Take a square napkin, any type, any size, linen or paper. Fold it in half then in half again and you have another square. In two basic movements you have actually created the first stage of a napkin fold. A vast majority of napkin folding designs actually start this way. Paper napkin and airlaid manufacturers have saved us the trouble, as these two stages of the fold are already done.

The objective of the book is to take you one stage further than these two steps and give you the skills to create anything from the most basic to the more elaborate napkin fold design. It also gives you sufficient confidence to eventually make a fold that you may call your own creation.

As the objective of creating a beautiful napkin fold is to enhance your table presentation and create a harmonious atmosphere. Your dining room is better served by the use of the correct style and size of napkin fold, and the right colour in respect of the room décor. The height of ceiling or even the external view from the window is quite relevant to the best choice of napkin design.

For example, high standing napkins are more appropriate in rooms where the ceiling is fairly high and vice versa. However, if the view from the dining room window or balcony is a gift of natural or picturesque view, it is not advisable to use a napkin design that conflicts with that view. Obviously this principle is not applicable to special events where a suitable napkin fold honours the purpose of the formal occasion. Goes without saying that in a restaurant situation uniformity between all table is very important.

Furthermore, if your dining room and table setting is quite avant-garde in its style of decor, a plain napkin fold will be more suitable to enhance the modern look, where as an elaborate fold, would be more appropriate in a retro style of setting.

Should the dining room table have a glass top or a highly polished veneer surface, you may find that certain designs of napkin folds will not hold as well as when a tablecloth covers the table. There is no shortage of designs to choose from to overcome this situation.

A folded napkin in a glass no doubt creates a magnificent visual effect to the entire dining area. This is a very suitable choice for a marquee — a wedding reception for example — when the emphasis is on creating a sumptuous setting and, as is often the case, the ceiling is nothing special to look at. It is also very appropriate for banqueting venues where all the guests take a seat at the table at the same time, and the first course is already on the table. There are occasions where space at the table is at a premium and no space for a napkin.

A napkin in a glass is also better suited to a round table rather then one that is long and narrow as it gives a sumptuous eye-catching effect. On certain occasions, where an individual gift is part of the celebration, it makes even more sense to have the napkin in a glass in order to create more space on the table. A folded napkin in a glass does have its drawbacks however, as tall napkins could obscure any decorations in the middle of the table such as flowers, decorative candles, or candelabras.

I emphasise that every case is different as it depends a great deal on the particular circumstances. For example, the location of the venue, the occasion of the celebration, the choice of napkin fold, the shape of the glass and above all, individual taste, style and ambiance.

May I suggest going to the page Every Fold Tells a Story for some ideas on matching the appropriate fold to the appropriate situation.

Don’t do napkin folding in a rush — take your time and you get there in no time.