A guide to napkins

Decorating the table properly is a form of art. Similar to art, there are certain rules and guides one should follow when setting the table. Napkins are not only practical, they are an essential part of table décor. This simple guide shows what napkins should be used with what meal, in what way should they be laid out and what is the general napkin etiquette.

Large napkins (50 – 68 cm square)

Large napkins are used for formal meals serving multiple courses. They should be placed in the centre of the service plate (or in the place of the dinner plate when service plate is not used). Avoid using napkin rings, simply fold the napkin.

Formal table settingpinterest.com

Medium napkins (45 – 50 cm square)

Medium size napkins are used for informal dinners. They can be placed in the centre or to the left of the forks.

Informal table settingpinterest.com

Informal table setting - napkinpinterest.com

Small napkins (30 – 40 cm square)

Small napkins are used for luncheons or tea. They should be placed in the centre, similar to a formal dinner setting. Unlike the dinner napkin, the tea or luncheon napkin may be open completely when placed on lap.

Tea place setting - napkinpinterest.com

Very small napkins (usually 13 cm square)

Very small napkins are used for cocktail receptions. They can be either paper or cloth and should be open completely. Folding them could cause a cocktail to fall over.

Cocktail napkinspinterest.com

Cocktail napkins pinterest.com

Formal meal napkins should always match the tablecloth, preferably white or off – white colours. Formal events call for simplicity, classic colours and textures are always the safest option. Very fancy foldings are not in good taste.

Informal meals give more space for creativity, especially when it comes to colours or use of napkin rings to enhance the theme of table décor.

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