Don’t Forget the Menu Cards


A menu card used for a seafood dinner. The card and the napkin augmented the theme.

I love menu cards. Not only do they tell guests what is to come, they allow those picky eaters to finish their salad because they don’t care for blackened salmon.

When I have a dinner party at home, I enjoy providing a menu card. If I am the cook, it works out fine. However, from time-to-time, I have run into a caterer who is tough to nail down on the exact menu.

A menu card from my wedding. Small bites were served while guests arrived, but are not listed on the menu card.

A slight tweak of a recipe or order of service, means reprinting the card. One catered dinner party required two reprints, and the order listed was still not the order the courses were served in. But, everyone enjoyed the evening, so I did not stress!

For a birthday party for my sister, I really worked the menu card into theme by using adjectives on the food items listed. The adjectives also described my sister! That is the kind of silly humor that we enjoy.

A birthday dinner menu card. Adjectives used to describe the food, also describe the birthday girl.


Another aspect of menu cards is that they make great souvenirs of a special occasion for your guests to take with them. They also work well as a reminder of a fun evening for the host, added to a scrapbook, or part of a dinner party journal (yes, I keep a log of all my parties).

A menu card for Spring Tea at the Arboretum.

For my menu cards, I use card stock and print two side-by-side on a landscape setting. The end result is 8 ½ x 5 ½, which I think is a perfect size. Of course, the paper, font, and any graphic I select go with the theme of the party.

A menu card displayed on a place card holder, which goes along with the theme.

Sometimes I provide a card per person at each place setting, but other times, I place a few in the middle of the table for guests to share. Either way is correct. It may depend on the space available on the table and if you are pre-setting an appetizer or salad. Menu cards may be placed flat on a charger, placed flat around the centerpiece, displayed standing up in a menu card holder or place card holder. Do what looks good in your tablescape and is easy for the guests to read.

Afternoon tea at the Adolphus was accompanied by a menu card.

So for your next afternoon tea, dinner party or luncheon you may want to add a menu card to the mix. Your guests will appreciate the extra effort.


Bonus:  You may have noticed on one of the menus, the use of the term Amuse Bouche.  Amuse Bouche is French for “entertain the mouth.”  It is a term used for a small bit of food meant to amuse the mouth.  A few years ago, I started seeing an Amuse Bouche served soon after patrons were seated in a restaurant.

The term Intermezzo was also used on the same menu for the palete cleanser, in this case a homemade lemon sorbet.   We normally think of the use of intermezzo when referring to an opera or play.

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