Napkin Etiquette

And this is what your napkin looks like after the meal, loosely gathered and placed to the left of your place setting.

And this is what your napkin looks like after the meal, loosely gathered and placed to the left of your place setting.

This is what your place setting looks like before you start. Napkin is under your fork. (Also, bless my mother for ensuring that I own a set of cloth napkins and placemats!)

This is what your place setting looks like before you start. Napkin is under your fork. (Also, bless my mother for ensuring that I own a set of cloth napkins and placemats!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah, I know you think you know how to use a napkin, but from my observations, there are some finer points to napkin etiquette that not everyone is aware of.

Different kinds of napkins:

  • Lunch napkins- lunch napkins are smaller than dinner napkins. You don’t fold it when putting it in your lap.
  • Dinner napkins- are the biggest napkin, and you fold it in half before putting it on your lap.
  • Cocktail napkins- are small and are mostly used to put around the bottom of your drink.

How to Use Your Napkin:

  • When eating meals, always put your napkin across your lap (I even do this when eating lunch at my desk at work…there is such a thing as taking etiquette too far!).
  • You never refold your napkin at the end of the meal, you gather it loosely and place it next to your place setting.
  • Napkin rings are used to hold a used napkin for the next meal (and they should be different…or if you are a WASP, monogrammed…so everyone knows which belongs to them), but this should only be done with immediate family. Nowadays, napkin rings are used more for additional decoration.
  • Napkins must never be tucked into the collar, except for very small children.
  • Generally at formal meals, the napkin matches the color of the tablecloth. At very fancy restaurants, the waiter will sometimes change out the white napkin for a black one if you are wearing dark clothing, to prevent lint spots (this happened to me at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans recently!)
  • If you need to leave the table during the meal, loosely gather the napkin and place it next to your plate (try to have the least dirty side facing up). It is generally recommended not to leave the napkin on your chair, as it will dirty the fabric of the chair cushion.
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