The Sneaky Hosting Decor Hack I Do Every Thanksgiving That’s Totally Free

published Nov 16, 2023
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place setting with leather DIY napkin ring
Credit: Caroline Mullen

I’ve had three different couches in two years, and while some of that is owed to my job as a home writer and product tester, it’s also because I’m very particular about the quality of furniture I bring home. This process has left me with an excess of upholstery samples, though, and as someone who loves a good craft (and high-quality supplies), I’ve had them squirreled away in the cabinet for over a year now, waiting for inspiration to strike. And, naturally, it did!

Credit: Caroline Mullen

Like many great projects I’ve done in the past, the inspiration came from Pinterest. I toyed with the idea of stitching the samples into little card holders, laying them out and framing them, and even making  a few keychains out of them, but my favorite use so far is as napkin holders. I came across a few napkin holder crafts in my saved pins and realized that the leather couch samples would be the perfect size to hold cloth napkins together on the dinner table. I had a leather punch and some rivets left over from a previous project, so I was actually able to do this DIY totally for free. 

(Even if you’re not like me with a leather punch and bag of rivets on hand, you can just as easily use a sharp-tipped pair of scissors to poke holes through the leather, and a set of 160 stainless steel rivets is less than $5 on Amazon. Plus, leather is often expensive to purchase in small quantities at craft stores or online, so free samples means a significant project cost is offset.)

How and Where to Source Leather Fabric Samples

Just about every furniture company offers free (or very inexpensive) swatches of fabric to prospective customers. The samples are available to aid in decision-making on more custom pieces of furniture that are often non-refundable, so feeling and comparing samples is always highly encouraged by interior designers and brands alike. The tradeoff here is that you’ll need to enter your email and address, so you might receive marketing materials from the brand in the future (which you can always unsubscribe from). 

Some companies I’ve found that offer up to 15 free leather samples are as follows: West Elm, Pottery Barn, Interior Define, Benchmade Modern, Burrow, Crate & Barrel, Article, Arhaus, and Castlery. Of course, you can also run by your local craft store for leather swatches, and make sure to stop by the sale and scrap sections.  

What You’ll Need

How to Create Your Own Leather Napkin Holders: 

Credit: Caroline Mullen

1. Start by cutting your piece of leather to the desired length and width. I found that a 1.5-by 4-to-5-inch piece of leather was the perfect size to wrap around a standard cotton blend napkin. If your sample isn’t this long widthwise, try cutting it on the diagonal. 

2. Roll the piece of leather into a circle and overlap the edges slightly, by about half an inch. 

Credit: Caroline Mullen

3. Punch a hole through the overlapped ends with the leather punch, being sure to apply enough pressure to make it through the two layers. If you don’t have a leather punch, carefully poke through the leather with sharp-tipped scissors until there’s a hole big enough for a rivet to slip into. 

Credit: Caroline Mullen

4. Insert and snap on a rivet to one side of the napkin ring.

Credit: Caroline Mullen

5. On the other side, snip a small opening from the punched hole to allow the rivet to fit through snugly, like a button on a pair of pants or a cardigan. 

Credit: Caroline Mullen

6. Roll up your napkins and button on your new napkin rings!