17 napkin folding ideas to impress your guests

Make your table settings stand out with some impressive napkin art.

woman folding napkins

by Emily Gilbert |
Updated on

If you’re in need of some napkin folding ideas to spruce up your table display, then you’ve come to the right place. Whether it’s for a formal dinner, or a seasonal celebration, such as Christmas or Easter, a pretty-looking napkin can be the perfect finishing touch to any table spread.

With a little bit of creativity and patience, you can turn a boring, flat napkin into something rather beautiful and eye-catching. You don’t need to be an origami pro either to be able to fold napkins, as it’s a lot easier (and quicker) than you think.

From the simple ‘pocket napkin fold’ to the more creative ‘star napkin’, there’s a napkin folding idea for everyone to help catch your guests attention.

How to fold paper napkins

1. Pocket napkin folding for cutlery

This is a very easy napkin folding pocket technique, and works great with thicker linen napkins and cloth napkins, that are trickier to work with on some other folds.

It also means you can tuck the cutlery away in the pocket, keeping your table looking neat and tidy.

As with all of these folds, make sure you're using a flat surface - it will make it a lot easier!

Watch the below video to see how to make a basic pocket fold napkin:

2. Floral napkin folding idea

This rosebud fancy napkin folding technique is a popular choice for more formal occasions, such as for wedding napkins.

It's a bit fiddlier to do, but the finished napkin flower is really effective. Watch the video below to see how to make a napkin rose.

3. Fan folding napkin idea

This is a very satisfying simple paper fan napkin fold to do, when you turn the napkin out and the fan pops up! It's a good fold for more fragile paper napkins.

If using thicker material such as cloth, a top tip is to use your iron to get those crisp pleats.

4. Star napkin folding idea

Once you become confident with a fan fold, a good one to try next is a star napkin fold.

You just need one square napkin to make this impressive fold.

5. Flower napkin folding idea

This is a great fold for Christmas, particularly if using a vibrant red napkin as the finished napkin looks like a Poinsettia flower.

It would also make a great table setting for Easter, using different coloured pastel napkins.

6. Christmas napkin folding - Christmas tree napkin folding idea

Wondering how to fold a napkin for Christmas? We love this tree idea.

It looks great with a little ribbon on top too - you could even purchase a tiny string of battery powered fairy lights to decorate each napkin tree!

7. Swan napkin folding idea

Napkin swans are a classic napkin animal fold, using traditional Origami techniques.

Although this napkin bird fold may look tricky, once you know the technique they're very simple to make, and look brilliant swimming across your table setting.

Want to have more time to host? Try out these batch cook recipe books to master the art of cooking ahead.

8. Crown napkin folding

Treat your guests like royalty with a crown napkin on their plate.

This fancy crown napkin fold is sometimes referred to as the Bishop hat napkin fold too and it also doubles up as a brilliant 'basket' for little table favours or name cards.

9. Heart napkin folding idea

A perfect fold for Valentine's day, there are actually three ways to create a heart napkin fold - as the below video shows.

Read our at home date night ideas

10. Napkin folding in a glass

There are lots of ways to display your folded napkins in your glassware. We like the below technique, it's really simple to do and is another good option if you're using thick linen napkins.

11. Pyramid napkin folding idea

Super simple to do, this easy pyramid napkin is an effortless addition to your dining table.

It's similar to a basic arrow napkin fold, but we think it gives a more finished look.

12. Elf hat napkin folding idea

Another fabulously festive option to dress up your Christmas table. We love the addition of the pom pom on top!

Watch the video below to see how to fold a napkin into a hat, fit for Santa's little helper:

13. Butterfly table napkin folding idea

Choose a floral patterned napkin for this butterfly fold, for a lovely table setting perfect for spring and summer.

14. Sailboat napkin folding idea

This is a really sweet idea for a themed party, child's party or perhaps a 'Bon Voyage' going away party!

15. Ring napkin folding ideas

Surprisingly, not too many people know how to fold a napkin with a ring but this YouTube video will show you five different ways, including how to fold a napkin into a bow.

