Today is a roundup of
12 27 fun to fabulous napkin folds I’ve used styling tables for a variety of holidays, occasions and parties.
It’s not the St. Patrick’s Day theme post I planned.
Originally, I wanted to share our upcoming Ireland vacation itinerary, including details of the 10-day organized tour. Hubby and I also added five days on our own to explore the home towns and villages of many of his Irish ancestors. It’s to be a bucket list trip, and the fruit of my many years of genealogy study and research.
But, with the virus pandemic and worldwide emergency, I suspect our summer vacation to the United Kingdom is unlikely — at least when scheduled.
Instead, while we are all social distancing, I thought you might enjoy a little diversion. Because this too will pass, and then we’ll all want to return to normal, gathering together to celebrate holidays and special occasions.
I use affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission that helps to offset website operating costs with no additional cost to you. Your support is appreciated! Disclosure Policy.
Napkin Folds Enhance Table Settings
Over the past
two five years, I’ve incorporated different napkin folds into numerous tablescapes. Twelve, now 24 different folds and counting! Several I’ve used on multiple occasions; simply changing the color or print of the fabric for an entirely different look.
There are a number of great reasons for trying your hand at napkin folding:
- Enhance look of place settings
- Add “wow” factor to tablescape
- Coordinate with & extend table theme details
- Save the expense of buying napkin rings
- Add inexpensive new element to table setting
- Arrange in large basket for buffet setups
And, a collection of napkins in a variety of colors and prints takes little storage space — unlike most tableware which is breakable and bulky.
Clicking on pictures and post titles will take you directly to the table setting highlighted. For your convenience, I’ve also provided links to similar fabric napkins and illustrated how-to books available at Amazon.
Since it’s nearly St. Patrick’s Day, let’s start with a shamrock napkin fold.
The first napkin fold I tried, was the four-leaf clover in Elegant Tablescape for St. Patrick’s Day. Like many napkin folds, it didn’t require any ring to hold it together.
I placed a decorative leprechaun gold coin in the center of emerald green napkins I also use at Christmastime.
To be honest, the shamrock shape is one of the most challenging folds I’ve attempted, and probably wasn’t the best choice to start with first. I also failed to take the type fabric of the napkin into account. Because it lacked any sizing and was so soft, the petals tended to collapse. Lesson learned!
3 Napkin Fold Considerations
- Size of the napkin
- Softness or stiffness of the fabric
- Dimensions of the napkin (square vs rectangular)
Update: Two years later and I was confident enough to adapt the shamrock into a Lucky 3 Leaf Clover Napkin Fold Tutorial.
In contrast, my second attempt is probably the easiest napkin fold of all — a basic fan. After folding the fabric into accordion pleats, the napkin is inserted into a glass, allowing the pleats to open into a fan.
A fan fold also works well as turkey feathers, seen in the Thanksgiving Horn of Plenty Table— gobble, gobble!
Or, combine two napkin folds to make a more full-bodied gobbler as seen in, Liberty Blue Thanksgiving Table & Turkey Napkins.
Birds of a Feather Folds
Two other bird-shape napkin folds are the most recent additions to my repertoire. Both require inserting into a glass to hold the shape, but no napkin rings or ribbon.
First is a full-body peacock with long tail feathers spilling onto the table top. It’s a more complex fold that requires a large napkin, iron and multiple steps. See it on the fall transitional setting, Alfresco Brunch Peacock Table & Napkin Fold.
Or, try making this cute birdie to enhance a spring table setting. Although it was billed as a peacock fold, the quick and easy instructions yielded more of a basic bird shape.
Bunny Lays an Egg?
Simply folding pink napkins into a triangle, with a roll, twist and tie, transforms a square of fabric into cute bunny ears.
Inserted into the center of the bunny ear fold is a faux chocolate egg from the Vintage Easter Table with Chocolate Rabbit Centerpiece. You can also use a real or other style Easter egg. Or, no egg at all!
Like the flower napkin fold, my styling required a glass to hold the ears upright. But, you can simply lay the bunny ears fold in the center of a plate.
Another holiday option is this bunny-shape napkin fold (update: spring 2020). See how it looks in two different fabrics on the Sweet Rustic Rabbit Easter Table.
Isn’t the bunny-shape napkin adorable? I think it would also look great on a Peter Rabbit theme birthday or baby shower table. Since it holds its shape so well, you could make a bunch and put place them in a large basket on a buffet too.
Sweet, Simple Rose
Recently, I shared another super simple, rosette napkin fold on the In the Pink Valentines Day Table. Just fold into a triangle, roll, roll again, and tuck.
It only took me about 15 minutes to fold all 20 plus napkins.
Here’s a red rose fold for Valentines Day on the Puttin’ on the Ritz for Romantic Table.
Don’t you think a rose would be a lovely fold for a wedding reception?
Recently, for our eldest son’s Rustic Wedding Welcome Party, I made a bride’s dress and groom tuxedo folded napkins for their sweetheart table. Easy!
The first fold resulted in a more angular shape. Although, the heart would probably have had more rounded edges if I had used a softer fabric.
A more moderately difficult fold produced the result above. Because of the softness of the silky napkin fabric, the heart has a more draped look.
I made the red napkins from a 50 by 70 inch tablecloth bought on clearance. For the cost of two napkins, I made 12! You might also consider repurposing an existing cloth into napkins, if the size no long fits your table. Another idea is to repurpose a stained tablecloth into napkins, cutting around the soiled markings.
Either heart napkin fold would also look great for an anniversary celebration, bridal shower luncheon or even a wedding reception. Which one do you prefer?
