Hold the expensive centerpieces and fine china. Add some playful touches to your tabletop with something you probably already have in the house -- colorful paper napkins. Coordinate your napkin folding to reflect the theme of your summer fete: a rose for your garden lunch; a fan for your seaside dinner. And get the kids on board to help with the folding! It's an origami project with a practical twist.
1. A rose arrangement. Martha Stewart Living has great directions for this. You can use two different color square napkins -- one for the petals and another for the base -- or make a monochromatic pop-art flower out of, say, electric blue or yellow.
For the base, fold the napkin in half along the diagonal. Then fold it in half again along the long edge. Repeat.
For the petals, fold the second square napkin along the diagonal, take the corner opposite the longest side, and fold it up so it extends over the top. Fold the bottom edge so that it falls just short of the top, and begin rolling the napkin from one end to make the bud. Slip the flower between the leaves and place it in a glass.
2. A fan fold. Obviously appropriate for a hot summer's day and very easy to make. Use a large dinner napkin for the job. Make accordion-style pleats about half an inch wide. Bend the pleats in half to make a "handle" and insert the handle into the a shallow glass. Spread the fan out so it rests dramatically above the rim.
3. A lotus blossom bowl. Set these on top of your dinner plate and fill them with snacks or battery-operated tea lights. The steps are a bit more challenging, but the result is worth it.
Do you have any favorite paper napkin folding ideas?
Image via Dinner Series/Flickr