Seating arrangements are a challenge of logic, physics, creativity and sociability. Seating arrangements in tiny apartments: doubly so.
Nick and I are hosting Christmas dinner (well, lunch. We can’t wait all day for food and family togetherness) and our space is limited. There are also things to consider, like making sure there’s someone next to my niece, Maggie, to make sure that most of her food stays makes it from her plate to her mouth and not the floor. And that you don’t want to make the same people sit at the kids table every time. And that I always sit next to my aunt, Tracy, at family dinners.
Enter the place card.
Not wanting to go the traditional paper route while hosting my first Christmas dinner as a Mrs., (I did host once for my parents and grandmothers at my first apartment years ago. It was a basement apartment. No seriously. Basement.) I opted to go fancy and crafty and make salt dough ornaments that will double as place cards and party favors.
The recipe I have said to just combine 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of warm water, and two cups of flour, using a stand mixer. That worked out alright, but I think if I do these again I’ll first dissolve the salt in the water, then mix in the flour and see what that does. The way I did it, as they baked you could see little flecks of salt leaving tiny dents in the dough. Not a bad thing, but the dough could look smoother.
I also had to add more flour to make the dough less sticky. The 1:1:2 ratio left it too tacky to roll and cut. But if you try these, start with that ratio and add more flour as needed. It might turn out fine the first time around for you.
I kneaded the dough a good bit and then rolled it out to about 1/4 inch thick. I used Christmas cookie cutters to cut out shapes but I didn’t remove them from the dough/counter just yet.
Before transferring the dough ornaments to a cookie sheet, I used silver ink, letter stamps and decorative swirl stamps to embellish the name tags. This took some practice, especially with the letters because I couldn’t see exactly where they were falling.
I carefully picked up each name tag and used a straw to poke a hole at the top so I could string a ribbon through it later.
Once each name was done I popped them into the oven at 200 degrees for a few hours. I turned the oven off before I went to bed (some people bake these overnight. I just don’t feel comfortable leaving the oven on overnight) . . . and completely forgot about them for a day.
When I did remember to check on them, the tops were nicely baked and solid, but the underside was still a little soft, so I flipped them and baked them again for a few hours, then just let them dry out over the next day or so.
The backs of a few kind of puffed up, but that won’t matter once these are hanging on trees someday (because I know our guests will cherish these).
I cut thin ribbon to 12″, tied a knot in each piece and looped them through the hole of each ornament. I’ll put them on our Christmas plates, which we still have to dig out of storage.
I think they turned out rather well! I may touch up the ink on some, but overall I like the subtle silver on white.
Bonus: for our wedding, Nick’s brother designed a monogram that we used on our save the dates, invitations, programs, errthing. I also had it made into a stamp, which I used on a heart-shaped dough ornament to make a decoration for our first Christmas tree.