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How to Set A Table Napkin

09 January, 23

Types of Napkins

When setting a table, napkins can be an important detail in creating a polished look. Whether you want to go formal or casual, there are different types of napkins you can choose from. From cloth napkins to paper napkins, the right kind of napkin will add a touch of elegance to any table. Let’s look at the different types of napkins available and how to set them up:

  1. Cloth napkins – These are usually made of linen, cotton or silk and are usually folded and placed to the left of the place setting.
  2. Paper napkins – These are usually made of tissue paper or paper towels and are usually placed to the left of the place setting.

Cloth Napkins

Cloth napkins are the traditional choice for formal dining and add a sophisticated style to your table. They can be made from various fabrics such as linen, cotton, polyester or blends and come in a variety of sizes, colors and patterns. Cloth napkins are often thicker than paper napkins, more absorbent and more expensive.

Depending on the fabric chosen, cloth napkins may also require laundering after use which adds an extra measure of added cost. Additionally, they should be laundered in warm temperatures with gentle detergents to ensure they don't fade or shrink over time.

Cloth napkins offer the most classic look for your table setting, though you may find that higher quality fabrics offer additional appearance improvements as well as durability and prolonged use over time.

Paper Napkins

Paper napkins are an economical and hygienic option for everyday meals. These disposable, often patterned napkins come in a range of colors and prints, adding style to the mealtime atmosphere.

Paper napkins are most commonly used for wiping hands and faces during meals, but they can also be used to cover trays or wrap food when transporting it. They’re a great choice for picnics and outdoor dining as they’re lightweight and easy to carry.

Typically made from bleached or unbleached paper pulp, paper napkins come in various grades ranging from budget-friendly paper dinner napkins to higher quality dinner napkins which are thicker and softer. To ensure hygiene, keep napkin dispensers stocked with fresh supply of unused parchment paper dinner napkin rolls or packages at all times. Paper dinner napkin rolls usually contain 500-1000 sheets so you never run out.


The placement of a table napkin is one of the most essential steps in properly setting a table. The napkin should be placed in the center of the plate, either folded or loosely placed in a fan. This sets the tone for the rest of the table setting, and it also adds a nice decorative touch to the table.

Let's discuss the ins and outs of napkin placement in more detail.

Placement on the Plate

Proper placement of a table napkin is one of the most important details for creating a completed look when setting a formal table. A properly folded and placed napkin adds colour, texture and balance to the setting. The placements below explain how to correctly set your napkin on the plate and create an elegant, formal look at any meal.

Placement on the Plate: The traditional way to set a table is placing the napkin in the center of the place setting, slightly off-center towards the guest's left or right side. This placement ensures that guests have easy access to their napkins when needed, yet keeps them away from any other tableware so they remain relatively clean throughout the meal. Other variation includes folding it into an envelope shape and then leaving it flat on top of the plate or tucking one edge into a soup bowl. However you choose to place your napkin, making sure it stays neat and clean through to completion of your meal should be priority for adding sophistication and etiquette at your dinner table.

Fold the Napkin

When folding your napkin, the goal is to achieve an elegant and symmetrical shape. The most popular shapes are triangles, fans or squares. Begin by laying your napkin flat on the table.

Triangle: Fold one corners of the napkin to the opposite corner and then fold each side in again at a 45° angle. You end up with a triangle shape. This fold is great for casual dinners, and will help keep larger tables looking neat and organised - perfect for busy occasions!

Fan: Start by folding the two opposite sides in at 45° angles towards each other resulting in a diamond shape. Once again, fold one corner of the diamond at a 45° angle towards its opposite corner. Rotate and do same with remaining corners until you have created an eight-pointed fan design - this is perfect when you want to make a statement of style during special events or romantic dinners.

Square: This fold is often used for breakfast table settings, but can also look great when matched with detailed dinnerware sets that have intricate designs between their edges. Begin by folding all four corners together towards its centre – creating triangles – then tuck those together to form a square base shape. Finally adjust each layer so that the folds blend neatly into each other - forming spotless and sophisticated squares!


Setting a table with the right accessories can add elegance and sophistication to any dining experience. Napkins in particular can provide a stylish touch to the table setting. Napkin accessories can range from simple to ornate and can be used in various ways to highlight the overall setting.

Let's explore some of the various napkin accessories available and how they can be used to add a touch of class to your table setting:


Table utensils are a necessary accessory when setting a table, and they come in many choices, shapes and sizes. For example, bread plates often have their own sets of butter knives with serrated edges and full-length blades that allow the butter to be spread on the toast with ease.

Other utensils could include:

  1. Forks for dishes such as soups, salads or entrees.
  2. Spoons for dishes such as soups, salads or entrees.
  3. Knives for dishes such as soups, salads or entrees.
  4. Platters for showcasing special dishes.

Utensil choice depends on what type of dish is being served as well as personal preference. Using an array of utensils not only makes the food easier to eat but also allows guests to enjoy it in style. Always ensure that the tableware is arranged thoughtfully so that guests can switch between utensils without feeling awkward or confused about which one is needed for each dish. To finish off your table setting, napkins should be placed rolled from left to right or folded into elaborate shapes to add a touch of elegance.

