First, the tools you'll need: some wire (I used steel wire, 19 gauge. It was about $4 for a 50 ft roll from the hardware store and it was way more than I needed for 40 place card holders), some pliers, some wire cutters, and something to roll the wire around. I used a paint brush.
1. After cutting the wire (about 3-4 inches) Use your hands to get the wrap the wire around the paintbrush a little bit to get it started.
2. Use the pliers to wrap it tightly around. Wrap it around at least twice.
3. Use the pliers to push that last little end around tightly, adjust as necessary and pinch the wrapped wire closer together.
4. After taking it off, hold the pliers in the center and pull the long part down to finish it off.
After that your wire should look like this:
Once you get the hang of it you can make one in 2-4 minutes. Now you can take your bent wire and stick it into something that goes with your theme! For us, that was pom poms:
Note the bottom yellow pom pom: if what you're sticking the wire into is round or can't stand up on it's own, you'll have to make it a “foot.” There's no real trick or art to this part, and probably no one will see it, so just bend the wire into a triangle or square until your place card holder is standing.
Whatever little paper cards you make for your place cards slide right into those little circles you made.