Napkin Folding

Martha Stewart Living, November 2001

The year's most anticipated home-cooked meal deserves a table that surpasses expectations. This Thanksgiving, arrange for your napkins to receive as much praise as your turkey

In 1639, a book on entertaining, published in Padua, Italy, revealed some of the taggeringly artful folded napkins then in vogue. They included a fish with open mouth, back fin, and swishy tail; a galleon rigged with four buxom sails; and a fortress topped by five turrets. More than 350 years later, Emily Post declared in Etiquette that "very fancy foldings are not in good taste."

Today, between the extremes of high napkin art and puritan napkin restraint, plenty of pleasing folds have survived to give you the chance to add an unexpected flourish to your holiday table. If you are expecting a sizable crowd for Thanksgiving dinner, you will need to start your folding early.

Our classic folds work best with square napkins, preferably linen or cotton. Be sure to starch them, and press each fold as you work. The result will be the snappiest-looking napkins you've ever laid at table -- and your guests' best oohs and aahs.

The Folds
Open Book
Four Feathers


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