Napkins are a very big topic of conversation in our home. The Beau rarely uses one, I seem to need more than one, and Baby Mae is very proud of her proper use of napkins. She likes to remind us that they are an important element when setting the table. She’s a bit obsessed really.
Wondering how we get her to use her napkin? Watching us as an example, routinely setting the table with napkins and my favorite–the children’s book, The Peas Say Please. It’s one of her favorites and such a great way to introduce children to proper table manners.
I think we can all use an ongoing refresher on napkins. It’s so simple and something that is often overlooked. Unless eating barbecue or some other incredibly messy meal, many people assume it’s unnecessary. That is not the case and should be used with every meal! Now, that being said, let’s go over some napkin basics and reminders.
1. Place your napkin in your lap.
Wait until your host or hostess has taken their seat. Once the hostess has unfolded her napkin and placed it in her lap, you may do the same with your napkin. Small napkins should be unfolded in your lap, where larger napkins can stay folded in half.
2. Blot, don’t wipe.
Keep your napkin in your lap throughout the entire meal. Do blot your mouth with your napkin, as needed. Do not wipe your mouth as you would a washcloth after washing your face.
3. Keep your napkin in your seat.
There are two schools of thought behind the question, “Where does your napkin go if you need to leave the table?” I am from the Emily Post school of thought, so if you need to use the restroom or leave your seat for any reason, keep your napkin in your seat.
Many argue the napkin should be placed to the left of your plate, with any food soiling hidden. I still find this offensive, even if the napkin appears clean next to your plate. The napkin should never reappear on the table except at the end of the meal.
In a formal restaurant the waiter will often replace your napkin with a fresh one, upon leaving the table.
4. Fold if finished
When you are finished with your meal, before leaving the table, neatly fold your napkin and place is to the right of your plate. Do not leave your napkin on your chair.
5. Never shake or tuck
Do not shake your napkin to remove crumbs! If you drop your napkin while at a restaurant, signal to the waiter to bring you another. This will generally happen in a more formal restaurant. I suspect the wait staff will not know this rule in a slightly more casual setting. And the biggest tip of all–never ever, ever tuck your napkin into your clothes!