Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Napkin or Serviette Etiquette


An origami, flower-folded napkin, rests in the plate for the first course of an informal, luncheon table. More formal or simple, napkin folds are recommended for more formal settings.

Modern Day Napkin Etiquette


Paper napkins can be very decorative, but they can also can be flimsy. If you choose to use, or must use paper napkins, it is okay to use more than one. 

Paper napkins are generally recommended only for the most casual of dining, or for large parties when crudités and other types of small finger foods are being served.

In a pinch, a paper towel can be used as a napkin for a small child. 

Tablecloths are no longer napkins. They were at one time in history, but that was very long ago.

Your wrists and the backs of your hands are not napkins.

Napkins are never a part of your clothing, so never use your shirt sleeve or shirt tail to wipe your mouth. 

Napkin rings are placed to the left of your fork(s), after you have first removed your napkin from a ring. 

Place your napkin in your lap when you first are seated at the table. It should be folded in half and lays across your lap with its fold closest to you and the open ends pointing away from you.

Once you are old enough, and/or able to eat on your own, napkins should never be dipped in a water glass to then wipe your face.

A napkin stays on your lap the entire time you are seated to eat.  If you have to leave the table for a moment and others are still eating, your napkin goes on your seat until your return. 

Napkins do not go back on to the table until everyone at the table is finished eating. Placing, or crumpling and tossing, your napkin upon the table while others are still enjoying their meals, is tantamount to throwing down the gauntlet and challenging the others in your party to finish their meals as rapidly as you.

Paper napkins can be crumpled and put on your plate when you are done, if the plate will be thrown away, as well.  Cloth napkins go beside your plate, to the left.  

Unless you are a member of a family with whom you are dining, do not put your napkin back into a napkin ring after dining, unless you have been advised to do so by your host or hostess. Napkins to be reused by the same family members over the course of several meals, are usually identified by the monogram or design on each family member's ring.


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia