How to Fold Napkins

Decorating, Featured Article, Home & Family, Seasonal
on November 5, 2012

Entertaining during the holidays means tables brimming with delicious dishes and adorned with festive trimmings. When setting a holiday table or for any other special occasion, an elegant or whimsically folded napkin can add some flair.

Consider five easy tips to spruce up your holiday table with creative napkin shapes.

1. Cloth napkin sizes. Square-shaped napkins provide a better medium for napkin-folding designs. Luncheon napkins typically are smaller than dinner napkins. Look for cloth luncheon napkins measuring 18-inches-by-18-inches or 20-inches-by-20-inches and cloth dinner napkins measuring 22-inches-by-22-inches or 24-inches-by-24-inches.

2. Material. Opt for sturdy linens such as a double-damask weave. According to the Napkin Folding Guide, damask weaving threads one type of fabric (such as silk) with another (such as flax) to create a “heavier fabric that is especially responsive to making fancy folds.” A cotton or poly-cotton blend is also foldable-friendly, especially for less intricate folds such as a basic cone fold, silverware pouch fold or scarf fold.

3. Preparation. Before folding each napkin, it needs to be laundered, starched and ironed. Starching is a key component to preparing the cloth napkin prior to folding. The starch in the fabric makes it easier to create and hold the folds, ultimately allowing the napkin to keep its form when it is placed at the table setting. Refer to the tag on the napkin for laundering instructions.

4. Choosing your folds. Holiday table settings should be special. Consider five styles of napkin folds for your holiday table:

  • Scarf fold
  • Cone fold
  • Basic silverware pouch
  • Arrow fold
  • Standing fan fold

The scarf fold requires a napkin ring and allows you to show off your most festive holiday rings. To create the fold, simply lay the napkin flat, grasp it with your fingers at its center and insert it through the napkin ring. The cone fold requires a few more steps:

  • Lay the napkin flat and fold in half with the open end facing away from you.
  • Fold the left half over the right half.
  • Turn the napkin so it resembles a diamond shape with the open end away from you.
  • Fold the top layer of the open end toward you.
  • Flip the napkin over.
  • Fold the left side over about two-thirds and then do the same with the right.
  • Tuck the corners into the left side to create the final cone shape.
  • The folded napkin should have a slight pouch. Slip a candy cane or small silk floral inside before setting the napkin atop the dinner plate.

5. Creative touches. The basic silverware pouch fold allows you to slip the silverware into the napkin. You also can add a peppermint stick or sprig of holly for a Christmas dinner. The arrow fold shape looks similar to a paper airplane and is a great way to showcase napkins in rich seasonal colors. Likewise, the standing fan fold allows you to show off the print of the cloth.