Now, it might seem like napkin etiquette is not something you need to know about on a day-to-day basis. However, using your napkin properly is actually just basic table manners – you can no longer blame ignorance for this rudeness! All of these mini rules are actually pretty easy to follow. They are probably little things that you’ve naturally been doing anyway. In fact, dining etiquette says quite a lot about you; almost-perfect table manners will definitely make a good first impression. So it’s best to start adopting them right away!
When to move your table napkin
The first thing to remember is when to pick up your table napkin to place on your lap. The custom here is to wait for the host or the guest of honour to remove the napkin first from the table and place on their lap before you do so. Consider this action from the host / guest of honour a cue for you to do the same with your napkin.
How to place your napkin on your lap
If you have a large napkin, it isn’t necessary to completely unfold it. Leaving it folded in half is more proper. If you are faced with a small napkin however, then it is fine to unfold it totally. And, as above, place the half folded or completely unfolded napkin onto your lap. This is where it should remain for the entire meal, unless you get up to use the toilet. In which case place the napkin on your chair, stain side up.
How to use your napkin
Try to use your napkin frequently during the meal, to blot or pat your lips, not to wipe them. Also, try to blot your lips before you take a drink of your beverage. This way you avoid getting bits of food on your glass.
It is never appropriate for you to tuck your napkin into your collar. Nor is it okay to flap your napkin wildly around- even if you’re trying to illustrate a point!
If a napkin ring is present, then remember, once you have removed the napkin, place the napkin ring at the top left of your table setting. At the end of your meal, grasp your napkin in the centre, pull it through the napkin ring, making sure to place it to the left of your table setting, with the point of your napkin facing the centre of the table.
We’ve already mentioned where to put your napkin when you’ve finished your meal if you have a napkin ring. However, if you don’t have a napkin ring, place your napkin neatly on the table to the left of your dinner plate; ideally with no stained areas showing. If your table setting is clear in front of you then you can place your napkin in the middle of your place setting, again, ensuring that any stained areas aren’t showing. Don’t wad your table napkin together, fold it up, or place it on your plate.
There we have it, perfect napkin etiquette!