Place Cards

Place cards are traditionally used to designate an individual's seat at a formal event, such as a wedding or anniversary celebration. Place cards can be printed with guests' names, written with calligraphy, or adorned with decorative embellishments. They serve to make each guest feel comfortable and welcome.

To set a place card at the table napkin, fold the card so that it stands upright on top of the folded napkin. If a menu is also included at each place setting, neatly tuck it behind the folded place card so that both are clearly visible. After all of the guests have arrived and been seated, you can remove the place cards. Doing this will create an inviting scene for everyone to enjoy their meal together.


When setting a table for a formal or special occasion, it is important to arrange the table linens and napkins in a particular way. Proper arrangement adds a touch of sophistication to the table and makes for a more enjoyable dining experience.

We will discuss the various ways to produce a professional-looking arrangement for the table napkins:

Alternating Folded Napkins

Making a beautiful table setting with napkins is an easy way to elevate any affair. Alternating folded napkins are perfect for the more formal occasions and they will add to the décor of your table.

To achieve this look, first start with a large square cotton or linen napkin. Lay it out flat and place it in front of you so that it looks like a diamond. Then, fold one end halfway over the other end at an angle, so that both edges meet at the center showcasing one colour against the other colour. Turn over the folded design so that a neat triangle is in front of you; press or iron any creases out of the fabric to ensure your napkin will look sharp when laid on your table.

Finally, tuck one end slightly into the other side and lightly pull on both ends to create some folds running through out each side as if you’re making an accordion paper fan. Once both sides are pulled tight, shape them up neatly and place them onto your table setting. There you have it – alternating folding technique complete! Add complementary elements to beautify your centerpiece even more!

Fan Napkin Folds

While a fan napkin fold perfectly complements formal dining, its clean lines and pleated center also provide a neat backdrop for everyday meals as well. You'll find use for this fold in casual or elegant settings – or even as part of an eye-popping centerpiece.

To create your own fan napkin fold, here's what you'll need:

  • A rectangular napkin (20–22 square inches will work well)
  • A table to work on
  • Iron (optional)

To begin unfolding your masterpiece, start with your folded square. Unfold it flat onto the table or countertop and smooth it with an iron if needed. With the wrong side facing you, take a corner of the cloth and bring it up to meet the opposite corner. This should create a triangle. Refold this triangle in half by taking one of the exposed corners and folding it across until it meets the other corner. Now repeat with one of these available corners until you have completely folded in half again twice more (the enclosed shape will be an eighth of your original rectangle).

Next, working on both outside angles at once; repeat again until you have almost reached the center’s edge – there should be two small flaps left at that point that are still uncreased. Now take one half and pleat it just slightly like an accordion before pressing down firmly at its center crease line while folding inward so that each end should just barely touch. Do the same to other side before gently pressing everything together slightly so that shape is held closed in fan shape appearance topped off with round centerpiece dot from fringe folds atop your creation!

Finishing Touches

Finishing touches are an important part of setting a table. They help to add a special touch to the dining experience and can make a difference in making the table look inviting and elegant. A well-placed napkin can be the prefect finishing touch and is quite simple to do.

Let's explore how to properly set a table napkin:

Napkin Rings

Once you’ve selected your napkins, the finishing touch is to add a napkin ring. Napkin rings add a sense of elegance to your table setting. Most rings are made of metals including brass, silver and pewter, but can also include crystal, rhinestones and beaded designs. They come in many shapes & sizes from simple shapes such as circles or hexagons to even whimsical objects like animals and insects.

Napkin rings have been around since the 19th century when upper class dining began gaining popularity. The use of a napkin ring ensured that diners would have a fresh napkin for each course of their meal.

Today however, they're often used as an artistic way to enhance the aesthetic feel of your table setting or an easy way to keep track who's siting where at formal dinners and special events like wedding receptions or holiday dinners. When placing napkins on tables with multiple settings (separate places), remember that it’s best practice to coordinate lovely looking features like that so it will look better once everything is set up!

When using rings for multiple place settings, be sure to mix up the designs so no two are identical; this will give more interest around the entire table without being too distracting or overwhelming. Also, always make sure to measure each place setting before placing them together; otherwise you may find that some placemats may be too big for one ring and not fit snugly around its companion!

Napkin Decorations

The finishing touches to the tablescape add a unique touch to your dining experience. A napkin decoration is one such touch, adding both style and personality to your table decor.

Ideas for decorating napkins are varied and many. When making a choice, you should consider the event or theme of your gathering as well as the overall feeling of elegance or informality you'd like to achieve. Popular napkin decorations include:

  1. Tying with ribbon or twine: Use different colors and textures of ribbon to create a chic bow or decorative knot around the napkin – perfect for more formal gatherings
  2. Twisting into shapes: If space allows, you may want to try creating "flowers" out of twisted fabric strips for a vibrant and eye-catching look – great for outdoor parties
  3. Embellishing with charms: Dabble in jewelry making by attaching charms, beads, and tassels onto each corner of the napkin – perfect for that extra special touch
  4. Arranging with rings: Napkins can be crafted into rings with blooming florals or stunning crystals in side – best used at high end occasions

No matter which type of decoration you choose, keep in mind that placements should coordinate with the overall style and tone of your celebration!


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