14 Different Napkin Folds That'll Instantly Dress Up Your Table Settings

Triangle Napkin Fold with Monogram
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow

The art of setting a table is one Southerners know well and practice often. And any veteran hostess knows the way to keep your table looking fresh dinner party after dinner party is to switch up the details. One of the most basic elements of table-setting that is surprisingly versatile is the dinner napkin. Of course they're a necessary part of polite dining, but your dinner napkins can make quite the visual statement as well, depending on how your fold and present them. You don't need to be an origami master to get the hang of the 14 folding techniques below, but you'll undoubtedly impress your guests with each one you test out.

01 of 14

The Napkin Roll

Pink Napkin Roll with Button Napkin Ring
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

We'll start simple with a classic napkin roll that's perfect for keeping a clean, minimalist table setting by hiding your silverware inside the napkin. If you've set up a buffet for serving food, wrapping up silverware in a tidy napkin roll makes the whole process of getting a plate and making it to a table much easier on your guests. Secure your rolls with a cute ribbon or napkin ring to keep everything in place.

02 of 14

The Simple Triangle

Triangle Napkin Fold with Monogram
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow

This is another easy napkin fold that prominently places your monogrammed or embroidered linens on display. You can add a ribbon or ring to add some volume to your napkins, or they can be folded flat and placed under the top plate or bowl at each setting, leaving just the monogram visible.

  1. Simply fold your napkin into square quarters.
  2. Orient the napkin so the monogrammed corner is facing you.
  3. Fold the left and right sides under the napkin evenly, creating a narrower point at the top.
03 of 14

The Diamond

Diamond Napkin Fold
Robbie Caponetto; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner

Mary Hollis Huddleston—aka Mrs. Southern Social—loves The Diamond fold. It can be rustic or fancy depending on your tablescape and linens.

  1. Lay a square napkin facedown, and fold in half from top to bottom and again from left to right, forming a small square.
  2. Fold back the top layer diagonally. Repeat with the second layer, stopping slightly short of the last fold. Repeat with remaining two layers. Flip the napkin over.
  3. Fold both bottom ends in toward the top, overlapping a little. Flip the napkin over, and place on a plate.
04 of 14

The Napkin Pocket

Silverware Pocket Napkin Fold
Robbie Caponetto; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner

Lend a touch of formality to your traditional rectangle napkin fold by creating a pocket to slip silverware into. The pocket is also the perfect place to tuck in a flower stem or sprig of herbs for a more organic tablescape.

  1. Lay a square napkin faceup, and fold in half from bottom to top to form a rectangle with the open end facing away from you. Fold the top layer halfway back. Flip over.
  2. Fold the napkin in half from right to left and then again from left to right.
  3. Flip the napkin over. Use the pocket to hold a dinner menu or flatware. Or tuck fresh herbs inside for an aromatic boost.
05 of 14

The Basket Napkin

Basket Napkin Fold with Place Card
Stephen Karlisch

If you're ready to wow your guests with a dynamic table setting, try out the basket napkin folding technique. This will add height to your place settings and the little "baskets" it creates are perfect for holding place cards, fruit, or flowers that will add to your overall theme.

  1. Lay your napkin completely flat face down. Fold the napkin in half from top to bottom. Then, fold it in half from top to bottom again.
  2. Place your finger at the top center point. Using your other hand, diagonally fold the top right corner down to the center. Repeat on the left side.
  3. Then, fold the top half up to form a vertical triangle. Holding the triangle in place, rotate the bottom right square 90 degrees and place it on top of the bottom left square. Now your napkin's ready for your place card.
06 of 14

The Bow Tie Napkin

Bow Tie Napkin Fold
Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Mindi Shapiro

Even if your event isn't formal enough to require wearing bow ties, your table can be dressed to the nines by folding your napkins into dapper bows and displaying them on top of your plates. The right ribbon can dress up even the simplest of napkins.

