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Turkey Napkin Fold

Fancy or otherwise, napkins did not appear in Europe until the seventeenth century; in the Middle Ages, a long cloth known in French as a longiere was attached to the side of the tablecloth for communal use.

Martha Stewart Living, November 2001

This turkey centerpiece was made from three linen napkins -- two for the fan of tail feathers and one for the head and breast (which is stiffened with aluminum foil). The discernible beak results from the white napkin's red border.

Tools and Materials

  • 3 linen napkins
  • Aluminum foil

Turkey Napkin Fold How-To

1. Fold a napkin in half diagonally, and press; press all folds as you go. Open napkin. Fold in the top two sides to meet at center crease. To make the turkey's breast and head, shape a folded piece of aluminum foil into a triangle; fit it into napkin as shown. The height of the foil triangle should allow for a bend at the bottom to keep napkin upright (about 3/4 length of napkin measured diagonally between opposite corners). This elegantly simple fold looks appropriate at either an informal meal or a formal one.

2. Fold napkin over foil.

3. Fold napkin sides in again, folding foil and linen. Tuck in bottom point to make a straight horizontal line.

4. Fold napkin in half.

5. Curve napkin point into a head, with open edges in back (if napkin has a colored border, the head will appear to have a beak).

6. Open bottom part of napkin, leaving head folded. Bend napkin and foil so turkey head sits upright on a plate.

7. To make a fantail, fold a second napkin almost in half so one portion is about an inch longer than the other.

8. Accordion-fold into 1-inch pleats.

9. Grasp folded napkin in the center; fold into a fan. Open one side of fan; use doubled-sided tape to bind the two ends of center pleat. To make a double fan, fold and pleat another napkin so it is taller than the first fan. Place one or both napkins behind turkey head and breast.

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