For a fully-illustrated, step-by-step tutorial to make the soft draped look, see Fold a Heart-Shape Napkin for Valentines Day.
Spread Your Wings
For spring and summer garden theme tables, bridal showers or even wedding settings, consider the relatively easy butterfly fold.
I included it in the June 2022, Botanic Garden Dishes: Floral & Butterfly Summer Table. No napkin ring or ribbon are needed. The folded napkin lies on top of a copper color, twig-handled fork.
Two other pretty napkin folds for spring or summer table settings imitate large floral blooms.
First is a modification of the lotus flower fold used in the When Life Gives You Lemons, Set a Lemon Table. Because no ironing or ring is used to hold the 12-petal flower shape in place, it can be a bit tricky to handle.
Bird of Paradise
Later, I tried my hand at a little more challenging napkin fold for the Palms, Parrots & Paradise Tropical Tablescape. It’s a great look for a summer tablescape.
At the time, I couldn’t find any orange color napkins for the Bird of Paradise fold. So, I used the same green napkins as the four-leaf clovers for St. Paddy’s Day. Once again, a stiffer fabric would have made it a tad easier for the petals to stand.
A couple of years later, I used a bright pink napkin for Fun Flamingo Tropical Table Kicks Off Summer.
Also great for summer (update August 2020), is the Jungle Table & Palm Leaf Napkin Fold.
It’s the third time folding the same turquoise napkins, but for different tables in unique shapes.
Having visited the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, I was inspired to create a napkin fold to resemble an Olympic torch. Can you see a resemblance to the flame shape?
It’s the first time I made up a napkin fold of my own! I loved how it showed off the olive-embroidered design of the linens. But, unlike many of the folds, it does require napkin ring like these Greek key rings with decorated napkins.
Back to Napkin School
A month later I was back at it, trying another new a napkin fold to accompany a Back to School Table.
It’s described as a fleur-de-lis, the ancient French symbol of a bee. Another easy fold, this one held together with cute little tags (Target) rather than using rings. Learn how at Easy Fleur-de-Lis, Bee Shape Napkin Fold Tutorial.
Although the fold was made for a September table with a buffalo check napkin, it would work year-round in fabric of any color or pattern. Here’s the same fold used on an Alfresco Bee Theme Tablescape & Florals.
With a dressier napkin, it could look quite elegant on a more formal table like, French Inspired, Royal Bee Theme Table.
Can’t you picture it for a wedding reception?
Apples or Pumpkins
Much to my delight, I found directions online for an apple-shape napkin fold to accompany September’s Fall Harvest Table.
Both McIntosh red and Granny Smith green fabric napkins were used to create the apple-shaped fold. Fresh leaves came from the tree in my front yard.
Although you can’t see them, basic napkin rings are needed (underneath) to create the relatively easy fold. Most of the effect involves puffing and plumping up the fabric.
To impress the gang for a Pumpkin Patch Thanksgiving Brunch, I used the very same napkin fold. With a few minor alterations, apples became pumpkins!
All I did was use a variety of fall prints and shades to make pumpkin shape napkins for 16 guests — seated across three different Thanksgiving tables. Wine corks represented pumpkin stems embellished with paper leaves. See them in, Thanksgiving Table Setting: When Three’s a Charm.
My young nephew said they were, “awesome!”
Bone to Pick
Earlier in the fall, I set an over-the-top, Spooktacular Skeleton at the Feast Halloween Table.
If you look to the left, you’ll see a femur bone shape napkin made of skeleton print fabric. Another super simple napkin fold, it basically involves rolling and tying knots at each end.
This fold holds together well, and would work for a Halloween buffet setup with bone shape napkins being held in something like a large plastic cauldron.
Don’t you think the bone fold would also be adorable for a dinosaur or puppy dog theme children’s birthday party?
Skeleton or Mummy
An alternative Halloween napkin fold (added October 2020) is this unique skeleton or mummy shape.
It’s another quick and easy napkin that I adapted from a “ragdoll” fold. All I did was top it with a lightweight skull (Michaels). See it on the Halloween Gothic Glam Table.
Number 19 napkin fold was created for a Batty Black, White and Purple Halloween Table.
Of the two different techniques for folding a napkin into a bat shape, this was my favorite.
Witch, Elf or Leprechaun Hat
My latest Halloween napkin fold is in the shape of a witch’s hat. See my Spooky Spellbound Halloween Centerpiece and Table for link to video tutorial, directions and tips.
By changing the napkin fabric to red or green, the versatile fold can be used as an elf or leprechaun hat on Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day tables too!
Oh Christmas Tree!
For the Downhill Dinner at Ski Cabin Winter Table, I used an evergreen shape napkin fold to complement the setting.
Although I decided to use snowflake napkin rings to embellish the tree shape fold, they aren’t necessary for it to hold it’s shape.
Of course, the easy tree shape would also look festive on any holiday table.
I also used it for Enchanting Winter Woodland Tablescape for Christmas. And, you can see it held its shape without a napkin ring.
Most recently in, Bringing Home the Christmas Tree Holiday Table, I used a different fabric and layed the napkin fold flat on the plate.
More to Come
Looking ahead, I’m hoping to try more napkin folds to add interest and variety to seasonal and holiday tables. I’ve already ordered two of the books listed below for ideas and inspiration.
Another key reason — I’m pretty much maxed out on storage space for any new dishes and glassware! Creative napkin folds allow me to play with styling new table settings — using much of the tableware I already have.
Which napkin fold is your favorite? Have you tried any of them yourself?
Subscribe to the Buzz
Receive an email notice on Wednesdays or Saturday mornings; whenever Debbee publishes a new post --- about twice monthly.