Folding napkins in different ways can add a bit of fun for your everyday casual dining or bring elegance to a formal dinner party.
This guide outlines how to fold a napkin into various shapes and gives you napkin folding ideas for using cloth napkins and napkin rings for situations when you want a table setting to show some additional flair.
Casual Napkin-Folding Techniques
When setting your table, place the napkin to the left of each plate, with the fold on the right side and the unfolded corners on the top left. You can also opt to place the napkin on top of the dinner plate, creating a slightly more formal, layered look for the table.
For a casual look everyday use, you can fold your washable cloth napkins into a simple square, rectangle or triangle. The folded square is frequently the first step for folding a napkin into other shapes.
How to Fold a Napkin into a Square: FILE #: 224124143 tied
Start with the napkin lying flat, face down.
Fold the napkin in half once lengthwise.
Fold the napkin in half again crosswise.
You can stop there, or for a smaller square: Fold the napkin in half again lengthwise, then crosswise a final time.
When folding napkins for silverware, add some character to this simple fold by placing the flatware on top of the square and then loosely tying the bundle at the center with raffia.
Folding Napkins Into a Rectangle
It’s easy to master folding a napkin into a square. Once you have that down, you’re just one fold away from making a rectangle.
How to Fold a Napkin into a Rectangle:
To have folded napkins in the shapes of rectangles, follow instructions for making a square and then simply make one more fold lengthwise.
As with the square fold, you can leave the rectangle as is, or add seasonal embellishments tied with ribbon for an entertainer’s touch.
Triangle Folded Napkin
Once you’ve folded the napkin into a square, fold it in half diagonally, so the bottom right corner meets the top left corner. Position on the table with the triangle’s long side next to the plate.
When you want to be a little fancy, fold the triangle in half again and stand it on upright on the center of the placemat or on top of the plate.
How to Roll a Napkin with Silverware
Rolling or folding napkins for silverware can be handy if guests are serving themselves buffet-style or when space at the dining table is tight. Here’s how to make this portable package, similar to what you might have seen servers place on tables in casual restaurants.
Start with the napkin lying flat, face down.
Fold the napkin in half diagonally, so you have a large triangle.
Place the silverware – fork and knife; or fork, knife and spoon – on top of the napkin, along the center of the bottom of the triangle (the triangle’s longest side).
Fold both the right and left triangle points over the silverware. It should now look sort of like an envelope flap.
Roll tightly upwards, until you have a silverware roll.
Fancy Napkin-Folding Techniques
When folding napkins into more complicated shapes, you’ll need a large flat surface. Starched cloth napkins aren’t required for all shapes, but they will hold folds better and thus are easier to work with, especially for beginners. For best results, always iron your napkins flat before you start folding them. If you can’t get the hang of it before your dinner party, just pull them through napkin rings or napkin holders without folding them at all.
These instructions are meant for cloth napkin folding, but you can follow the same procedure when using household essentials like paper napkins.
How to Fold a Napkin Like a Swan
For best results, start with a freshly starched napkin. Otherwise, your folds may not hold — the napkin will be too floppy. You could also try this shape with a thick paper napkin.
Fold the napkin in half and then in half again, to make a square.
Working on a flat surface, arrange the napkin like a diamond with the folded edge on the left-hand side, so the corner with no folds is at the top.
Fold the left and right sides in so the edges are aligned with the top corner and the napkin makes a kite shape.
Flip the napkin over so the folds are on the bottom side.
Fold the left and the right edges into the middle again. You should now have a narrow kite.
Fold the bottom point of the kite up so that it meets the other point at the top.
Fold the narrow part of the point down about an inch to form the swan’s head.
Fold the entire napkin in half vertically, so the back edges of the swan’s neck meet and the head pops forward. Gently pull the neck forward a little more.
Pull up the loose corners near the swan’s tail to resemble feathers. Arrange on a dinner plate.
How to Fold a Napkin Like a Rose
Start with a freshly ironed napkin. You don’t need a starched napkin, but it may make this shape easier.
Fold the napkin in half to form a triangle.
Fold up the bottom of the triangle about 1-1/2 inch, or whatever length you prefer. This determines the height of your rose. (Taller roses have thinner folds, shorter roses have wider folds.)
Continue folding up until you’ve got about twice the amount of unfolded napkin as the height of your fold.
Flip the napkin over from top to bottom, with the point facing down.
Start rolling in from left to right until you reach the other end.
Tuck the loose end underneath your outer edge.
The underside of the rose should have a corner with two layers of napkin. Pull them gently in opposite directions.
Pull the outer layer up around the rose.
For a leaf on each side, twist the other leaf and pull it around the rose with the same motion. For two leaves on the same side, don’t twist and just pull around the rose.
Arrange on a dinner plate.
How to Fold a Napkin Like a Heart
For a romantic gesture, place a heart-shaped napkin onto the place setting.
Fold the napkin in half, then in half again in the same direction, so you have a very skinny rectangle.
Fold the left half up, similar to how you would start a paper football or a fold a note in grade school.
Repeat with the right half.
Fold the inner corners at the top of the napkin down and underneath.
Repeat with the pointy corners at the top left and right so it looks more like a rounded heart.
Arrange on a dinner plate.
Angled Pocket Folded Napkin
Create pockets for flatware sets with folded napkins for special-occasion dinners.
Start with the napkin flat with the seam side on the table.
Fold in half from bottom to top. Then fold in half from the right side to the left to make a square.
From the upper left, fold the top layer diagonally to the lower right corner.
Flip the napkin over.
Fold the left third toward the center and then the right third.
Turn the napkin over again and insert flatware into the pocket.
Napkin Folded Like a Fan
A fan-shaped napkin on a plate gives is a warm greeting for your dinner guests. A heavily starched napkin is necessary for this upright design.
Lay the napkin on your table with the seams up.
Fold in half vertically, pressing down the seam.
Make a series of accordion-type folds roughly 2-inches wide, using an over-under pattern.
Press down on each fold as work your way toward the top.
When you reach about 4-inches from the top, carefully flip the napkin over so the folds are underneath.
Fold the napkin and the horizontal folds in half, right to left, keeping the folds together.
Take the corner of the napkin toward the accordion folds to make a triangle, and then tuck that corner into the center of the folds.
The triangle will prop up the fan when you turn the design upright and gently spread the folds into a fan shape.
Casual Use of Napkin in a Napkin Ring
Using different simple folds along with napkin rings can produce results to fit the dining situation or the overall look of your set table. Simple napkin rings can add a bit of refinement and fancy napkin rings can be dressed down, depending on how the napkin is inserted into the ring.
Cloth napkins and napkin rings for a casual table:
Start with the napkin lying flat, face up.
Place the napkin ring in the center of the flat napkin.
Pinching with your fingers, pull the center of the napkin through the ring, and then fan out the bottom.
Flared Napkin in a Ring
You can create a setting that’s slightly more refined if the napkin is flared from both sides of the napkin ring.
Fold the napkin into a square.
Make two or three accordion-type folds along the width of the square.
Pinch the folds and slip the napkin through the ring.
Gently smooth the ridges to flare the ends.
Napkin folding ideas are unlimited. Learning some basic ways to fold a napkin and use napkin rings creates plenty of opportunities for you to dress up your dinner table.