5 Easy, Festive Napkin Folds for the Holidays

three folded napkins with holiday christmas decor and napkin rings

Mercedes Victoria Maldonado / Getty Images

If you're looking for simple, easy ways to add festive touches to your holiday table, these napkin folds will do the trick. They can be created with cloth napkins — preferably ones that have been ironed with a little starch to make them crisp — or with paper napkins that are a bit stiff.

I tried each of these folds to make sure an amateur napkin folder could pull them off. I didn't iron or starch the one red napkin I own, but even without crispness, the folds worked. The folded napkins add a little extra cheer to my already cheerful Pfaltzgraff Nordic Christmas dishes.


red folded napkin bow on plate

Treehugger / Robin Shreeves

This bow is a very simple design that could be elegant depending on the color napkin and napkin ring you choose. I don't own any napkin rings, so my bow is held together at the center with an old, scratched up ponytail holder. (Just imagine a pretty silver napkin ring in its place.)

Christmas tree

red napkin folded into a Christmas tree on reindeer plate

Treehugger / Robin Shreeves

This Christmas tree fold was one of the easiest of the five. It would definitely look better with a napkin that didn't have the perforated trim, but you can see how this design adds an extra Christmas-y touch to the place setting. A few of the videos that demonstrated this fold had the tree standing up at the end; if I had starched my napkin, I could have made this one stand.

Elf boot

red napkin folded into Elf boot shape on reindeer plate

Treehugger / Robin Shreeves

You'd probably be better off using a smaller napkin for this elf boot fold (the one I used was a 20-inch square) so your boot doesn't look like the elf who wore it could play for the NBA. But, it was much easier to create than I thought it would be, and I got it on the first try.

Wrapped gift

red cloth napkin folded into gift shape to hold silverware on plate

Treehugger / Robin Shreeves

This was my favorite fold of the five I tried, and the one I'll be most likely to use on my own table — with a different shade of green ribbon. I like that I was able to use holly from my backyard. (If you're going to use this napkin fold for kids' place settings, I wouldn't recommend using the prickly holly!) You can add any natural element you're able to forage, or you can purchase something from the craft store.


red napkin folded into candle shape

Treehugger / Robin Shreeves

This was my least favorite of the five, but it was definitely simpler to do than I thought it would be. On my first try, I wrapped the napkin too tightly, but on my second try, I got it right. You need some sort of holder at the bottom to make it stand. A simple round napkin ring would probably work. I used a piece of cut toilet paper tube. If decorated, the tube would work well.