Sure, the spiral-bound book lays on plenty of country charm with those rosebud napkin rolling techniques. But that "exploding envelope" fold really does look remarkably similar to a wedding invitation stuffed with reply cards enclosures. And Vivaldo happens to be an L.A.-based food stylist and caterer whose napkin-folding resume includes the swanky Governors Ball and numerous television production credits, so you could look at the book as a handy indirect reminder to bring an iron, not just Mortician's wax, when you show up for that food styling apprenticeship.
Fine. Maybe you really don't need 100 folds in your back pocket, but considering the lackluster subject matter, this is a remarkably fun photo-driven book. Get more on the Viking helmet possibilities after the jump.The napkin-specific spinoff from Vivaldo's Perfect Table Settings book begins with classic designs in the first "Easy Napkin Folds" chapter. How to decoratively tie napkins on baskets, roll silverware into a napkin, make diamond shapes and such. The "simplicity" pattern aims "to show off napkins with lace edges to their best advantage;" that "standard" rectangular fold is, according to Vivaldo, the "napkin fold of the typical family dinner." We're suddenly feeling June Cleaver guilt about our everyday recycled paper napkins.
The second "Intermediate Napkin Folds" chapter includes 37 (!) step-by steps for more advanced techniques like an abstract basket-shaped fold, "the Viking" that resembles a horned Viking helmet, and for those occasions when the in-laws come over to dinner, an elegant "high tower" pleated fold with a pocket for utensils.
In the final "Advanced Napkin Folds" chapter, you'll find 3-dimensional napkins shaped like an elf's boot, an orchid and an origami-like swan. Incidentally, if you're wondering when to pull out that "luna moth" design, Vivaldo includes suggestions (ideal for a garden party).
There's also an "Entertaining Diary" ledger at the end of the book. Here, you can record each "table setting theme" at a dinner party, your guests' reactions to that bikini bottom (p. 24) fold, and all of the "napkin fold(s) used" -- You are doing a different napkin design with each course, aren't you? Regardless, Vivaldo will show you how to put your best "gypsy skirts" (a diamond-shaped napkin fold with multiple layers to look like a draped skirt) on the table.