I get it. With the holiday party season upon us, you're researching last-minute recipes and chasing down the final guest lists.

Just remember, if you want to go full Martha, you also need to impress with the nonedibles on the table.

Whether you're a first-time host trying to make a good impression or a bad cook looking to contribute to the spread, these two easy place settings will help you add a do-it-yourself touch to your holiday dinners.

Color-dipped pinecones

Color-dipped pinecones


  • Paintbrush
  • Pinecones
  • Acrylic paint and glitter


First, you'll want to gather your supplies and pick a soundtrack for the project. If you have access to nature, go fetch real pinecones outside. In my case, I bought a bag of scented ones at a craft store for $4 and turned on Thao & The Get Down Stay Down.

Because we're using glitter, you'll want to cover your work surface with newspaper or paper towels. Don't be fooled — this won't prevent the glitter from getting everywhere. Glitter always gets everywhere. This is just part of the fun, so embrace it and hide curious pets if necessary.

Once your surface is covered, make a small palette of paints on a disposable plate or piece of cardboard. You want a ketchup-size pile of paint for each pinecone, so decide now if you'd like to stick with one color or use the whole rainbow. (My color choices are inspired by Lisa Frank.) Lastly, either save half of the palette for your glitter pile or pour half an inch of glitter into a disposable cup.

Now that you're ready to paint, start at the top third of the pinecone and paint the individual spikes. It's important to cover the top, bottom and outer edge of each spike to create the appearance that the top of the pinecone was dipped in paint. As you paint, push the paintbrush inside to reach the core of the pinecone between the spikes.

Color Dipped Pinecones - coloring pinecone

Now for the fun part! As soon as you've finished, dip the freshly painted pinecone into your glitter pile and roll the edges of the pinecone. It's important to do this immediately after painting, while the paint is still tacky. After rolling the pinecone, tap the unpainted side on your covered surface a few times to shake off excess glitter. Feel free to repeat this step a few times for extra sparkle.

Color Dipped Pinecones - extra sparkle

Once you're done, arrange the pinecones and admire your trendy place settings. Now you can get back to worrying about making dinner.

Woodburnt initials

Wood-burnt initials


  • Woodburning tool
  • Wooden cube or disc


This is the perfect craft for anyone who's obsessed with the smell of campfires. Of course, I'm assuming that you already own a woodburning tool or are willing to buy one for this craft. I have a multipurpose heat tool with exchangeable heads that can be used for things like soldering, leather stamping or woodburning. Mine was a very insightful gift from my mom, but you can find similar tools in craft stores for $20-$25. You will also need the wooden objects that you'd like to customize. If this is your first time woodburning, I'd recommend using a surface at least 3 inches wide so you can make larger movements. It's very important to use natural, untreated wood so you get the best results and don't inhale any strange fumes when the wood smokes.

I highly recommend tracing your letter or shape with a pencil before you start. I know you perfectionists will do this by default, but even we improvisers should do it. The wood always burns much more quickly than you'd expect, and it's very hard to correct mistakes since you're burning away the wood's surface. Fine, I'll just say it: I freehanded three of my letters and don't really love how they turned out.

Woodburnt Initials - letters

Once you're ready to apply heat, use the tool like a pen and gently push down on the wood's surface. The amount of pressure you apply will determine the depth and color of the line you draw, so consider playing with lines to enhance your design. If you'd like to darken a larger area, try turning the tip horizontally and scraping the surface with consistent pressure. Don't be scared by the burnt smell, but open a window if you have an overactive smoke detector.

Woodburnt Initials - final result

You're done! Now you can use the blocks to arrange your guests, but try not to accidentally spell weird words.

Are you making table decorations or place settings this year? Have you already planned them out, or did I just give you a new thing to stress over?