With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it’s about time to shift cooking and decor preparations into high gear. A few weeks ago, I shared a super simple centerpiece idea, and today I want to show you a fun Turkey napkin project! This is a really fun way to display napkins on your Thanksgiving table and an easy project to keep little hands busy and out of the kitchen while you work. With just some colored paper, scissors, and craft adhesive, you can turn your cloth napkins into adorable and festive turkeys for all your guests! Let me show you how!
NOTE: This is a project I first created in 2015 for a site called My Daily Bubble. The site has since shut down, and I’ve been given permission to re-post these projects, in their entirety, here on The Homes I Have Made.
The feathers of these turkey napkins are created by an easy napkin fold, while the bodies are crafted out of a variety of paper shapes. They come together to create an adorable turkey friend that will surely make your Thanksgiving guests smile!
You can choose to make your turkeys plain or give them different head coverings to turn them into cute little Native Americans and Pilgrims. Different colors, sizes and shapes make these little guys endlessly customizable!
One of the greatest things about this project is you don’t need a fancy cutting machine to get the job done! I grabbed a bunch of my craft punches to make things a bit quicker and more consistent, but everything is doable with a simple scissors! Here is what else you need:
- Craft Adhesive
- Colored cardstock in a variety of fall tones
- An array of punches (optional) – hole punch | square | petals (similar)
NOTE: You don’t need these exact punches to complete the project as shown. The trick is looking at the punches you DO have and figuring out creative ways to use them or tweak them into the shapes you need!
The Turkey Body
First, let’s make the turkey body. You will need: a brown body | two black eyes | a yellow beak | a red snood.
To make the turkey bodies, free-hand a bowling pin-like shape onto heavy paper. Cut it out and use it as a template to make as many brown turkey bodies as you need!
To make the beak, use a punch to make yellow squares. Then trim the squares in half to make triangles.
For the eyes, a basic hole punch works perfectly. Finally, you can easily free-cut a snood, but I found a punched leaf turned up-side-down was the perfect shape! Again, get creative with the tools you have and free-hand what you don’t!
With all the turkey elements cut out, glue them together as shown below.
Pilgrim & Native American Turkeys
You can leave your turkeys plain or give them different accessories. Here are the elements you need to make a Native American headdress and a Pilgrim hat.
For the Native American headdresses, a tab punch works perfect for the headband. You can also freehand cut skinny rectangles.
The leaf punch (similar) again comes in handy to make an array of colorful feathers.
Simply glue the tab and feathers to the top of each turkey’s head!
For the pilgrims, the same tab punch combined with a black square form the tall hat.
Small white squares trimmed from white cardstock create the buckles.
Just like with the Native American headdresses, secure the hat pieces to the turkey heads with more adhesive. Be sure to color in small black squares onto the white squares with a marker to create the illusion of a buckle!
With all the turkeys made, you need to add some simple paper stands to allow them to stand up right. Trim sturdy cardstock into 1.5×5” strips, then fold up a 1/2″ on one side.
Secure the turkeys to the folded tab with more adhesive. Once glued together, the turkeys will stand on their own!
Folding & Assembling the Turkey Napkins
The turkeys really come to life when you add a cloth napkin as their feathers! Folding the napkins is quick and simple, although using an iron helps create a bit more definition in the creases!
Start with your cloth napkin completely unfolded flat, with the longer edge (if there is one) facing you. Then fold (and iron) the napkin back and forth like an accordion. You want your folds to be about 2” deep, and you want to make at least four folds in each direction.
Next, fold the entire napkin in half horizontally.
Then, gently pull the top fold back onto itself to create a fan shape.
Slide the paper base of your turkey under the center of the folded napkin…
…and place them on your Thanksgiving table!
You can even use pretty markers to write the names of all your guests on the turkeys’ bellies so they double as place cards too!
This is a fun and simple Thanksgiving craft project the whole family can do together, or you can let the kids get creative while you’re busy on the gravy and mashed potatoes! Thanks to some basic punches, these come together in a flash. But even if you don’t have a lot of fancy tools, you can still get creative by using fun and silly shapes to give the turkeys the right personalities for your table!
P.S. If you’re looking for a few last-minute projects for your Thanksgiving celebration, be sure to check out these other festive posts!