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Easy, Inexpensive DIY Napkin Rings

Updated on June 10, 2015
Making your own napkin rings is perfect for that special occasion!
Making your own napkin rings is perfect for that special occasion! | Source

Whether you are celebrating a graduation, an anniversary, a wedding, or the birth of a child, sometimes you just want to do everything up special. But buying all new things for each occasion can be trying and expensive. However, there is an easy way to add a special touch to your dining table for those special occasions which is easy, inexpensive, and can be done in an afternoon: making your own napkin rings! For just a few dollars, you can embellish your dinner with this festive craft.

How Napkin Rings Are Used

Napkin rings are used with cloth napkins at family dinners, because it's a lot of trouble to make sure everyone has a freshly laundered napkin at each meal. By making each ring distinctive, each person will be able to recognize their own napkin and reuse it for a meal or two. Some of these methods are suitable for children, and all are suitable for children at some stage. What is the most fun, though, is to have each guest make his or her own napkin ring before dinner, and then take it home as a souvenir of their visit!

There are many ways to make your own napkin rings; I've outlined just a few of them here.

Method One Supplies

Method One involves cutting already-existing pipes into rings. The nice thing about this method is that some men who wouldn't be caught dead crafting actually enjoy this, or at least the part that can involve power tools and paint!

  • Imagination
  • Food grade PVC, plastic, or metal pipe (available at the hardware store). If you're desperate, you could even use the cardboard core from a roll of paper towels, if your napkin rings are being made for one use only.
  • Sandpaper for smoothing rough edges
  • Tack cloth (for getting up sanding grit)
  • Something that will saw through your chosen material
  • Spray paint
  • Paint, glue, cardboard, markers, fabric, or whatever you wish for decorating your napkin rings. Remember that they can be three-dimensional, and that in the olden days, people had individualized napkin rings, because napkins were reused from meal to meal.

Method One Instructions

  1. Cut your pipe crosswise into pieces approximately one to two inches long. Use the first as a guide for the others.
  2. Sand any rough edges smooth, and run over the edges with tack cloth.
  3. If necessary, prepare your rings for painting by sanding or cleaning with alcohol.
  4. Move to a well-ventilated place.
  5. Paint your pieces and let them dry. Use a paint that is appropriate for your material.
  6. After the rings have dried sufficiently, it's time to start decorating. Let your imagination run wild: use hot glue to fasten on glass flower-arranging marbles; use a stencil and sponge and paint designs, names, or words; add Christmas package ornaments; decorate with ribbon; for a birth, add baby beads; for graduation, roll up bits of paper and tie with ribbon to make tiny diplomas; attach a sprig of fresh herbs; or anything else that comes to mind. There's no wrong way to do it, except that you'll want to keep most of the objects on the outside!
  7. Let your rings set for at least an hour to allow glue, if used, to dry. Wait to use until all paint or glue smells have vanished.

Femitu Alphabet Letter Beads 7mm, 200pc
Femitu Alphabet Letter Beads 7mm, 200pc

Alphabet letter beads can spell out names, messages, or just about anything you want!


Method Two

Method Two involves using elastic cord, and stringing beads of some kind onto it. Tie it off, then slip the napkin into the cord. The great thing about this method is that the napkin rings will last for a while. And children that have sufficient dexterity and know better than to put the beads into their mouths (or up their noses, or in their ears, or other unlikely places) can help. Whether you choose letter beads to make words or names, or number beads for dates, or some other kind of bead, such as wooden beads to paint, you can easily make these napkin rings individual enough so that everyone can remember which one is theirs!

Ribbon fastened with a painted wooden bead makes a lovely napkin ring for Christmas
Ribbon fastened with a painted wooden bead makes a lovely napkin ring for Christmas | Source

Method Three

Method three is just to tie something around the already-rolled napkin. At an informal dinner, such as a barbecue, think about that brown, rough kitchen twine. For outdoors, a small strip of fabric tied around a napkin is a charming addition. You can also use ribbon (plain or fancy), lace, aluminum foil, parchment paper, or whatever strikes you as appropriate. Once we cut fresh rosemary and thyme stems and used that to wrap around the napkins, and just twisted the stems onto themselves.

Method Four

One of the most popular crafting supplies is felt, and no wonder: it doesn't ravel, fastens easily, and holds up well. To make napkin rings, simply cut a strip of felt about four inches long and one or two inches wide, and fasten a hook-and-loop dot so that it will fasten into a ring. Decorate the felt however you wish: markers, gluing on decorative items, ribbons, or whatever takes your fancy. Minutes later, you'll have fabulous napkin rings!

If you want to get fancier than felt, feel free! Upholstery fabric or leather can make stunning napkin rings!

Sculpey III Oven Bake Clay Sampler 1oz, 30/pkg
Sculpey III Oven Bake Clay Sampler 1oz, 30/pkg

With dozens of colors and a low baking temperature, Sculpey III is my favorite for polymer clay projects. Bakes to a matte finish; spray on clear gloss if desired.


Method Five

This method will involve adult supervision, so be advised!

Use the cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels as a guide. Form a ring of polymer clay around the tube in your desired shape and color. Use the standard methods for decorating the clay, then remove the cardboard, and proceed with curing the clay (usually by baking it in the oven). Decorate as desired with rhinestones, ribbon, charms, glitter, or anything else that your imagination can dream up!

Which method appeals to you?

See results


Submit a Comment
  • jo miller profile image

    Jo Miller 

    2 years ago from Tennessee

    Great idea! I'll have to try this.

  • classicalgeek profile imageAUTHOR


    3 years ago

    I appreciate your concerns about sustainability. I usually end up with leftover bits of such stuff from other projects. It also says food-grade PVC, so toxins should not be an issue.

    The instructions do clearly state to sand the edges and then use tackcloth to avoid shards or rough edges. All I can do is hope people will follow instructions.

    I occasionally do this at friends' birthday parties, graduations, Christmas parties, etc., and it seems to be a big hit! Everyone wants to take home their napkin rings (I have no idea what they do with them later).

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 

    3 years ago from Central Florida

    These are great ideas. I love all but the first, as PVC and metals are not sustainable materials and can contain toxins (or possible shards) you don't want near foods or your mouth.

    I really like the idea of using toilet paper or paper towel rolls and using ribbon to wrap around the napkins.

    I do have some ceramic napkin rings that I bought years ago. I think I've used them once. DIY rings are a great idea, especially for kids' birthday parties. It would be a great craft idea to occupy them before cake is served. The idea of taking them home as souvenirs is a bonus.


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