Place cards are a throw back to a more formal time. While the usage of place cards continues, the acceptable etiquette for the names placed on the cards vary based on the formality of the event.
A place card can be formally printed, engraved, printed out on your own computer or hand written. There are place card holders available or you can use the folded over technique that creates a tent like paper object to be placed at each place setting.
Place cards can be used for a very formal business event, a wedding, other formal gatherings, a ladies brunch and even a little girl’s tea party. While each of these events varies greatly, so does the etiquette necessary for the verbiage on the card.
Here is a simple explanation of the different levels of etiquette for placing names on a place card.
The most formal usage would be to use the person’s title (Professor, Doctor, Mrs., Mr. …) and last name. If there is more than one person with the same last name, the first initial or entire first name can be used.
An acceptable but less formal approach would be to use first and last names without titles.
The most informal use of a place card would be first names only. This would be used in mostly an intimate familiar setting like a family gathering.
A variation to this theme would be to include the event’s information on the place card along with the person’s name. Using just the event information without a person’s name would result in a less personal table card rather than an individualized place card.
Table cards can be used as a way to reserve a table. Table cards can also be a way to designate a specific place. This would be used in a scenario where people would be assigned to a specific table but not necessarily a specific setting. A table card can also be a way to number a table.
Dependant upon your event, a table card’s design can be very simplistic or very elegant. Utilizing a corporate logo or other decorative elements could make a table card a keepsake item. Unfortunately not everyone in attendance would be able to receive one where they would if you were using place cards.
On certain occasions, a table card and place cards could be used together. In this case, they could also be coordinated using similar design elements.
In the end, your event’s need will dictate the kind of place card or table card you use, as well as the level of formality in the place cards or table cards execution.