Mike Garten, Good Housekeeping
The art of napkin folding may seem intimating at first glance, but it’s a surprisingly simple way to elevate your dining room decor. Whether you’re hosting the entire family for Christmas dinner, cooking a Valentine’s Day meal at home with your partner or looking for a fun way to enliven your weekly Sunday supper, we’ve rounded up easy napkin folding ideas that will add a DIY touch to your table.
Get creative by straying away from formal place settings. Instead, use creative napkin folds to hold silverware or turn a traditional table napkin into a playful creation (keep scrolling for bunnies, turkeys and fish). As you browse these easy-to-follow ideas, you’ll find fall foliage and floral bouquets that make the perfect Thanksgiving place setting, as well as Christmas trees, candy canes bows and elegant star shapes for the ultimate holiday table setup. If you’re brainstorming for spring or summer, we’ve got you covered there as well.
While most of these ideas require a square cloth napkin, we’ve sprinkled in a few paper napkin folding ideas — which is a more affordable option if you’re working with a lot of place settings. Once you’ve settled on an idea, you’ll be impressed by how quickly you get the hang of a folding technique. The best part: a few of these tutorials can be completed in less than one minute.
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Eight-Pointed Star Napkin
Bring elegance to any occasion with this unique star shape. Start by folding a standard 20″ cloth napkin in half, then press it with an iron to create a crease. Continue folding and pressing until you’ve created a trapezoid shape. Hint: use paper clips to help keep the sides together.
Whether you go with a green, red or blue napkin, you can recreate this funny elf hat napkin in less than one minute. Start by folding your napkin in half, then roll it. Fold up the bottom to form the brim of the hat, and you’re finished!
Impress your guests by recreating this Japanese wrapping technique. Rotate a cloth napkin diagonally, and place a small rectangular gift in the center. Fold the top and bottom corners snuggly around the gift. Gather the excess fabric and tie two knots. Dress up the present with a sprig of greenery, candy cane or personalized card.
Here’s a playful idea for your Easter day table. Start by laying the napkin upside down, with one point toward you. After a series of folds and flips, adjust the ears to your liking.
For your next holiday meal, make the zig-zag shape of a pine tree with clever pleats. Start with a folded square, and bring up corners to create layers. Then with a little flipping and tucking, you’ll get your evergreen.
You may not typically host a dinner party for Valentine’s Day, but these adorable fortune napkins might inspire you. Once you’re finished folding, print sweet messages onto small slips of paper to act as good fortunes.
Fun, functional and fast to make, your picnic isn’t complete without it. Red and green disposable napkins are the way to go. Once you layer the colors on top of each other, fold the two serviettes into a triangle shape. Don’t forget to draw on little seeds with a black marker.
Turn an average paper napkin (we suggest a shade of red or orange) into beautiful fall foliage. Start by folding your napkin in half, then accordion fold the entire thing. Connect the two longest points while pinching the connected center together, and you’ll soon reveal the leaf shape.
We would never forget about Halloween! These spooky bat napkins are really easy to fold. Just be sure to press over your final creation with an iron to keep it secure.
Give your table just a touch of romance with a lovely rose that’s sure to wow. For this look, take a red washable serviette and fashion it into a long, thin roll. Next, hold the left corner down to make a right angle. Then, start twisting the cloth into a rose. Finally, flip it over and tuck the loose ends into place.
Get twice the glam with a bright “double star” at every setting. To create this look, you’ll need square napkins in the color of your choice. After a couple of quick folds, firmly pull down the sections between the folds until they each form a V-shape. You’ll repeat this step on the other side. Once you achieve your desired shape, allow the napkin to unfold into this beauty.
The crown design is a classic that should be done at least once during the holidays. A classic red napkin will work wonders. Once you’re done folding the cloth, curl the left and right sides so they meet in the middle and tuck one into the other. Then, you’ll fold down the sides to reveal the most regal crown.
Add a few of these to your table to make it more colorful — and fun. All you need are medium-sized napkins in yellow to get started. After a few folds, you’ll find your diamond shape, which will allow you to create flaps, a.k.a playful feathers.
There won’t be any fighting at the dinner table when these guys make a splash. After just a minute or two of folding, you’ll have the most adorable little fish. Add a touch of fun by using polka dot paper napkins.
Take your party to the next level with this deceptively easy technique. You’ll definitely want to use square cloth napkins so the shape holds better. To construct the atrium, create three layers by folding the points you’ve made into one another. It’s so much easier than it looks!
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