Is It Polite to Use a Napkin Ring?

Luckily I happened to have a photo of some of my family napkin rings.

Luckily I happened to have a photo of some of my family napkin rings.

A napkin ring is a simple thing- some kind of shape with a hole in it that you put a napkin into. These days, people use them for decorative purposes and have matching ones all up and down the table. Of course this is completely fine.

However, in the past, napkin rings were soley for family meals and used to identify each person’s napkin (as they were reused for several meals before being washed.)

In 1922, Emily Post said in Etiquette: “Napkin rings are unknown in fashionable houses outside of the nursery. But in large families where it is impossible to manage such a wash as three clean napkins a day entail, napkin rings are probably necessary. In most moderately run houses, a napkin that is unrumpled and spotless after a meal, is put aside and used again for breakfast; but to be given a napkin that is not perfectly clean is a horrid thought. Perhaps though, the necessity for napkin rings results in the achievement of the immaculate napkin—which is quite a nice thought.”

This is why engraved silver napkin rings were a popular present- everyone’s ring had their initials, making them easily identifiable. My family is WASPY enough that I have a monogramed napkin ring of my very own even though the practice of using napkin rings was dying out by 1985 and we mostly used paper napkins anyway.

Did your family use napkin rings and/or reuse cloth napkins? Is it very common to have monogrammed napkin rings or is this another ridiculous thing that I think is normal?