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.


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.


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!


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

Susan L

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


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

Bridget from Refined Vintage

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!


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.


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.


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


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.


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.