16. Turkey napkin folding idea

A popular idea if you celebrate Thanksgiving, why not give this turkey napkin fold a go at Christmas in ode to the popular meat choice on December 25th?

17. Triple pocket napkin folding idea

This is a popular napkin fold often used at restaurants, which you can now recreate in your own home, that will keep your cutlery looking neat and tidy.

Stuck for dinner ideas? How about this delicious lamb recipe, and for dessert, this warming sticky toffee pudding. find a slow cooker recipe.

Shop ethical napkin folding kits

It's so important to think sustainable in everything we do, so we’ve researched the best options for an eco tabletop.

Napkin folding is an easy and eco-friendly way to transform your table, as you can easily create different themes with the same piece of fabric.

From eco materials avoiding glitter and plastic, to recycled napkins and local suppliers, here's our pick of the best eco napkins and table setting products...

The Cheeky Panda Bamboo Napkins
Price: £3.99

These eco friendly 'tree-free' disposable napkins make a great sustainable paper napkin alternative. Made from 100 per cent FSC Certified Bamboo, with no plastic, fully recyclable packaging. Cheeky Panda also donate a proportion of profits from every pack purchased to help protect the rainforest.

Green linen napkins hand sewn in the UK using premium quality 100 per cent European linen (Oeko-Tex Standard 100). These handmade serviettes are long lasting, ultra absorbent, naturally dirt-resistant and they dry quickly. The ideal choice to update any dining table or great addition to a wedding decor as well. Available in a range of colours alongside moss green, you can mix and match the colours to achieve a stylish look.

A set of six birch wood napkin rings. They would look fabulous on a naturally dressed Christmas table. Made from birch logs hand-picked from maintained woodland. The wood is air-dried and can move and crack, and bark can separate slightly for the wood over time. This is a natural process. Measurements 2 inches in diameter by 1.5 inches in height If you would prefer them taller or different quantities, the manufacturer can make them to your specifications.

Marley's Monsters 100 per cent cotton white unpaper towels come in a pack of 12. Reusable and washable, they are the perfect alternative to disposable paper towels and paper napkins.

These linen napkins are available in a huge range of colours, and come in a set of 12 so it's a great value pack for even large families or get togethers. The natural linen cotton fabric can be washed and reused time and time again.

The Napkin Folding Kit: Elegant Yet Easy Ideas
Price: £7.84

Folding napkins into different shapes is something simple and enjoyable to do for the whole family, and is a great eco-friendly way of transforming a table with a simple piece of cloth. This book shows you how. The Napkin Folding Book is a gift kit that includes a linen practice napkin and a 128-page book that describes how to create elegant and easy designs to decorate a table. The book will take readers step-by-step through the folds necessary to create everything from peacocks to bouquets to sailboats and much more!

Naanle Poppy Floral Cloth
Price: £6.98

These cloth napkins are a large size of 20 x 20 inches, which can cover a large surface area and would even work well as hand towels. The front is made of Peach Skin Velvet, which are wrinkle-resistant, highly absorbent and oh-so-soft. In fact, these cloth napkins will get softer the more you wash them without unraveling.

How to reuse unwanted paper napkins - decoupage napkins

There's always a paper few napkins left that don't match - and all too often end up getting thrown away, or tucked into that drawer and forgotten about.

A great way to reuse old paper napkins is to try out decoupage. Decoupage is a really simple but effective craft using coloured paper cutouts and glue (or mod podge) to decorate an object, such as plant pots, furniture and walls.

This is a brilliant craft for left over patterned napkins, but you can also use wrapping paper, old magazines and newspapers, so it's a really environmentally-friendly craft!

All you need, as well as your chosen papers, is some glue and a brush.

If you don't feel confident in your decoupage technique there are lots of kits for beginners to try out, which have everything you need to give decoupage a go.

Du00e9copatch Nature Kit
Price: £12.40

This pack contains paper, glue, brush and boxes and hanging products for decorating. Once decorated the boxes and hanging bird decoration make great homemade gifts. You'll be a decoupage master in no time!

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