Whether you are having a party or a picnic, a paper plate holder can at to the festivity or at least prevent the plates from blowing away in a strong wind. A holder can be as fancy or as functional as you want.
Start with a wooden base. Three-quarter inch plywood works well. It is heavy enough to stay put yet light enough to transport. It may be cut to any shape that is two inches greater in diameter than the plates it is to hold. Round is standard. You can make the base match a party theme: heart-shaped for Valentine’s Day or rabbit-shaped for Easter.
Mark the shape on the wood and cut it out with a jigsaw. If you do not plan to finish or cover the edges, sand them smooth. Decorate the base any way that you like. It can be painted, stained, decoupaged, or covered with fabric, which is then glued or stapled to the underside of the base. Cut a piece of felt slightly smaller than the base and glue it to the bottom to cover the ends of the fabric and any staples. If you would like to cover the base in glitter, paint it with white glue. Sprinkle on the glitter and allow the glue to dry.
Picture where on the base you would like the plates to rest. They will be contained by three pegs nailed, glued, or screwed into the base. There are several ways to do this. The ugliest functional way is to simply pound in three large nails equidistant around the stack of plates leaving the heads sticking up a couple of inches. If you want something better looking, try screwing in three doorstops, either wood or brass. Another way is to countersink three holes and glue lengths of wooden dowel into them.
With the three holding pegs in place, ornaments can be added with hot glue. Try seashells for a beach party. Use marbles, Christmas ornaments, small toys, or anything else that suits the situation. Hot glue ribbon, decorative cord, or similar yard goods around the edge of the base if you would like.
Add something to lie on top of the stack of plates if it will be used outside. This will keep plates from blowing in the wind. Use a polished rock, a votive glass filled with shells, or a snow globe. The snow globe is particularly nice because guests must stir up the snow as they lift it to get a plate.
If you would like a paper plate holder that holds the plates upright on the edge, use the same decorative techniques. Cut a base as in the first example, but make sure that there is a flat side on the bottom edge as it will be standing up. Cut another piece to match the base, but only half its height, in other words, about half a plate high. Screw the pieces together using four long, thin screws, each with a metal or plastic spacer tube slid over them. These are available in hardware stores, or you can cut a thin piece of small diameter PVC pipe as a spacer.
Drill matching holes in the two pieces of wood, two at the bottom, and one at each side. Slide the screw through the front piece. Slide the spacer over the screw. Add the back piece and apply a nut to the back of the screw. This will give you a paper plate holder that resembles a magazine rack in the way it stands up.
Whether you want a paper plate holder that lets the plates lay flat in a stack or one that stands them upright, all it takes is a couple of tools, a little plywood, and a little imagination. You can build one to suit any occasion or motif. Have fun!Whether you want