Folding napkins is a fun, yet elegant way to dress up your table beyond the basics of dinnerware and centrepieces. There's an art to folding napkins, but it doesn't have to be a complex one. Many of these folds are pure practicality, even though they look like they belong in a five-star restaurant. Tuck in silverware or keep bread warm with some of these folds. Others are decorative, so that your table always looks polished and interesting--whether you're cooking the nightly dinner for your family or a celebratory meal after a big win, achievement or holiday.
Let's start with a napkin that makes a big impact, but takes almost no time to arrange at each plate around the table. Try this fold for formal occasions when outfits might have bows, too.
Spread your dinner napkin flat on the table.
Fold the opposite sides inward to meet in the centre.
Fold horizontally to create a thin strip, like a ribbon.
Fold the short ends into the centre.
Finish with a napkin holder that keeps the bow in place.
Try stackable napkin holders like a stackable napkin ring set so that you can customize the centre of your bow to any width you like.
Angled Pocket Fold
This simple fold can be used to tuck utensils into an angled pocket you create with the napkin. A square napkin in a crisp cotton fabric gives this fold a sharp look that is still approachable enough to keep the table feeling warm and casual.
Fold your dinner napkin in half.
Fold in half again, so it's in quarters.
Fold the top layer on the open corner over to lay flat on the opposite corner.
Turn the napkin over.
Fold it into thirds.
Turn it back over.
Tuck utensils into the pocket.
You can show off your creativity by tucking more than just utensils into this napkin. Flowers complement place settings, while herb sprigs tie into the flavors of the meal.
When you want to make a visual splash, but you don't have a lot of time, knots are the way to go. Loose, yet sophisticated and airy, a knotted napkin shows you took care with the place setting, but it lets you stay focused on other parts of your culinary creation. Just gather your napkin diagonally and tie a knot in the centre. If you want more embellishment for a dinner party, you can place name cards under the napkins, so the knots are by the names.
Napkin scrolls are another easy way to present your napkins. Linen cotton napkins are great for creating an organic, crumpled look that, in some cases, bespeaks more elegance than a stiff or starched napkin.
Lay the napkin flat.
Roll one side inward toward the centre.
Roll the other side inward toward the centre.
Turn the napkin over to display the scrolled side.
If you have oversized or generous napkin holders, such as marble and brass napkin rings, you may want to run the scrolled napkin through the ring.
Flat-Folded Napkin Wrap
Lay a napkin flat, fold it into thirds and tuck the ends underneath the plate. Although this is easily done, it's still unexpected, since your guests are used to the napkin being on the side of the plate.
Rose Napkin Fold
The rose-napkin fold is the signature of French chef Auguste Escoffier and deserves a place at the finest dinner tables. This fold is more than just a gasp-worthy decoration, though. It keeps rolls piping hot out of the oven, so the butter melts inside them right away when served. This fold is advanced, so try it a few times before you serve the bread; otherwise, the rolls may get cold while you press down creases.
Fold your napkin in half diagonally and diagonally again.
Press the folds with your fingers to create creases.
Open the napkin back up.
Fold each of the four corners toward the centre to make a square.
Repeat the step above twice, making a smaller square each time.
Turn the napkin over.
Fold each of the four corners toward the centre to make a square again.
Press your finger into the centre of the napkin.
Reach underneath the napkin and gently pull each flap to form a cup.
Pull the remaining corners out in the same fashion to make petal shapes.