6 Napkin-Folding Tutorials That Are *Genuinely* Easy to Follow

You’ve watched enough Chef’s Table that you feel ready to whip up a Michelin star-worthy meal at home, but to truly have a top-notch night in, every little detail matters. Spring for the good wine, brush up on your floral-arranging skills for that centerpiece and try your hand at any one of these napkin-folding tutorials. They look impressive, but they’re deceptively easy to make (as in, you can fold each one in two minutes or less—some in just seconds). We’ll give you a step-by-step breakdown of each one, as well as a difficulty ranking (1 = great for newbies, 5 = you’re practically a cruise ship towel artist). But, honestly, the easiest way to learn is simply by watching each video below.

The Secret to Pro-Level Napkin Folding:

It’s all about starching and ironing to get clean, crisp lines. Start with a freshly washed (and dried) linen napkin. Spritz on starch (we like The Laundress’s Stiffen Up), giving the formula a few seconds to set, then iron your napkin using the appropriate heat setting for the type of fabric you’re using. This will give the napkins just the stiffness they need to hold their shape, particularly if you’re creating designs that stand upright.

Our Favorite Napkin-Folding Ideas:

1. the Easy Peasy

“Easy” is in the name for a reason; it doesn’t get much simpler than this. The Easy Peasy is best for illustrated napkins, because it really lets you show off the artwork.

Level of Difficulty (from 1 to 5): 1

How to Make It:

  • Place the napkin art-side-down on the table (when you flip it over at the end, it will be revealed).
  • Fold the left and right side of the napkin so the edges meet in the center.
  • Fold the entire napkin in half again, forming a long, skinny rectangle.
  • Flip it over and place it diagonally across the plate.

2. the Bow

It’s pretty, not prissy. Plus, you can throw together each bow-shaped napkin in less than 30 seconds. Pinky promise.

Level of Difficulty: 1

How to Make It:

  • Fold the napkin just an inch shy of being in half.
  • Fold it again, this time perfectly in half.
  • Flip it over and fold both ends inward, letting them overlap slightly.
  • Slide a napkin ring in the middle of it.
  • Flip the napkin back over and fluff each side so it fans out, creating a bow shape.

3. the Envelope

Simple, clean, classic. There’s nothing cheesy about this envelope-shaped napkin.

Level of Difficulty: 2

How to Make It:

  • Place the napkin on the table so that one corner is facing you (it’ll look like a diamond shape, rather than the standard square).
  • Take the right corner and fold it two-thirds of the way across the napkin.
  • Repeat with the opposite corner—it will go just past the edge of the napkin, forming a little “tail.”
  • Tuck the “tail” in.
  • Grab the corner at the bottom (closest to you) and fold it about a third of the way up.
  • Now fold it another third of the way up.
  • Grab the top corner and fold it down, forming a closed envelope shape.

4. the Diagonal Pocket Fold

This napkin-folding technique looks sophisticated, but once you see how easily CV Linens breaks it down, you’ll be ready to try it in no time. The pocket design is great for stowing silverware, a narrow menu (or name card), or giving guests a surprise-and-delight moment with a mini memento, like a fresh-cut flower.

Level of Difficulty: 3

How to Make It:

  • Lay the napkin in front of you, forming a square shape. Fold the napkin in half horizontally, then fold it in half vertically. It should look like a small square.
  • Find the open side of the napkin and position it away from you. Grab the open corner and roll back the top layer halfway. Repeat with the next two layers.
  • Flip the napkin over. Grab the left and right sides of the napkin and fold it into thirds.

5. the Christmas Tree

Let’s be real: If you’re showing off your napkin origami skills, it’s probably for a special occasion (though kudos to you if it’s just an average Tuesday). This twee tree is a festive way to set your table during the holiday season.

Level of Difficulty: 4

How to Make It:

  • Fold the napkin in half.
  • Fold it in half again and rotate it so that the opening is facing toward you (it will look like a diamond shape overhead).
  • Starting at the corner closest to you, grab the very top layer of fabric and fold it toward the top corner, about half an inch shy of touching it. Repeat with the remaining layers of fabric, folding each one half an inch below the previous layer.
  • Place your hand on top of the tree and flip the entire napkin over.
  • Run your finger along the bottom edge of the napkin, stopping at the center. Hold your finger there.
  • With your other hand, grab the bottom right corner of the napkin and fold it over diagonally. (The bottom corner will touch the left edge of the napkin, about an inch or so under the top corner of the napkin.)
  • Fold the other corner over diagonally. It’ll look like you’re staring at a frilly cone with a pointed top.
  • Flip the pointed top of the cone toward you.
  • As napkin artist and YouTuber Jenny W. Chan says, it’s OK if the bottom edge of the napkin still peeks out at the top—it’ll fix itself when you flip the cone 180 degrees, turning it over to form your tree shape.
  • Tuck each of the pointed corners under, forming a straight line (aka the layers of tree branches).

6. the Screw

Here is where starch becomes crucial, not just for helping the napkin stand upright, but also for creating that gentle, gravity-defying swirl.

Level of Difficulty: 5

How to Make It:

  • Place the napkin on the table so it looks like a square in front of you.
  • Fold the napkin in half.
  • Run your finger along the folded edge until you reach the center. Hold it there.
  • With your other hand, grab the top layer of fabric from the bottom right corner and fold it over so it meets the bottom left corner.
  • Press down to form a solid crease. Flip the corner back over to the right side.
  • Now, reach for the bottom left corner of the napkin. Grab the top layer of fabric only and fold it over so it aligns with the bottom right corner. Press down to form a solid crease. It should look like a wide triangle right now.
  • Grab the left corner and fold it over, so it meets the right corner. (Look at that sweet little isosceles triangle you’ve made!)
  • Starting at one of the two equal-length sides, roll up the napkin. Stand the napkin up on the table, letting it unfurl slightly. Use your fingers to adjust the edges of the napkin, propping it up, so it won’t tip over.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...