diy project: beachy napkin rings

Learned from our grandmother — who used to collect shiny black sharks’ teeth and pristine white sand dollars on Florida beaches and Petoskey stones on the shores of Lake Michigan — we are a family of beachcombers who save up our treasures found by the sea and lake to use in craft projects all year. Here is a simple way to make your summer dinner party beautiful and give your gathering some beach flair, no matter where you are spending your summer. We used shells and sand dollars we have collected over the years, and we plan on trying a few variations using stones and small pieces of driftwood. — bbbcraft sisters

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Read the full how-to after the jump!


  • shells, rocks, beach glass (whatever you collect from beaches you visit or live near)
  • old napkin rings you no longer use or inexpensive store-bought napkin rings
  • scissors
  • fabric glue
  • cotton rope (We used a few different thicknesses, all bought at our local hardware store.)
  • twine or embroidery thread


For Braided Napkin Ring

1. Cut three pieces of 17” thick cotton rope. You can also double or triple the braid for a thicker napkin ring. In that case, cut 6 or 9 pieces of rope.

2. Using a piece of thin cord, wrap the three pieces of thick cotton rope together, about 1” from the top.

3. Braid the three pieces of rope for 6 inches.

4. Make a loop with the braided rope, and use the thin cord to tightly wrap all pieces of the cotton rope together. It is important to tightly wrap them together with the thin cord 1/4” to 1/2” in width so that you can cut the ends of the thick cotton rope short. Tie a tight knot on the underside of the loop. Cut remaining lengths of thin cord.

5. Cut the thick cotton rope very short.

6. Apply some fabric glue on the flat, wrapped portion of the braided napkin ring, and glue your shell or beach find onto the napkin ring.

For Wrapped Napkin Ring

1. Pull a few feet of cotton rope off the spool, but do not cut it. It’s easier to use a thinner rope for this.

2. Begin wrapping the rope or twine very tightly around the napkin ring. Continue until the entire ring is covered. If you run out, cut a long length from the other end and finish from the other side.

3. Cut the twine and make a small knot on the inside of the napkin ring.

4. Glue your shell or rock on the top of the rope.

  1. ML says:

    These look beautiful for a summer table! Am looking forward to making these for a friend’s gift this weekend. Although, I have used sand dollars in projects before and believe they are much too fragile for these napkin rings. The break very easily. Plan to use small oyster shells! Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Nice craft, i feel like trying this, with your instructions am sure i can make it, thanks for sharing

  3. Lovely work! It’s an elegant detail perfect for summer dinner.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Elena says:

    What a fun way to decorate the table! I really enjoy nautical decor and this is just beachy enough for me; love the pictures as well–so helpful! Thanks for sharing!

  5. What a great idea!! I am pinning this for sure! The world needs to see more of this ;)

  6. SillyJaime says:

    How unique! You could really do this with any kind of theme, too. :]

  7. Lauren says:

    I love this so much!

    Thanks for sharing. These would make great gifts!

  8. Kayla says:

    Great DIY! Would be perfect for a nautical inspired wedding or summer barbecue.

  9. berton1020 says:

    Very simple Summer idea. I LOVE it!!

  10. Cute idea. Thanks for sharing

  11. Susan L says:

    One word: LOVE.

  12. Susan L says:

    @ML: maybe you could varnish the sand dollars with a matte-finish Mod Podge first? Or something else to keep them from breaking?

  13. Such a great idea! I want to host parties but my house is in such a mess! When it’s in order I want to host things that cause me to do this!

  14. Nina says:

    Adorable! You could even add in flowers to the tops. So versatile.

  15. Nicole says:

    Beautiful idea!

    Kisses from Hong Kong,

  16. Van says:

    This looks amazing! Great job!

  17. Ta says:

    Pretty. I like the braided chord a lot. and i bet they would be pretty with colored shells too

  18. This looks great!! I have the perfect napkins to go with these!!

    -Chic Done Cheap

  19. Daria says:

    Thanks! Looks beautiful!!!

  20. Ziba says:

    These are so adorable… great idea..!

  21. This looks like a very easy project, with so much potential, even pretty rocks or Petosky stones would make a great ornament for these napkin rings. I will be making these soon!Thanks!

  22. Meghan says:

    While I love this idea I’d like to point out as a marine biologist that it’s better not to collect too much at the beach, and that you should NEVER buy dried seastars (starfish) or shell collections available at craft stores. They can contain animals that are illegal to collect and the trade often devastates the area where they were collected. Just wanted to put that out there.

  23. bahar006 says:

    Hey, I love it, very beautiful:)

  24. these are too perfect & so simple! must try them out for our new england summertime dining room decor!

  25. Kasey says:

    Adorable! Love this idea!

  26. Hilary says:

    I agree with Meghan, while these are lovely to look at, it is horrible to use starfish for anything. They go hard as their defense mechanism and thus die trying to defend themselves!
    I like the idea of shells or stones though.

  27. maureen says:

    Love these. I am making my house over as a beach cottage now that I am retired and these will be perfect additions.

  28. The structured, yet curvy braid juxtaposed with the organic sand dollar is so delicately beautiful for a table setting.

  29. Cynthia says:

    So happy I found this blog. I want to make napkin rings to use
    during Thanksgiving, Christmas, , New Years Day as well as
    for two upcoming birthdays.

  30. Sacha-Dielle says:

    A ‘nature’ friendly alternative to using real specimens could be to use Fimo to model the originals. That way you’re not encouraging environmentally unsustainable behaviors while getting the same look :) The positive of using Fimo is you can make as many as you need without having to forage for the real thing.

  31. Amber says:

    I tried to make the braided napkin rings and the rope that I bought at my local craft store unraveled as soon as a I cut it. How did you prevent this?


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