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Serious Entertaining: How to Turn Office Supplies Into Dinner Party Accessories

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[Photographs: Helen Jane Hearn]

Place cards and napkin rings have gone the way of, well, place cards and napkin rings. And who can blame us? Place cards seem silly when you can just point guests to their chair.

Since most of us work during the day, inviting guests for dinner is the most effort we think we can muster. I know when I'm done with my workday and have friends coming over for dinner, I just want to focus on the food. That's all the energy I have.

But I have a whole lunch hour on the day before that dinner party—and I have access to office supplies to make the guests at my dinner feel a little more special. Using common office supplies like staples, index cards, legal paper and name badges, you can make that dinner party place setting more personal. Guests appreciate these touches more than they'll ever let on.

Here are five ways to turn office supplies into dinner party accessories.

Name Badge Place Card

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Kitschy and easy.

Supplies

1 4"x6" plain index card
A permanent marker (like Sharpie)
A Self-Adhesive Hello Name Badge

Procedure

1. Fold the index card in half the short way.

2. Use the marker to write your guest's name on the name badge.

3. Attach the name badge.

Pinwheel Napkin Ring

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Supplies

Two 4"x6" plain index cards
A brass brad

Procedure

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1. Fold one corner of the index card down and cut across so you have an equally sided square shape.

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2. Cut diagonally from each corner.

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3. Fold each corner into the middle, pushing the point of the brad through each corner until fastened in the middle.

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4. Fold the other index card into half the long way, then fold each side in.

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5. Push the brass brad point through the folded ends of the napkin ring. Open the brad backs to fasten inside the ring.

Floppy Disk Drink Coaster

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Bonus points if you put a secret file on the disk for the guest to take home with them (in the chance that the guest can access a floppy disk).

Supplies

1 floppy disk
1 glue stick
1 4"x6" index card cut into a circle
1 permanent marker

Procedure

1. Simply trace a circle on a piece of office paper and write your guests' name on the circle

2. Attach the circle to the disk with a glue stick.

Staple Star Place Setting

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Using just a stapler, create a shiny star detail on your index card place card.

Supplies

1 stapler with at least 16 staples in it
2 4"x6" index cards

Procedure
1. Use the stapler to staple the desired pattern on both the napkin ring and the place card.

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2. Cut the napkin ring to the desired length before stapling.

Business Card Place Card Holder

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Supplies

2 business cards
1 scissors
1 4"x6" card
1 permanent marker

Procedure

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1. Cut two business cards as shown in the photo.

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2. Fit both cards together to create an easel to display a place card.

How would you use office supplies to make your dinner party something to talk about?

About the author: Helen Jane Hearn writes about creative entertaining at helenjane.com. Founder of the national cheese club Cheesewhizzes, Helen Jane's bimonthly cheese potlucks have been called "Napa's Best Parties" by Food and Wine magazine (December 2009). During the day, she runs Maplevine, a design consultancy specializing in wineries.

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