Napkin Folding Basics: 2 Fancy Ways to Fold a Dinner Napkin | The Old Farmer's Almanac

How to Fold a Dinner Napkin: 2 Easy Napkin Folding Ideas

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Use These Napkin Folding Techniques for Your Next Dinner Party!

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How do you fold a napkin properly? Here are two easy ways to fold cloth napkins for your next shindig, including the classic dinner napkin fold, as well as two more fun techniques to enhance your beautifully set table in only a few minutes!

Which Way Does the Fold Go On a Napkin?

Let’s start with the most basic question, “Which way does the fold go?” The answer: The folded side always faces the plate. So, if your napkin is placed to the left of your plate, the fold will be on the right.

Another option is to place the dinner napkin on the dinner plate. Simply open the entire napkin, fold in half to form a rectangle, fold that rectangle to form a square, and fold that square into a smaller rectangle. Then place down the center of the plate with the folded side to the right.


For celebratory meals, it’s fun to offer guests cloth napkins folded into decorative shapes. Below are two easy techniques, the “Pyramid” and the “Pocket.”

How Do You Fold a Napkin So It Stands Up?

Wash and press linen napkins flat before they are completely dry. Starch for best results.

The Pyramid

The Pyramid is a classic technique:

  1. Place a pressed square linen napkin face down on a flat surface. (The underside, which may have a tag, is face up at this stage.)
  2. Fold the square napkin in half diagonally by taking one corner and placing it on top of the corner opposite it. You should now have a large triangle.
  3. Arrange the triangle so that the fold is toward you and open ends are away from you.
  4. Take the right-hand corner by the fold and place it over the corner up top. Do the same for the left-hand corner. The inner edge of the right and left sides should meet evenly in the center. Smooth the folds.
  5. Turn the napkin over so that you can work on the other side. The folded edges should still face toward you, with open ends away from you.
  6. Fold the napkin in half by taking the bottom corner and placing it over the top corner.
  7. Raise the center to draw in the two sides and form a pyramid. You’re all done!

Tip: Is your napkin too limp to stand up correctly? Iron it with a little extra spray starch before you begin folding.

Make a Napkin Silverware Holder

The Pocket

Another classic napkin folding technique is called the Pocket:

  1. Place a pressed square linen napkin face down on a flat surface. (The underside, which may have a tag, is face up at this stage.)
  2. Fold the napkin in half vertically by taking the right side and placing it over the left. Make sure that the edges meet evenly.
  3. Fold the bottom of the napkin up so that it covers about 3/4 of the rest of the napkin.
  4. Fold the new bottom of the napkin so that the top edge meets the top edge of previous bottom fold. The edges should align evenly.
  5. Turn the napkin over and straighten as needed.
  6. Take the left edge of the napkin and fold it over so that it meets the center.
  7. You will now have a small pouch in the folds on the left side.
  8. Fold the right side of the napkin over to the left side, tucking the bottom part into the pouch described in Step 7. Straighten the edges of the napkin as best you can.
  9. Turn the napkin over. You’ll see a pocket available for silverware.
  10. Arrange your fork, knife, and spoon in the pocket and you are set to go!

That’s all there is to it! Now you’ve got beautiful napkins for your next party.

Interested in learning how to set a table correctly? See our easy table setting diagram.

About The Author

Heidi Stonehill

Heidi Stonehill is a senior editor for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, where she focuses much of her time on managing content development for the Almanac’s line of calendars. Read More from Heidi Stonehill

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