  1. Lay the napkin out flat, seam side up.
  2. Fold two opposite corners in, to meet in the center.
  3. Fold the napkin in half, from the bottom up. Fold the napkin in half again, from the top down.
  4. Fold the sides of the narrow rectangle in, to slightly overlap in the center.
  5. Slide a ribbon under the center of the folded napkin and cinch, tying it in a bow.
07 of 14

The Modern Knot

The Knot Napkin Fold
Robbie Caponetto; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner

A little less formal than a fancy bow, The Modern Knot makes for an interesting fold on your table. From casual lunches to picnics, this napkin gold will still bring the style.

  1. Lay the napkin facedown. Then fold in half diagonally, leaving the point of the napkin closest to you.
  2. Roll upward from the point, forming a 2-inch-wide band. Take the left and right ends upward over the center of the band, forming a triangle.
  3. Fold the right side up and over the left side, pulling through to create a knot.
08 of 14

The Rectangle

Blue and White Place Setting for Easter
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

This fold is delightfully easy and creates a sleek rectangular shape for your linens. Accentuated by a small ornamental feature, this fold provides a splash of simplicity in an otherwise complicated tablescape. It's perfect for Easter (we love these DIY marbled eggs), but can be tailored to any occasion.

  1. Lay the napkin out flat on the table. Fold in half horizontally.
  2. Fold the left side vertically to meet at 1/3 the length of the napkin.
  3. Fold right side in once to meet at 1/3 from the right side, then fold once more so the two sides overlap.
09 of 14

The Restaurant Fold

How to Fold a Restaurant Dinner Napkin
Alan Collins

You've seen this fold countless times in five-star restaurants, and now you can recreate it in your own home. With only six simple steps, the fold is much easier to master than it looks. If you're hosting a dinner party, these elegant napkin folds are sure to impress the guests.

10 of 14

The Napkin Ring

The Napkin Ring Fold
Miki Duisterhof; Styling: Eddie Ross

Napkin rings are an easy way to make any tablescape look elegant and refined. This is the ultimate hack to those who just can't seem to master a more complicated napkin fold. Don't have a set of stunning napkin rings at home? Don't worry! This simple tutorial shows you how to make DIY napkin rings with a few simple supplies.

  1. Lay the napkin out flat on the table. Pinch the center and lift up.
  2. Hold napkin ring over pinched end and slide down until it reaches the center of the napkin.
11 of 14

The Top Ring

Christmas Dinner Napkin Ring Ideas
Ralph Anderson

This slight variation on the traditional Napkin Ring fold is oh-so-easy and results in an elegant, sleek effect. To accomplish this fold, execute the Napkin Ring Fold and, instead of sliding the napkin ring to the center of the napkin, merely slide the ring an inch away from the top of the napkin. Fold the sides underneath to create a triangle shape and arrange as you please.

12 of 14

The Rustic Roll

The Rustic Roll
Southern Living

For this more casual variation on the clean-cut napkin roll, use our standard napkin roll tutorial with a few small alterations. This fold shows off the silver design by leaving the ends exposed, while the rest of the silverware is tucked into the napkin roll. Instead of tucking the ends under, leave them to fan out slightly and tie the bundle with a piece of twine. These napkins are perfect for a casual, yet elegant picnic.

13 of 14

The Wine Glass Fan

How to Fold a Napkin for a Wine Glass
Alan Collins

If you really want to show off your evening china, why cover the pattern up with a clunky napkin? This fold allows you to elegantly tuck linens in your wine glasses for a whimsical, refined presentation. Find the step-by-step tutorial here.

14 of 14

The Ribbon Tie

Purple and Teal Place Setting for Easter
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

This loose, casual fold draws inspiration from the classic napkin ring, but keeps the look approachable with the help of a sheer ribbon. This easy, breezy fold proves that perfection isn't always your best bet—sometimes your table will look just as polished with a simpler napkin fold.

  1. Lay the napkin out flat on the table and rotate to make a diamond shape.
  2. Hold the two middle ends and pinch towards the center, tucking the ends underneath the napkin.
  3. Tie a sheer ribbon in the center of the napkin and let the two exposed ends fan out.
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