Bishop’s Hat, Bird of Paradise, Candlestick, Fleur de Lis,  Fan are all ways to fold a napkin for your meal functions.  20 years ago who knew there were so many ways to fold a napkin!  I certainly didn’t.  My mom taught me that napkins were folded in half, placed on the left side of the plate with the fork on top.  Little did I know, now it’s an art!  And if you’re a conference or event planner, you need to become familiar with as many folds as possible so that your table settings are forever changing and you always have a fresh approach.

Many years ago when I was first starting out, I was working with a client where the skill of napkin folding came in quite handy.  We were on-site for a 4 day program for a rather large association meeting and the Executive Director kept assuring me and the Convention Services Manager that less than half of the 1000 attendees would stay for the Sunday breakfast and we should only plan for about 300.  Well you guessed it, almost 600 women decided to remain for the Sunday program.  Meanwhile the CSM had reduced his staff considerably based on the 300 number.  At 7:00am when we realized how many people were about to descend upon us in the next 2 hours, it became all hands on deck to roll in new tables and chairs and get everything set.  This is where I learned that simply folding a napkin in half was unacceptable for this hotel chain whose staff made us re-fold every napkin to meet their standards.  Rather than being upset, we laughed through it all because I was impressed by their effort to portray their hotel in the best light and I, along with several of our staff, learned how to fold napkins.

The second challenge was figuring out how to feed the additional 300 people when the chef had only planned for half the number and it was Sunday with no special deliveries about to happen.  By working together with the chef and the CSM, we changed the meal into a “Create your own Continental Breakfast”.  We raided the kitchen, placed a lazy susan on all of the tables and created the most attractive selection of breakfast options.  The feedback from the attendees was positive because they got to choose what they wanted and no food was wasted.

The learning takeaways:

  • Always make your CSM a partner in your program as they can make miracles happen
  • Never be afraid to learn a new skill – you never know when it will come in handy

“I Can Laugh About It Now”……….Until next time