When I was a kid and my mom would entertain, it was my job to set the table. I think it's one reason why I love table decor as much as I do.
And it all started with this little book:
At one point, I stumbled upon my mom's copy of "Fancy Folds." I sat there and practiced each and every fold. So when my mom would have parties, I would offer to fold the napkins. From folding the napkins, it turned into setting the table and now...well, let's just say that I had a passion for place settings and table decor at an unusally young age. I would sit at the kitchen table flipping through the Ross-Simons catalog telling my mom as she cooked dinner, which place settings were being discontinued, which ones had increased in price, which patterns were new...and while I no longer flip through the Ross-Simons catalog, I still fold a napkin here and there.
When I got my first apartment, my mom's copy of "Fancy Folds" came with me. As you can see, it's well loved and used to the point where the pages are falling out. I've practically memorized the book, but I'll never give it up. It's how my hostessing all began.
I showed Mr. Stranded how to make the Mexican Fans for our Cinco de Mayo party. He was a pro, making the most beautifully full fans I had ever seen. It's quite easy to do. Just follow the instructions below. A couple of tips: 1. Use starched napkins; 2. Fold stripped napkins so that the stripes are horizontal. It will make the fan look fuller.
If you want your own copy of Fancy Folds, it's been reprinted under a new title: The Simple Art of Napkin Folding.
How to Fold a Mexican Fan Napkin
Start out using a starched napkin, seams facing you.
Fold the napkin in half to make a rectangle, flaps facing you.
Fold the napkin into 1-inch accoridan pleats, leaving the last 4 inches unfolded.
Flip the napkin over so that the pleats are facing the table.
Fold in half, bringing top half down to bottom half.
Fold up the bottom left corner and tuck it well into the pleats.
Stand napkin up. The pleats should form a fan.