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Although paper napkins have largely replaced cloth napkins in the home, some people still like the more formal look a nicely folded napkin gives to a place setting, and they are a necessity for a formal dinner. There are many different ways to fold napkins. A few are easy and attractive, while some rival origami in their intricacy. However, most people can learn a few easy folds.
One of the easiest ways to fold napkins is the rectangle. Suitable for a more casual table, a square napkin is folded once down the middle, forming a rectangle. This is good for a smaller napkin. For a large napkin, the rectangle is folded into a square and then into another rectangle.
Another good way to fold napkins is the French fold. This fold is elegant, suitable for a formal table, but very easy. Fold the napkin diagonally and orient it so the fold is to the left. Bring the top point down and slightly to the right and below the bottom point. Fold the right-hand, slightly squared-off point down over the first fold and slightly to the right. The result is three folds with a point at the top. This is then draped over the plate.
The standard restaurant silverware roll is another good way to fold napkins. Fold the napkin diagonally, and orient with the long end facing you. Place the silverware in the middle of the napkin, lengthwise, and about an inch from the fold. Fold the long points over the silverware. Starting at that end, roll the silverware into the napkin and leave the pointed end on top. This is a compact roll, good for packing in a picnic, or for a casual lunch setting.
Using a napkin ring is probably the easiest way to fold napkins. With other folds, the napkin should be pressed and lightly starched, but with a napkin ring, it won’t matter. Simply place the napkin flat. Pick it up in the middle, forming a point, and put the pointed end through the napkin ring. Pull the end through about midway, fluff the free ends nicely and the result is a neat place setting.
Numerous other ways to fold napkins are available all over the Internet. Someone wishing to learn this art can practice with square paper towels, or real cloth napkins, if available. Folded napkins do make a table look neat and give it an air of style that goes beyond the usual place settings.