3 Simple Ways to Fold Cloth Napkins

A woman folding a napkin

The Spruce

You don’t have to drain your bank account or spend an entire weekend working on floral arrangements to dress up your celebration tablescape. There’s a much simpler way of beautifying your guests’ place settings: napkin folding. Rather than investing in multiple sets of dishes or a variety of table accessories, decorative folded napkins can help make things look fresh every time you set the table. It's a simple way to inspire awe in your dinner guests.

While some of these napkin folds look complicated and tricky, they are remarkably simple. All it takes to master the technique is a few practice tries and perhaps a little bit of spray starch. From personal experience, our team found it’s actually helpful to make some mistakes—these false starts can help you memorize and master the correct folds.

Here are three easy decorative napkin folds that you can master in a few minutes. It's best to review the video (above) along with the written instructions.


3 Fancy Napkin Folds That Are Easy to Learn!

How to Fold a Napkin Rose

This pretty flower fold is perfect for baby showers, bridal showers, and spring brunches. We love the idea of using a variety of differently colored napkins to personalize the table setting for each attendee.

Napkin folded into a rose on plate
The Spruce
  1. Fold the Napkin Into a Triangle

    Lay out the napkin on a smooth, flat surface and fold it diagonally so one corner meets the other corner, producing a triangle.

  2. Roll Up From the Bottom

    Position the folded triangle so the angle where corners meet is at the top and the long leg of the triangle is downward. Beginning rolling up the napkin from the long bottom edge toward the top corner.

    Keep the roll fairly tight and flatten out the napkin with your fingers after each turn. Stop about 2 inches from the top, so that a small triangle extends upward from the tightly rolled napkin.


    If your napkin is stubborn about rolling into a tight shape, try lightly spraying it with water before rolling.

  3. Rotate and Roll

    Rotate the rolled napkin 90 degrees counterclockwise, so that the point of the triangle faces left and the rolled cylinder portion is oriented up and down.

    Roll the napkin up from the bottom, again keeping the roll tight. When complete, you will have a wheel-shaped roll with two triangular flaps extending outward on one side.

  4. Tuck in the End

    Once you've rolled to the top, turn the napkin roll on its side so the spiral is facing you. Tuck the tip of the napkin into the bottom of the roll to hold it in place.

  5. Spread the Petals

    Place the napkin so the spiral side is down. There should be two triangular sections of the napkin "sprouting" out from the bottom of the roll. Pull those up and out until they look like petals or leaves extending from the bottom of a flower blossom.

  6. Flip and Style

    Flip your napkin over so the spiral faces up and the petals are at the bottom. Position a napkin rose alongside each place setting.


    Depending on the size of your napkin, the amount of cloth extending above the rolled portion may need to be more or less than the recommended 2 inches. Experiment with different measurements until you produce a rose that is realistic in appearance.

How to Fold a Napkin Elf Boot

Any winter holiday celebration could use these adorable folded napkins. The shape of the elf boot is nostalgic and playful, with a design that is intricate enough to delight and impress your guests.

Elf boot napkin
The Spruce
  1. Fold Napkin in Half, Twice

    Lay out the napkin on a smooth hard surface, then fold the bottom two corners up to meet the top two corners, producing a rectangle. Then, take the long top edge and fold it down again to meet the bottom edge, resulting in a long rectangle with four layers of cloth.

  2. Fold the Sides In and Down

    Carefully fold the top left and right corners in and down so they extend well below the rectangle, meeting at the bottom The top sides should now be angled, with an overall shape that resembles the profile of a simple peaked house viewed from the side

  3. Fold the Sides in Again

    Using an action much like folding a paper airplane, fold the left and right sides inward, aligning the edges with the center gap. When complete, the shape will be a narrow upward-facing triangle that resembles the shape of a classic Christmas tree.

  4. Fold Right Side Into the Left Side

    Now, take the entire right side of the napkin and double it over onto the left side. This produces another, even narrower, upward-facing triangle.

  5. Rotate Napkin, Fold Corner Up

    Rotate the folded napkin 90 degrees counterclockwise so that the open edges of the napkin face to the right, with the long tip of the triangle pointing left.

    Lift the right corner flap and fold it so it points straight up. (This is a tricky step, so refer to minute 1:35 in the video above for exact instructions.)

  6. Fold and Tuck

    Take the newly exposed bottom flap from the right side and fold it across towards the left, then tuck the fabric into the slot on the pointed "toe" portion of the boot. (Another tricky step—refer to minute 1:40 of the video above for exact instructions.)

  7. Stand the Boot Up, Create the Ankle Flap

    Stand the boot upright. Then. take the flap that extends straight up and invert it so that it encircles the ankle area of the boot.

    Finish by placing the elf boot napkin atop the dinner plate of your place setting.

How to Fold a Napkin Christmas Tree

To sprinkle in some holiday cheer, dress your table up with these fun tree napkins. The folds are simple but produce a pretty effect reminiscent of the evergreen boughs we love to decorate during the holidays.


To get crisp edges and to ensure your napkin stands on its own, we recommend ironing each napkin and spraying liberally with starch before you begin folding.

Christmas tree napkin
The Spruce
  1. Fold the Napkin in Half, Twice

    Lay out the napkin on a smooth, flat surface, then fold the top two corners down to meet the bottom two corners, producing a rectangular shape.

    Next, take the left two corners and fold to the right to meet the right corners, producing a square shape with four layers of fabric. The open edges of the napkin should be on the right and bottom edges.

  2. Rotate, Pull the Top Flap Up

    Rotate the napkin clockwise 90 degrees so the bottom right corner now closest faces down, with the folded napkin in a diamond configuration. The open edges of the napkin are on the either side of the bottom point of the diamond.

    Fold the uppermost flap up toward the top point of the diamond, stopping about 1 inch from the tip.

  3. Repeat With Remaining Flaps

    Take each remaining flap of the napkin and fold it up, so the point of each flap is about 1 inch from the tip of the preceding flap.

  4. Flip the Napkin Over

    Turn the entire napkin over so the flaps you've just folded are facing down onto the work surface. This side of the napkin should be smooth and have no folds in it. Rotate the napkin so that the center point of the napkin is facing you.

  5. Fold the Sides In

    Take the left side of the napkin and fold it over to the right so that the point of the flap is just past the center point and the bottom edge of the flap is horizontal. (See minute 2:20 in the video.)

    Repeat with the other side, folding the right side back over the left side. This should produce a diamond-shaped folded napkin, with the narrow point of the diamond facing up.

  6. Flip and Fold

    Flip the napkin back over to the side that has the overlapping flaps; the tips of the flaps should all point downward.

    Starting at the top, fold each flap upward. As you move downward, tuck each flap tightly into the fold above.

  7. Stand and Style

    Slightly spread out the base of the folded napkin, then stand your napkin "tree" upright at each guest's place setting.