plate with yellow flower

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Today I will share everything I know about how to use paper napkins for decoupage. It’s TONS of fun and before you know it you’ll be finding napkins EVERYWHERE to use in your art projects!

One of the things I always tell people to save for me are their extra paper napkins for decoupage and my mixed media collage projects. They look at me like I am crazy! You want napkins? YES! YES! YES!

That stack of napkins you see at a party could just be your next favorite art supply!

Happy Birthday Napkins
Photo By Dan Prado

I have looked at sites like Etsy – and oh man are they expensive there – like 91 cents t0 $2 a napkin! One napkin. Uno. Not a pack of napkins…just one single napkin. Yikes!

Being the thrifty reuse crafty person I am…I hate buying napkins at the store if I can avoid it. I mean, sure you can get a whole pack of various decorative ones at the dollar store or the local retail stores…they have some very cute ones.

But finding a treasure trove of them at an estate sale … now that’s FUN!

People buy packs of napkins for various events, save them for years, never use them…you can get some really neat things that way!

If you have people in your family that save that sorta thing for eons, be sure to ask them too! Because otherwise they’ll end up in a landfill somewhere, and that’d be sad and not so much fun.

I have also found a few at our local thrift store from time to time. The packages are a little dusty and I mean…oh man I would NOT use them for eating with…but for craft supplies and craft projects…they are absolutely perfect for that type of thing!

purple flowers in gray steel bucket
Be on the look out for pretty paper napkins everywhere!

Here are some of the kinds of designs I like to look for in paper napkins for art and crafts projects:

  • Flowers
  • Birds
  • Vines
  • Wine
  • Sayings & Phrases
  • Valentine’s {I love hearts!}
  • Other Holidays

If you are new to decoupage completely, you might want to check out my post on how to decoupage – I cover all the basics and supplies I use in great detail!

How to Use Paper napkins to Decoupage:

1. Take apart the layers:

Most napkins are 1-2 ply {sometimes even triple ply!} – and so for the best result you are going to want to peel these layers apart. If there’s a specific part of the napkin you want to use {ie: a picture of a bird or flower – be sure to cut it out with scissors – tearing by hand never goes well!}

2. Embrace the Wrinkles:

It is really hard to get paper napkins attached to anything without it wrinkling. If you can do it – that’s awesome….you can try using a brayer if you like. {A brayer is one of those rolly things that you can use to push down and roll stuff out flat with – available in most craft stores} But…if you are like me…impatient and an imperfectionist….you will definitely want to learn to embrace the wrinkles!

3. Lightly wet with a paint brush with water:

Before you start gluing take a little bit of water to get the napkin a little more flexible and this will also avoid tearing and ripping. Just brush on a few drops of water. Then apply the glue. Perfect. Works much better than trying to add glue straight to the napkin.


Once you are done decoupaging paper napkins, it’s absolutely imperative that you seal it with an acrylic based sealer. I love Krylon – Mod Podge also makes a sealer. This will ensure the napkin does not yellow or fade or rip/tear.

So, now that you have some paper napkin decoupage tips, I hope you’ll start looking for them in your thrift shopping, flea market, estate sales, yard sales, and more adventures! So many beautiful things can be made with them!

Have any favorite sources for napkins? Any tips for working with them for decoupage projects? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!!!


  1. I’m new to decoupage and have seen some beautiful decoupage furniture there…………but for sale, not “how to”. I’m into the black and white check stuff………..and I don’t paint. What I see is some of the most beautiful “straight” lines of black and white checks………in rows……..all uniform. My freehand won’t do that……………..and look like that. What could I use and how to obtain the same effect? Do you know maybe?

    1. Try using a stencil…either a store bought one or hand made using a sheet of acetate. A checker board stencil would be very easy to make using a ruler and an exacto knife. Americana and also TCW makes 12″ x 12″ size, so I’d suggest looking into those brands. Hope this helps!

    2. My Dollar tree has them, got some gorgeous stained glass rainbow ones yesterday, christmas tree shop also has tons usualy for about a dollar, I’ve found some at goodwill, or try front porch forum to make a request, also craigs list and Best of luck!

  2. I dont understand #3…wet the brush or wet the napkin?
    Are u assuming I put glue under the napkin or over it ?
    Is there a video link?

    1. You would put glue over the napkin, but you can also put it underneath. No video yet but maybe I will make one soon!

  3. I thought they were for decoupage only. You mean I can use any old napkin for dinner or cocktails ?????

    1. Hi Connie, some napkins are a little more fragile than others, but yes, you can definitely use any old napkin! They turn out beautifully, though some may have a different texture.

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