How To Fold Paper Napkins

For holidays, birthdays and special family gatherings, you can learn how to fold paper napkins and grace the dinner table with beauty and elegance. Far less complicated than traditional origami, napkin folding grants flat paper napkins the three dimensional beauty of table art. Surprisingly, the most beautiful techniques for folding paper napkins are at times the simplest, repeating a folding pattern until a beautiful shape emerges. Though there are many ways to learn how to fold paper napkins, here’s a selection of the prettiest and simplest folds.

  1. Ring fan napkin fold. To learn how to fold paper napkins, begin with the simple yet stunning fan fold. Lay the napkin flat on the table and make a horizontal straight fold on the bottom between 1/2 an inch to an inch wide, depending on the size of the napkin you are folding. Hold the fold with the tip of your fingers and turn the napkin over. Now fold the napkin again in the opposite direction, repeating the exact width so that the new fold will sit directly atop the former. Turn the napkin again and repeat the first and second steps, then continue alternating back and forth to fold the paper napkin into an accordion. When you reach the end of the napkin, fold the paper accordion in half with the fold on the inside, then slip the fold through a napkin holder or tie the stalk of a silk flower in a circle to make your own napkin holder. Keep half the folded paper napkin sticking over the napkin holder and spread it open like a fan.
  2. Standing Fan Napkin Fold. The fan fold can also be used without a napkin holder to create an open paper napkin fan that sits in the middle of a dinner plate. Create the accordion fold but stop two inches from the end. Fold the paper napkin in half, but this time with the fold on the outside. Tuck the two inch unfolded end diagonally behind the back of the fan to trap both sides of the fan together. Then rest the bottom of the fan on the plate and spread it open. If you are folding very thin paper napkins, it’s a good idea to tie the center of the fan with rough twine, straw or a silk ribbon for added beauty and stability.
  3. Fleur-de-lis Napkin Fold. For an elegant napkin fold that you can slip in a flute of wine or glass goblet, learn how to fold paper napkins into the symbol of royalty, the Fleur-de-lis. Lay the paper napkin on the table and fold it diagonally in half. With the open fold facing you, fold the tip of the triangle up so that it will overlap a little above the straight edge of the paper napkin. Now fold the paper napkin into an accordion as you did with the napkin folds above, this time working from left to right. When finished, insert the central base of the folded napkin in a glass holder with the protruding triangle tip facing up to form the top of the Fleur-de-lis napkin fold.
  4. Twin candle Napkin Fold. For a more tailored look, fold paper napkins into the flutes of candelabra candles. Lay the paper napkin on the table and fold it diagonally in half. Roll the napkin starting at the wide side of the napkin and working your way to the tip. When you end up with a napkin tube, fold it at the center then slip the base of the tube into a napkin holder. Rest the napkin holder flat on the table or dinner plate, so your folded napkin flutes stand upright.

As you learn how to fold paper napkins your skill will improve and with it more intricate folds will capture your imagination. Your dinner table never need look drab again.

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