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Festive Napkin Folding Ideas for the Holidays

Linda is a writer and lover of cooking and entertaining. Unique preparation techniques, gourmet food, and fine wine are her favorite topics.

Nothing enhances a dinner quite like perfectly folded fabric dinner napkins. The simple act of folding a square dinner napkin instantly transforms an ordinary place setting. Consider this simple and inexpensive project to add a touch of class to any occasion. Make your next dinner party, holiday gathering or intimate dinner for two extra special with decorative folded cloth napkins. Napkin fold styles range from super simple to more advanced origami-like creations. With hundreds of styles to choose from you'll easily find the perfect napkin style to suit your particular event and skill level.

Prep Work

Purchase pure cotton or linen napkins. Napkins containing polyester or synthetic threads lack sufficient body and stiffness for most napkin fold styles. Print out folding instructions and photographs to use as a guide. Provide an ironing surface large enough to accommodate a single unfolded napkin. Arm yourself with a ruler and straight pins for more complex creations. Pre-wash your napkins, spray lightly with starch or sizing and iron flat to guarantee a crisp finished appearance. Set all napkin folds and pleats with the iron.

Iron your napkins flat then spray with starch once you begin the folding process.

Iron your napkins flat then spray with starch once you begin the folding process.

Simple but Classic

Stick to simple techniques when first attempting napkin folding. Nothing could be easier than creating basic shapes such as triangle folds, French folds, quarter folds or fans. You can accomplish these simple napkin fold styles in a matter of minutes. Basic napkin folds lend a classic and understated look to an informal brunch or Sunday dinner with the family.

Basic Fold

  1. Fold the napkin in half.
  2. Fold it again in half making a square shape.
  3. Take the top edge layer and fold it 1/3 down then turn it over.
  4. Take the sides and fold each one in toward the other. The folds should meet each side.
  5. Turn it back over and place the utensils into the napkin pouch.
This simple and basic fold is a tailored look for any table.

This simple and basic fold is a tailored look for any table.

Old School Designs

Formal napkin fold styles go one step further than the simplicity of basic folding techniques. The envelope fold is just as its name implies. Imagine a perfectly crisp napkin envelope placed neatly on each service plate or charger. The envelope napkin is an ideal spot to tuck a small gift or display place cards for each guest. The pyramid napkin fold is frequently seen at upscale restaurants. It resembles a three-dimensional triangle and is generally situated in the center of each place setting. Both the pyramid and envelope folds look complicated but multiple napkins can easily be created in an afternoon.

Envelope Fold

  1. Take the napkin and fold it in half diagonally. Allow the bottom edge to show at least 1/8 inch. Press each fold as you proceed.e show about 1/8 of an inch, and press the fold; press all folds as you go.
  2. Grasp the two bottom corners of the triangle napkin and fold them in so they meet at the midpoint. Next, fold the sides over to touch in the center.
  3. Fold the bottom half of the napkin up to 1/2 inch below the triangular flap. Fold the overlap down to close the envelope and finish with a light press with the iron.
Envelope napkins are a cute way to sneak in a note or gift.

Envelope napkins are a cute way to sneak in a note or gift.

Practically Genius

Practical napkin fold styles typically function as packets for silverware in a buffet setting. These fold styles allow a guest to easily transport utensils to their seat. The category of these napkin types include wraps and rolls. Create a simple wrap for an impromptu potluck dinner. Alternatively, employ fancy pocket napkins as breadstick or flower holders at each place setting. Napkin wraps and rolls completely secure individual sets of utensils within the napkin.

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Silverware Wrap

  1. Take the napkin square and lay it on a flat surface.
  2. Fold the lower edge up by 2 1/2 inches.
  3. Tuck the silverware place setting in behind the fold on the napkin's right side.
  4. Bring the the top edge down so the napkin is the same length as the knife.
  5. Fine tune the folds to make the top edge touch the fold at the bottom.
  6. Start from the right side and roll up the napkin snug around the utensils.
  7. Dress it up with a ribbon, floral wire or napkin ring.
Wrapped silverware is perfect for a dinner buffet.

Wrapped silverware is perfect for a dinner buffet.

Fancy Schmancy

Elaborate fold styles capture the imagination of your guests and take center stage at elegant dinner parties. To showcase your artistically folded napkin creations pair them with understated china, crystal and silver. Intricate napkin shapes take the form of fanciful birds, flowers, pinwheels, knots, hearts and hats. These napkins require additional time to create. Allow a day to plan and fold your fabric designs. If you have a knack for origami take cues from the folded paper shapes and create fancy napkins of your own design.

Lotus Fold

  1. Start with a folded napkin in half both ways diagonally. Press each fold to keep it in place.
  2. Open up the napkin and fold all the corners toward the center creating a smaller square.
  3. Flip it over and fold each of the corners to touch at the center.
  4. Press a finger on the napkin center, reach underneath and pull the flap up at each of the four corners to create the petals.
Pretty floral folds create a festive look any time of the year.

Pretty floral folds create a festive look any time of the year.

Cute Christmas Tree Napkin Fold

© 2018 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 20, 2018:

R Talloni, you're right. Just a simple cloth napkin on the dinner table adds a classy touch to any meal. Basic or fancy folds up the elegant quotient.

RTalloni on November 19, 2018:

Even a simply folded cloth napkin tells a dinner guest they are special to you. Dressing up the fold in a festive manner speaks the message even more clearly. Nice post!

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