Make This: DIY Watercolor Napkins for a Summer Dinner Party or Backyard BBQ


I don’t know about you, but I am definitely giving summer a big, fat hug this year to celebrate the most laid-back and color-filled season of seasons.

There will be plenty of tasty popsicle treats, geo drink stirrers, and watermelon donuts for me this year. I’m going all in. And to keep the ball rolling on DIY summer entertaining ideas, I am working with CreativeLive on a little summer series.

I’ll be sharing four colorful DIYs for summer: two on CreativeLive and two here. And it all kicks off today!


So, you can make a set of colorful watercolor napkins here and then pop over to CreativeLive here to learn how to make those cute, edible place cards you see in the photos, for summer parties.

Paint a set of wooden picnic utensils or buy some awesome handmade ones, like mine from Mr and Mrs P, and just like that, you have your place settings covered for a summer get-together with friends.


Here’s how to create a custom set of watercolor napkins in under an hour (including drying time).


set of napkins (I used this metallic set from West Elm – they’re on sale) // paint brush // paper cup // fabric paint (or acrylic paint and textile medium) // bowl of water // iron (optional)

How To Make Colorful Watercolor Napkins

How To:

1. Unfold and soak each napkin in a bowl of water and wring out excess water. You want the napkins to be damp but not soaking wet.

2. Lay each napkin out flat (and completely unfolded).

3. Add a little bit of water to a paper cup (just enough to cover the bottom of the cup) and mix in your fabric paint. This waters down the paint to give you more of a watercolor effect. Since your napkins are already damp though, you don’t want to add too much water and over dilute the paint.

4. Begin painting each napkin in your desired design. I’d recommend keeping any design ideas kind of loose for this project though, just to keep things gestural and unfussy.

5. Once a design has been painted on each napkin, take them outside to dry naturally in the sun. On a sunny day, this will help speed up the drying times considerably and is a good excuse to step outside for a few minutes and enjoy the weather.

6. Once dry, iron out any wrinkles and fold. Done!





Concept, photography, and styling by Brittni Mehlhoff

How do you celebrate summer? Any tips, tricks, or DIY ideas you want to share? Let me know in the comments below. And be sure to visit CreativeLive for the corresponding DIY tutorial for today’s post: how to make edible place card kabobs.

36 comments | Click here to reply

Does anyone have suggestions when doing the napkins for the paint and colors to buy? I’m finding only puffy paint for fabric paint and bright colors for acrylic. Thank you!


Thanks Amy. As long as you are using fabric / textile paint or textile medium, then they should hold up well in the washer, with no problems.


Gorgeous! How does the color hold up when washed??


What a fun idea! I love the watercolor look and it gives everything a little bohemian dreaminess.


Thanks Kevin! They kind of do look like sunsets. Good call!


These are gorgeous, they look like little sunsets!

Kevin | Thou Swell

Thanks Rachel. Loved your Inkodye DIY from the other day!


Absolutely beautiful Brittni! And those fruit skewers are seriously cute.

Rachel | The Crafted Life

Aw, thanks so much Emma. I really appreciate that.


These napkins look absolutely beautiful! I’ll have to bookmark this for summer garden parties in the near future. Such a gorgeous and simple idea, the photography is on point as always!

Emma x | Reverie Lane


Thanks Lina and Barb!


Adorable ideas


These are super simple yet super cute! Love them x

L&L from sisterblend


Thanks Kelly. I’ve been going the more playful route with summer projects so far and really enjoying it. I had a lot of fun with these.


These colors! Amazing! Can I register for a set of those napkins!? 😉 I love the fruit kabobs too, popping over to check those out now!

Kelly @ Studio DIY

Aw, thanks Harmony. I love the little fruit kabobs too. I’ve been wanting to make them for months, but thought I should wait until summer actually hit before breaking out the kabobs. Haha.


The napkins are beautiful but I’m obsessed with the fruit kebobs!


Thanks Carol.


Love this, really cute! 😊

Carol Azeredo

[…] edible name plates, be sure to check out the second summer tutorial in this series on my blog, for DIY watercolor napkins. Here’s how to make fruit kabob place cards in […]

Summer DIY: Easy Fruit Kabob Place Cards
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