Napkin Folding Ideas

Here are a few sweet napkin folding ideas for afternoon tea. You can make them with paper or cloth table napkins. If you would like to make your own table napkins, see my easy to follow tutorial here

The little flower napkin folding idea is very sweet and it's surprisingly easy to do. 

This one is made out of tissue paper and it's really tiny and good for decoration. But you can make them out of paper napkins and then use them as bowls, or just as prettily folded napkins to put on the plate.

This rose napkin folding idea is one of the easiest napkin folds that I like to use. It takes only a few seconds to fold it up, and it looks so pretty in a teacup.

This is one of the times when it really is important to use fabric napkins. Paper ones don't drape as nicely.

These simple napkin folding ideas will really finish off your table design beautifully. My favourite is the pocket design with fresh flowers tucked in...

Simple napkin with flowers

Simple with Flowers.
Click here to go straight to the instructions.


Simple Fold.
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Pocket Fold.
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You can use any flowers to fill the pocket fold with. I like to use leaves in the autumn and wild flowers in the summer. In the winter, I sometimes use berries and even twigs.

You can use either cloth or paper napkins. Cloth napkins are the best, for sure. They fold more softly, and they are nicer to use.

The advantage of paper napkins is that you don't have to worry about cleaning them afterwards.

Cleaning linen napkins can be difficult. If they don't clean properly, they can be left with spots that don't look very pretty.

I don't tend to be too elaborate for afternoon tea with my napkin folding ideas. I have three favourite designs that I use.

These napkin folding ideas can all look very different with different coloured napkins, or with different flowers for dressing.

If you use paper napkins, make sure they are coloured on both sides otherwise when you fold them, the white shows and it doesn't look so nice.

For more napkin folding ideas, look at this napkin folding site. These more elaborate designs are great for a more formal evening dinner.

Simple with Flowers

Simple napkin with flowers
The beauty really is sometimes in the simplicity.

This looks best with small napkins on little side plates. These napkins are actually cut out of an old pink sheet!

Lay the napkin flat.

Pick it up from the centre so that it drapes down.

Choose a plant or flower with a longish flexible stem, such as a sweet pea, some ivy or some clematis.

Tie it round the napkin.

A Pocket for Flowers or Grasses

This is a fairly straight-forward fold, but its beauty lies in the pocket which is formed. This can be used for fresh flowers from the garden, herbs or even dried grasses and leaves. Don't over fill the pocket, just a small sprig is sufficient.

Pocket fold 1

Start with the napkin fully opened out.

Pocket fold 2

Now fold the napkin in four so that you have a square which is one quarter of the original size.

Pocket fold 3

If you are using paper napkins, this is how they come out of the packet.

Pocket fold 4

Now fold this in half diagonally so that the top point has all the loose edges.

Pocket fold 5
Take the first layer and fold it over and over itself four or five times as you fold it down to the long edge of the napkin. See this and following pictures. This will form the cuff at the bottom (long edge) of the triangle.

Pocket fold 6

Pocket fold 7

Pocket fold 8

Pocket fold 9

Take the next flap of material and fold it so that the point just overlaps the cuff at the bottom. See this picture and the one below.

Pocket fold 10

Pocket fold 11

Repeat this with the next flap, but make it slightly shorter.

Pocket fold 12

Repeat this with the third flap, and make this one slightly shorter than the last.

Pocket fold 13

Now carefully turn the napkin over.

Pocket fold 14

Fold the right point up to the half way mark of the left hand edge as in this picture and the one below.

Pocket fold 15

Pocket fold 16

Now fold the left hand point up to the half way mark on the right edge as in this picture and the one below.

Pocket fold 17

This will lock the cuff in place.

Pocket fold 18

Turn it over carefully.

Pocket fold 19

Fill with flowers, herbs, leaves, berries, twigs, etc.

Quick and simple fold

This really is very quick to do, but looks quite elegant. It does work better with linen rather that paper napkins, but here I have shown it made with a paper napkin.

Simple fold 1

Start with the napkin completely opened out.

Simple fold 2

Now fold it diagonally in half to form a triangle.

Simple fold 3

Fold in one of the corners.

Simple fold 4

Fold in the second corner.

Simple fold 5

This will leave you with a square with an open seam running from top corner to bottom corner, like this.

Simple fold 6

Turn the napkin so that the loose corners are at the top.

Simple fold 7

Now turn it over from left to right.

Simple fold 8

Fold the bottom corner up about half way.

Simple fold 9

Turn it over again.

Simple fold 10

Fold the right hand side in to the centre, as in this photo and the one below.

Simple fold 11

Simple fold 12

Repeat with the left hand side as in this picture and the one below.

Simple fold 13

Simple fold 14

Carefully turn the napkin back over again and place on a side plate.

I think it's nice to make sure there are a few extra folded napkins on hand just in case a spare is called for.

If you enjoyed these Napkin Folding Ideas, you might be interested in getting some ideas about Tea Party Etiquette.