We’re now in the throws of fall and I am jealous of my Nebraska friends! Sure, we may eat our Thanksgiving dinner on the back patio here in Arizona – but there’s something about a Nebraska Thanksgiving, even with the cooler temperatures. When I lived there, I spent my Thanksgivings with dear friends in Ord and cherish those memories!

Today, I’ve got a simple and inexpensive DIY project for your Thanksgiving table.

These burlap placemats personalized with your guest’s initials will surely make your table setting a hit this year! Plus, they are a three-in-one deal…

  1. Placemats (obviously!)
  2. Creative alternative to place cards.
  3. Party favor! Each guest can take theirs with them when they go (hopefully, there’s not a lot of cranberry-sauce-spillage!).

Sold? Okay! Let’s get started. Here are the items you’ll need:

  1. Burlap – I got mine at a local fabric store for $2.99/yard. 1 yard will yield 4 placemats.
  2. Fabric paint in the color of your choice (I went with a simple chocolate brown). You can pick this up at Hobby Lobby, Walmart or any fabric/craft store
  3. Small sponge brush – got mine for $0.57 at Home Depot
  4. Stencils – I had some lying around from another project, but you can also pick these up (for cheap!) at any craft store.
  5. Intel on your guest’s initials. If they’re family, you’re probably good – but if some friends are joining you, you might have to do some investigating!

The first thing you’ll need to do is cut the burlap into placemats.

I simply folded the burlap in half, and then made a cut every 16 inches with my circle cutter. I then went back and cut along the fold.

Before you start painting, make sure you fray the edges. Do that by pulling out a few strands until you get the desired amount of fray along all four sides.

Remember, burlap is porous, so keep that in mind when you get set up to start painting.

I recommend a setup like this. The box allows for the extra paint to bleed through and not ruin anything – while pins hold the letters in place.

Quick note: I prefer putting the letters in one of the placemat’s four corners. As you see, I put them in the bottom, right corner. This way, they’ll show up even when covered with plates, utensils and napkins. However, you should paint them wherever you like them – in the middle, top-center, bottom-center, etc… The possibilities are endless! Adjust this tutorial accordingly.

Start with the last initial along the edge and work from right to left. That will ensure you have enough room for all three letters.

I like a solid, not faded look. So, I was generous with the amount of paint I loaded up on my sponge brush. Use less paint if you’re going for a subtle look.

Then, sponge away! Be careful to press into the burlap in an up and down motion. Do not use brush strokes as if you are painting a wall. That will pull out the “hair” on the burlap and cause quite a mess.

Repeat for each letter and put them as close together as you want them.

Allow 24 hours for your placemats to thoroughly dry. I found a ladder to be a suitable spot for that process.

Use them with pride as you decorate your table. Your guests will have fun finding their spot by spotting their initials. Your friends will be impressed that you took the time to find their special three letters!

When the meal is done, simply tuck them into the bags of leftovers you send home with each guest. They’ll have something more than a turkey hangover to remember the day!

Michelle Fortin

Michelle Fortin and her husband, Jason blog about their DIY home improvement adventures on their site, Making Our Dream. That’s where you’ll also hear more about her life as a part-time SAHM to Kenton (born 5/2011) and baby #2 – due to arrive in October 2012. In addition to being a wife and mom, Michelle also teaches broadcast journalism at Arizona State University, is actively involved in her local MOPS group, dabbles in photography, and is a self-confessed social media addict. Currently, she lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she and Jason bought their first home in 2009. It was a foreclosure that’s needed quite a bit of work! If Michelle looks familiar, that may be because you remember her as Michelle Frey – when she anchored the weekend newscasts on NTV a few years ago. She also taught a few classes at UNK. The years she spent in central Nebraska produced some of the best memories and dearest friends a girl could ask for – which is why she’s thrilled to be a part of the Her View From Home team.