From birthdays and baby showers to office potlucks, big promotions, and retirements custom napkin designs are all the rage. They add a unique, personal feel and a touch of whimsy—whether they’re specific to a holiday or if you use them to personalize office parties with your company logo.
While it’s simple enough to pay for custom napkins, there are several reasons you may want to consider creating DIY versions instead. For starters, it allows you to brainstorm your own one-of-a-kind design and ensure that it prints to your liking. Additionally, going the DIY route is often less expensive than purchasing custom-designed napkins.
Whether you want to create custom napkins for your next party or design a set of napkins as a gift, here’s the DIY way to make it happen.
How to make custom napkins
Ready to craft your own designed napkins? Get started with the following steps.
First, create your design
In order to transfer a design onto napkins, you’ll need a digital version of your preferred design. You can create this on your own or source one online (just make sure you check the rules for licensing). If you want to create your design with pen and paper, you’ll need to scan it and save a digital version. If you create the design on your computer or source it online, simply save the file on your computer.
Next, gather your materials
You’ll need the following supplies to print your napkins at home:
- Paper napkins (choose heavy-duty, multi-ply napkins, which will hold ink better)
- Freezer paper
- Your digital design
- An iron
- An inkjet printer, preferably with high-quality ink (Do not to use a laser jet printer, since they can get very hot and may create a fire hazard if using paper napkins. We recommend HP Original Ink because it is smear- and water-resistant and provides high-quality )
Cut the freezer paper
Grab your freezer paper and cut it to a size that:
- Is large enough to cover one unfolded napkin
- Is small enough to travel through your printer
Because printers and napkins come in different sizes, there is no “one size fits all” measurement here. Instead, measure your printer tray and an unfolded napkin to determine the proper size for your freezer paper.
Note: Some sources recommend printing the design onto transfer paper, then ironing the transfer paper onto the napkins. If you feel unenthused about the freezer paper technique, it may be worth giving this alternate strategy a try. In this case, you’ll skip over the next several steps.
Iron a napkin onto a cut piece of freezer paper
Start by placing a napkin on top of a cut piece of freezer paper. The napkin should rest on the shinier side of the freezer paper. The side of the napkin that will feature the design should face up.
Next, preheat the iron to a medium setting. Then gently iron the napkin onto the freezer paper. (It’s a good idea to test a small patch before ironing over the entire napkin. Make sure the napkin sticks to the freezer paper and that nothing melts before completing the ironing.) It’s important that the napkin be fully adhered to the freezer paper so it doesn’t catch inside the printer during the next step.
Print your design
Once you successfully iron a napkin onto a piece of freezer paper, place the resulting combo into your printer. Line it up just like regular printer paper, making sure the napkin is properly oriented. (You may want to run a few test sheets of printer paper through the printer to determine how to orient the napkin according to your printer.) Once you line up the napkin, print the design using the file you saved on your computer in the first step.
Remove the napkin from the freezer paper
Once the design has printed onto the napkin, allow the napkin and freezer paper to cool down a bit. Then, gently peel the napkin off the freezer paper, being careful not to tear the napkin. Once you remove the freezer paper, your napkin is ready to use. Printing your own custom napkins may require some time and effort. But in the end, you’ll find yourself with a stack of highly personalized napkins that will satisfy your creative urges and delight the guests at your next party.