How to make your own design on paper plates and napkins

Updated June 13, 2017

If you're planning a party and running over budget, find ways to save money and still have decorations that suit the theme and tone of the event. Instead of buying expensive, pre-printed plates and napkins, embellish plain, coloured paper tableware with customised designs that will impress your guests more than the store-bought versions. Use an assortment of craft supplies to adorn the borders of paper napkins and plates with whimsical, elegant or eclectic accents that are not only eye-catching, but also easy to create.

Create personalised paper tableware with a layered look by choosing two paper plates in the same style but different colours. Use a pair of decorative-edge scissors to cut one inch off the edge of the plate that you'd like to sit on top. Stack the two plates and stick them together with a strip of double-sided tape. Use the same scissors to generate an attractive edge across the bottom of coordinating paper napkins.

Use paper punches sold at craft and scrapbooking stores to create shaped cutouts along the border of the plates and napkins. Choose shapes that suit the theme of the party, such as hearts for Valentine's Day, snowflakes for a winter event, or a cake for birthday festivities. Leave the punched tableware "as is" or layer a different coloured plate or napkin underneath so its colour will show through the punched-out shape.

Design elegant paper plates by drawing a single line, creating a simple flourish, or writing basic text around the edge with a gold, silver, or copper leafing pen. Add similar metallic designs to napkins with gel pens since the leafing pen ink will bleed when applied to the thin paper.

Give paper plates a homespun look with a woven ribbon border. Use a hand-held hole punch to create holes one inch apart around the entire plate. Choose ribbon or raffia that coordinates with the room or party decor and weave it in and out of the holes. Use scissors to cut the ribbon from the spool and tie the ends in a knot on top of the plate.

Make quick-and-easy designs by adding rubber-stamped designs along the bottom of the paper napkins or edges of the paper plates. Use solvent ink that won't bleed on the napkins or smear on coated paper plates.


Consider confining the designs on the custom-decorated plates and napkins to their edges. Guests may not enjoy eating off of or wiping their mouths on stamping ink, for example. If you're decorating plain napkins and paper plates for a child's birthday party, let the guests customise their own table settings as a craft activity. Give each child a paper placemat, paper plate, napkin and cup. Provide an assortment of craft supplies like stickers and crayons and show the kids how to make designs along the edges of the tableware.


Avoid embellishing paper plates and napkins with accents like glitter, rhinestones or beads that can "chip off" and land in the guests' food.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper plates
  • Decorative-edge scissors
  • Double-sided tape
  • Napkins
  • Paper punches
  • Leafing pens
  • Gel pens
  • Hand-held hole punch
  • Ribbon or raffia
  • Scissors
  • Rubber stamps
  • Solvent ink
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About the Author

Drea Christopher is a freelance writer with a bachelor's degree in English. She has more than 10 years of experience producing features and SEO articles for national consumer publications, trade magazines and industry leading Web content providers. She has a particular interest in craft, entertaining, education, home and garden and health-related topics.