I personally believe everyone should know three origami folds: A paper crane, a paper money ring, and at least one fancy way to fold a dinner napkin. The best site to teach you how to fold a napkin is Animated Napkins.
This site (by the creator of Animated Knots) shows you how to fold dinner napkins into shapes that you can sit at a place setting. If you’re ever throwing a dinner party, this is an easy way to impress people.
Here are a couple of easy folds, and a couple that take more time to get right.
- Pyramid: The design seen above, which only takes three folds and a stand-up. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easier than folding a shirt.
- Rosebud: A classic fold that tells your guests, “I know that red wine should be very slightly chilled.” I was surprised how easy it is to fold, given how fancy it looks when it’s done.
- Diagonal Pockets: Lay this design flat on the table and tuck silverware into the pockets.
- Bird of Paradise: Turn your napkins into the Sydney Opera House. This design takes more work and a little finesse. If you already know a little origami, you should learn this one.
Each folding guide gives step-by-step written instructions along with pictures, plus notes on the difficulties and “tricks” to each fold. (If you’ve ever struggled through a wordless origami guide, you know the value of these extra tips.)
The designs are categorised by how much you have to fold the napkin in half before starting — inconvenient if you’re just trying to find a pretty design, but convenient if you’re in the catering business and need to gussy up 80 napkins that were all stored in quarter-folds.