cards, it skips right over the awkwardness of where to sit. It’s always fun to be creative with them and add to the theme of the table scape. Lovely ideas leading into the Easter holiday.

    1. Denise, you are so right. And thank you so much for reading and leaving kindest comments! Happy weekend!

  6. I really enjoyed this one, Lidy. Your photos, of course, are (as usual) dazzling and there were some fun ideas. I usually paint my own and it’s a nice take-away!

    1. I bet your hand painted place cards are truly spectacular! What a treat for your guests!!!

  7. Jean Van Buskirk

    Bonjour, Lidy,
    Loved all the pretty place card’s I to use to use them all the time just so special at the table, but thing’s change with time but I would still use if I entertained, nice color’s on the table’s, alway’s so nice to see your pretties.
    Happy Easter~~~~~Alway’s Jean V.B.~~~~~~

  8. Carmen Olivas

    How do I go about ordering some of the lovely place cards?

    1. Carmen, the ones I showed in this post are available on our online shop site. {In the gifts collection}

    2. Carmen, they are on the website. Thank you for your order!!

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