Introduction: Easy Tabletop Accessories

About: I'm a senior in college majoring in Journalism with a minor in Graphic Design. I love art of all kinds and enjoy browsing--and making--projects here on Instructables.

If you're having a dinner party or just want to give your dining room table some nice accents, these easy projects are for you. This Instructable includes instructions for how to make woven cardboard place mats, napkin rings, place cards, and a bread basket. Cardboard table decor is easy to match with any theme: sprinkle a few seashells as decoration for a beachy feel, scatter some autumn leaves for a rustic theme, or use other recycled materials for an environmentally-conscious urban feel.

Cardboard is very strong and flexible, so its versatility makes for a perfect medium for these objects. Fell free to stray from my instructions to adjust for your own design. However, I have one precaution: take care not to get the cardboard wet. You can do this if you plan to throw them away after one use. All these items, especially the place mats, are in danger of being damaged by liquid, so you may want to coat them with food-friendly varnish or waterproofing spray.

I hope you enjoy these easy projects to quickly turn your dining room into a sophisticated, recycled theme!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

-You will need a lot of cardboard. You can use your own boxes or go cardboard hunting. Grocery stores like Sam's Club or Walmart often have large pieces of plain cardboard on their pallets to separate layers of packaged merchandise, and this is a good source of free cardboard.


-X-acto knife

-2-ft or longer ruler

-cutting mat or large cutting board if no mat is available

-Rolling pin or wooden spoon

-stapler with staples


-hot glue gun

Step 2: Make the Bread Basket

This is the hardest object to make in this instructable, and even this isn't very hard. A basketmaking beginner can easily make this.

Cut long strips of cardboard using the craft knife, ruler, and cutting mat. I cut seven pieces, 1 inch wide and 17 inches long. I will want the sides of the basket to be about 3 inches high, so that means that the basket will be 11 inches long.

Then cut 7 strips one inch wide and 13 inches long. (Image 1)

Us the rolling pin to flatten all the strips so they are thinner, more compact, and pliable. A wooden spoon works as well, but be careful not to score the cardboard with the edge.

Take the long strips and lay them side by side on your workplace. Take up a short piece and run it under the first long piece. Push it over the next one, and under the next. (Image 2) Keep going until you have woven your first short piece into the long strips. It should begin three inches from the ends of the long pieces.Take your second short piece. This time, begin weaving by starting the short piece OVER the first long piece. (Image 3) Repeat with all of your short pieces. (Image 4)

Flip the woven piece upside down so that the ugly side is facing up. (Image 5)

You should have about two and a half inches of both ends of all of your strips sticking out from the woven section. Fold all of these loose ends up so that they stick straight up. (Image 6)

Now you will want to cut more strips. The length isn't vital, but it's better to have them as long as possible.

Take a strip and set it down between the strips of the vertical strips. You will want to weave it so that the pattern of over/under/over/under/over/under continues from the bottom and up the side. (Image 7) Staple the end down. (Image 8)

Continue weaving the strip around the bottom of the sides of the basket. Bend the strip when you reach the corners. If your strips isn't long enough to make it all the way around the basket, cut the strip so it is halfway behind one of the upright strips. (Image 9) Butt the next strip up against it so the ends are hidden behind the upright strip. (Image 10) Use one staple to secure both ends. (Images 11 and 12) Use the same technique when you end the lowest row of the sides of the basket.

Repeat the process to make your second row. That's as high as I went for the basket, but if you plan accordingly and cut different lengths of strips you could make as large or small of a basket as you like.

Use scissors to trip any upright strips poking above the second row of the sides. Staple each row at the very top. (Image 13)

Now take your paper. Carefully rip a rough but relatively straight strip, ripped on one side and straight on the other. (Image 14) Spread glue along the top edge of your basket. (Image 15) CAUTION: BE VERY CAREFUL WITH HOT GLUE! YOU CAN EASILY BE BURNED IF YOU TOUCH IT!!!! Carefully place the paper on the glue with the ripped edge on the outside. (Image 16) Repeat to go all around the rim of the basket.

And the basket is done! Check out the last image.

Step 3: Make the Placemat

Once again, you'll want some more strips. Cut ten pieces 1 inch by 15 inches. Then cut nine pieces 1 inch by 10 inches.

You will begin almost exactly like the basket, except this has no sides. Staple the first short strip right away when you weave it (Image 2)

Weave the rest of the placemat using the rest of the short strips. Staple the ends so that it all holds together. You should end up with a flat, rectangular, woven mat stapled at the edges. (Image 3)

Rip some more paper edging. This time, don't wrap the edging around the edge. Line up the flat side of the paper with the side of the mat. (Image 4)

And the placemat is done! Look at Image 5 to be sure you did it all right.

Step 4: Make the Napkin Ring

This is the easiest project (and probably my favorite) in this set.

Cut a piece of cardboard 1 and 1/2 inches wide and 6 inches long. (Image 1)

Roll it with the rolling pin. Staple the ends together with four staples. (Image 2)

Use two strips of ripped paper to edge both sides. (Image 3) Coat the staples on the inside with glue so that the ends don't rip your napkin in the future. (Image 4)

Step 5: Make the Place Card

Your guests need to know where to sit, don't they? Make this quick place card.

Cut a small piece of cardboard 4 inches by 3 and 1/2 inches. Make sure the "grain" of the cardboard is running the long way. Cut through most of the cardboard across the grain at the halfway line. Do not cut all the way through it. Bend the cardboard down so that it nicely folds where the partial cut is at. (Image 1)

Cut a piece of paper the same size as the front of the place card. (Image 2) Rip it so that the rip is curved. Glue the paper down on the front of the place card. (Image 3) Write the desired name on the paper.

And now the set is done! You can make as many as you like, and apply the same techniques to other table accessories! I could think of a table runner, coasters, or pot holders you could easily make with your new cardboard skills! I hope you had fun reading this instructable, and I hope you are inspired to go make some reclaimed objects of your own.

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