Napkin Boat How-To


Set sail for dinner party success with a fleet of paper napkin boats!

Become a pro at paper napkin origami with just a package of brown paper napkins and some folding techniques. Make your boat even more special with a DIY sail made from tissue paper, favor labels and bamboo skewers.

Check out our Kids Thanksgiving Table Decorating Ideas to see how we set our boats afloat on a platter of blue mini gumballs! Read on for the easy step-by-step to make a paper napkin boat.


Follow the 14 steps below.

What You'll Need

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  • Brown dinner napkins
  • Purple favor labels
  • Orange mini gumballs
  • Tissue paper
  • 8" bamboo skewers
  • Scissors
  • Tape (optional)

Step 1: Cut Your Napkin to Size

First, cut your napkin to size by opening the napkin once so the crease is in the center. Take one edge of the napkin and fold it to the center crease; do the same on the other side. When you open the napkin again, you should have four sections. Cut off the bottom section. Now the fun begins!

Step 2: Fold Down the Edge

Fold the top edge of the napkin down so it is touching the bottom edge.

Step 3: Fold Down the Corners

With the open edges on the bottom, fold the top two corners toward the center to make a triangle shape.

Step 4: Fold Bottom Edges Up

Fold one of the bottom rectangular edges upwards to cover half of the triangle. Repeat on the other side.

Step 5: Fold In the Edge Corners

Fold all four corners on the rectangular edges inside. Your napkin should now look like a triangle.

Step 6: Open the Triangle

Open up the triangle so it looks like a little hat, bringing the corners together so they are touching.

Step 7: Form a Diamond

Your napkin should now be a diamond shape. Fold up the bottom corner of the diamond so it touches the top corner. Do the same on the other side so it forms a triangle "hat" shape again.

Step 8: Open the Triangle

Open up the triangle like a little hat (as you did in Step 6), so the corners are touching.

Step 9: Pinch the Corners & Pull!

Once you have your diamond shape, pinch the top corners of the diamond and slowly pull open. And…

Step 10: It's a Boat!

For extra sturdiness, tape the corners of the boat together.

Step 11: Cut Out a Sail

Now to make a sail! Cut a triangle sail from tissue paper about one-quarter the length of an 8" bamboo skewer.

Step 12: Stick on a Favor Label!

Glue the tissue paper sail to a bamboo skewer. Stick a favor label onto the sail. Snip the tip of the triangle in the center of the boat and slide the skewer in.

Step 13: Fill Your Boat

Fill your little paper boat with mini gumball passengers.

Step 14: Set Sail!

Once you've made one, it'll be a snap to create a fleet of mini Mayflowers for your Thanksgiving pilgrims. Write each child's name on the favor label stickers so each little guest has their own personal boat!