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How to Weave Holiday Place Mats and Napkin Rings

Place mats and napkin rings made with holiday-themed paper make a great table setting during the holidays. Follow these instructions on how to make them yourself.

This project started out to be bracelets. Then they got shorter and became napkin rings. And the napkin rings led to matching placemats, and when the paper of choice became shiny red and Christmas green instead of the floral prints, this turned into a decorative holiday table setting. Make a set for your own home or as a gift for someone else. I'm sure you'll know the basics. We all made these basic chains somewhere along the line in grade school. This time, instead of cigarette package paper or gum wrappers, we're using gift-wrapping paper.

Because these will receive a fair amount of wear, it is recommended that you use fairly heavy-duty gift wrap paper that usually comes in rolls measuring 30 inches wide.


1. For each napkin ring, cut 16 strips of paper that are 2" x 4-1/2". Fold each strip in half lengthwise and unfold.

2. Fold each side edge into the center fold and crease.

3. Fold entire strip in half. Crease.

4. Fold strip in half crosswise and unfold. Fold each end in to the center fold.

5. Fold entire strip in half crosswise. You will have a strip about 1/2" x 2".

6. Place a folded piece on edge and notice that on one side of the V-shaped piece, you will have two folded edges facing up. Turn it over and you will have four folded edges facing. When joining the pieces, it is easier to work with the two folded sides facing up.

7. To join the pieces, place one piece with two folded edges facing up, and insert the folded ends of a second piece into the folded sides of the first. Push the insert down to the end of the first piece, bringing the two ends together.

8. Insert a third folded piece into the second one in the same manner, beginning to form a zigzag pattern. Continue to join the pieces in this manner until you have a length of 15 strips.

9. Bring the two ends of the piece together and position them to continue the zigzag pattern with one above the other. Hold them in this position while you unfold the two end flaps of strip #16. It is now 1/2" x 2" with one crosswise fold at the middle. Still holding the two ends of the circle together, insert the ends of strip #16 through the top the first piece in the circle and on through the top of the last piece in the circle, joining the two ends. The ends of strip #16 will extend beyond any of the folded pieces.

10. Fold the top extending end back over the folded piece underneath it, and fold the bottom extending end back over the bottom of the folded piece underneath it, and slip the end into the piece above it.

11. Repeat the same steps with the underneath extending piece, folding it under and slipping the end into the piece above it.

This sounds totally confusing, but I hope it will make sense as you have the pieces in your hands. The circle should now be complete.

Woven Placemats

For the rings made to go with the placemats, I used eight strips of folded shiny red paper and eight strips of matte green paper.

I had hoped to make the mats in the same manner as the napkin rings, but because I never learned how to weave the rows together, I resorted to the old fashioned way of just weaving. However, to give added strength and body to the strips, I cut them four times wider than I desired the finished strips to be and folded them lengthwise, as I did the strips for the napkin ring. You will notice that the directions are written for the full-sized red and green mat; however the step-by-step photos are made with sized strips cut from an all-over floral pattern. I hope the differences will not confuse you.

The 12" x 18" size is not only a standard size for many placemats, but it is perfect for using the 30-inch-wide gift wrapping paper, as the horizontal strips are all 18 inches long and the vertical strips are 12 inches in length. It certainly makes cutting easier.

Materials and Tools:

wrapping paper (we used red foil and flat green)
cutting mat with grid
craft knife
bone folder


1. Cut 18 green 12" x 4" strips and 12 red foil 18" x 4" strips.

2. Cut four additional strips of red foil wrapping paper: Two are cut to 18" x 4-1/4" and two are cut to 12" x 4-1/4." Fold each of these strips as directed in the next step, keeping in mind that these strips will end up being slightly wider than 1 inch when finished. These are the strips that will edge the placemat and give it a finished look with no raw edges showing.

3. Fold each strip as follows: Fold in half lengthwise so that you have 18 green 12" x 2" strips and 12 red 18" x 2" strips. Open each strip flat and fold the long sides to the middle. Fold each strip in half again (lengthwise) so that you end up with 18 green 12" x 1" strips and 12 red 18" x 1" strips. By folding this way, you have sturdy strips with no raw edges showing.

4. Begin weaving as follows: Lay one of the 18-inch folded red 'edging' strips (from the previous step, above) along one of the top gridlines on your cutting mat. This will help keep your weaving straight. The folded edge should be on top lined up on the gridline. Glue each of the 18" x 1" red strips inside this folded edge. These strips should be glued vertically to the bottom (underneath) only of the edge strip.

5. Pick up one 12" x 1" green strip and weave it over and under the red strips. Push this first green strip all the way to the top of the red strips, just touching the bottom of the red edge strip.

6. Continue weaving all of the green strips in this manner.

7. Trim any excess edges from the sides and bottom when you are finished weaving.

8. Glue the 12-inch red 'edging' strips to each side. We found it easier to put glue on the inside bottom of the 'edging' strip, glue the woven strips to that, and then put glue on the top inside of the 'edging' strip to glue the top of the woven strips down.

9. Fold and glue the top 'edging' strip down.

10. Glue the remaining 18-inch red 'edging' strip on the bottom of the placemat.

11. You have the option of spraying your placemats with a clear sealant or brushing on a clear acrylic coating. At least two coats are recommended.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Even with the heavier weight paper, some is very inclined to crack at the corners. It is strongly recommended to make corner protectors. Cut the corners from several envelopes so that you have triangles to slip over each corner of your mats.

When you have the size and fit you want, cover each triangle with a piece of the gift wrapping paper and slip it back over the corner. It may be secured with a piece of double-stick tape.

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