Bring the outdoors to dinner with this fragrant and colorful holder.
1. Wedge floral foam in the bottom of each pot.
2. Stuff in the boughs.
3. Write a guest's name on each garden marker and place it in the center of each arrangement.
One cup of chocolate chips should be enough to make four to six place card holders. The chocolate disks can be made up to a week ahead of time. Store them between paper towels in an airtight container.
1. Make a 3-inch circle on a piece of paper. Lay a sheet of waxed paper over the circle.
2. Place 1 cup chocolate chips in a microwave-safe measuring or custard cup. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until soft enough to stir into a smooth paste, stirring after 1 minute. Chocolate pieces won't seem melted until stirred.
3. Transfer chocolate to a small, heavy plastic bag, and snip a lower corner off the bag. Drizzle a design onto the waxed paper, within the circle pattern. Repeat for as many place settings as you need.
4. Once chocolate designs have hardened, transfer them to plates. Place a large strawberry, leaves and stem-side down, on a work surface, and cut a slit halfway through with a sharp knife. Insert place card in slit, and set strawberry in the center of the chocolate design.
When trees begin to lose their leaves, bring a touch of autumn to your table.
1. Gather leaves in the colors you want on a dry day, not too early in the day, so the dew has had a chance to evaporate.
2. Sandwich individual leaves between pieces of paper towel, then between sections of newspaper. Put a weight on top of the newspapers, and in two weeks or so, the leaves will be dry.
3. Although the dried leaves will be brittle, they will retain their shape and most of their color. Write the guest's name on each leaf with a permanent marker.
Christmas: Prop place cards made with star-shape gift tags and adhesive letters in martini glasses. Or write each guest's name on an ornament.
Kwanzaa: Ears of miniature dried corn serve as place cards when you write the guest's name on the husk.
Hanukkah: Tuck chocolate coins in a sparkling gift bag and tie with gold ribbon. Attach a card with each guest's name.
Ladies' lunch: Fashion keepsake place cards from colorful botanical papers, then adorn each with a golden stud jewelry pin or an inexpensive charm.
Family reunion: Place a small photo album, open to a photo of the guest, at each setting.
Child's birthday: Instead of a place card, write the guest's name on a chalkboard that serves as a place mat.