I waitressed in a fancy silver service restaurant on weekends for a couple of years while I was at school. One of the skills I picked up and still use today is folding napkins. It's a very simple way to dress up a table for dinner and impress your guests.
There are lots of different ways to fold napkins. Here's a simple technique to fold an fan napkin which looks great but is easy to do.
Time: 5 minutes (less than a minute with practice)
Materials Cloth or paper napkins
If you're using cloth napkins, make sure they are well ironed first.
Lay your napkin face down and then fold in half to create a long rectangle with the pattern side facing out.
Fold the top half of the rectangle in a concertina fashion. Each fold should be about the width of your finger and press hard to ensure it holds it shape.
Fold in half, concertina the top half and then flip over
Turn the napkin over so that the concertina is face down.
Fold in half, both the concertina part and the flat section.
Fold over and press firmly
Take the flat part of the napkin and quarter fold over, creating a diagonal fold. This will create a support at the back of the fan.
Fold over the supporting back
With the same piece of napkin at the back, fold underneath to create a supporting base. If you want a really tidy look then you can fold this piece into a triangle.
This final fold provides a support base at the back of the fan
View from the back of the napkin
Place the napkin with the fan facing the guest.
Repeat for each place setting and now all you need is to make a great dinner to impress your guests. If you're looking for inspiration, try RecipeYum.