How to use the napkin correctly and what not to do with it in no case?

1. December 2019

Christmas is approaching and also a lot of Christmas parties and social events. It is the ideal time for information what to do with the napkin at the table. I wouldn´t like to take your time and delights, so I have prepared a simple and brief guide on the napkin in society. I believe if you become familiar with the following lines you will avoid any “napkin” faux pas.

  • Fabric napkin was used by the ancient Romans.
  • It has two functions: It protects our clothes and it serves to clean our mouth.
  • It is made out of cotton, linen or damask.
  • The most common sizes are 40 x 40 or 50 x 50 centimetres.
  • There are 4 sizes: the biggest one is for dinner, then there is a lunch one, a tea one and the smallest is a cocktail one.
  • You find the napkin on the left of your plate or in the middle of the plate (eventually where the plate will be placed later).
  • Wait until your host takes the napkin from the table, only then take yours.
  • In some restaurants the waiter will unfold and place the napkin on your lap.
  • If he doesn´t do so, place it yourself.
  • Unfold it only after you place it on your lap. If it is big, you can leave it folded lengthwise, with the fold facing to your trunk.
  • You don´t put paper napkin on your lap. It is not suitable for formal dining.
  • Use it whenever you feel your mouth needs it or before you want to drink. You will avoid unsightly imprints on the glass.
  • Don´t wipe your mouth drawing the napkin, but with gentle tapping.
  • Don´t tie it around your neck or behind your shirt collar, if you are not a child younger than 8 years.
  • If you need to leave the table during the meal, put the napkin on your seat. Push the chair under the table and when you are back, put it back on your lap – that´s what the British say. Americans advise, as a matter of principle, not put it on the chair, always on the left or even on the right side of the plate.
  • In more luxurious restaurants the waiter will place a fresh napkin on the left of your plate or on the back of your chair, while you are absent. You will put it back on your lap when you come back
  • When your host finishes dining and puts the napkin back on the table, follow him. Take it by its centre and unfold it to the left of your plate. Leave the dirty spots hidden.
  • Put only the paper napkin on the plate, don´t fold it, put it there scrunched up.
  • Don´t use the napkin to blow your nose, cutlery cleaning or wiping your face.
  • If you need to sneeze and don´t have a handkerchief, it is allowed to use the napkin.
  • Don´t let it drop on the floor.
  • Do you know that in old days the napkins were more than four metres long, they were hung on the wall and used collectively?