The simplest napkin arrangement can become an expression of creativity and shows guests you've put extra thought into a meal. No need to feel intimidated by fancy folds or expensive accessories. Whether you use cloth or paper, inspiration can come from a party theme, time of year or the type of meal being served. Paper napkins come in prefolded rectangles, but use the large square size to achieve a variety of options. Consider how your favorite restaurant displays their napkins, or observe details at a catered event for inspiration.
Fold your square napkin edge to edge for a rectangular shape or corner to corner for a triangle. A napkin folded into a rectangle and placed horizontally over a square plate is a modern approach. For the triangle, keep the long edge vertically straight on each plate for a neat appearance. Place one leaf, flower or flower petal on top of the napkin. Create playful contrast by using a vibrantly color napkin over a white plate. A napkin with a pattern is best left without embellishment.
With your napkin flat on the table, place it in a diamond shape and fold each left and right outer corner in toward each other. Flip the napkin over and place it on the dining plate. Add a fresh sprig of thyme or rosemary on top for simple elegance. A crisp white napkin with a beautiful edge detail adds a feminine touch to this presentation. If you've had your cloth napkins folded away in a drawer, put the napkins in the dryer on low heat for a few minutes to soften wrinkles and folds. This works for a tablecloth as well.
Lay the square napkin flat and place flatware in the center. Fold one side of the napkin over the flatware and roll closed. Place the roll on the plate with the seam side down. For a finishing touch, tie it with a ribbon that coordinates with your decor or go for something playful such as red ribbon with white polka dots. Tie with raffia for a nature-inspired theme.
Flame With a Ring
Lay the square napkin diagonally so one of the corners faces you. Use two fingers to pinch the center of the napkin and hold it up. Slide a napkin ring over the top tip of the napkin until it reaches the middle so the bottom of the napkin flares out under the ring. Place the napkin in the center of a dish upside down so the flared part faces up so it almost looks like a flickering flame. Invent your own napkin rings by using inexpensive beaded bracelets. Tuck in your favorite stemmed flower or small branches and holly for added dimension.