Whether you are dining for a casual brunch with friends or attending a formal dinner with your boss, knowing the basic dining etiquettes goes a long way. While many dining etiquettes depend on the kind of event and setting, the basics remain the same. A good dining decorum includes a myriad of elements to be considered – from knowing how to eat certain dishes to using utensils in a proper way. But one element that often remains constant is the use of a napkin.
Do you always wonder if you are using napkins the right way in a restaurant? Is the napkin for the dining table supposed to be on the neck or on your lap? What do you do when you are finished with the meal? Check out our guide below, so the next time you are seated with a group, using a napkin does not make you nervous.
A napkin for a dining table is an important part of the table setting, yet something often overlooked or taken for granted. It leaves people confused and often they end up embarrassing themselves. The first step to learning dining etiquettes is learning how to use a napkin.
Using the napkin in the right way is important. A napkin for dining table comes in handy for patting your mouth, handling spills and wiping your hands.
Choosing the right napkins
Whether it’s a formal dinner you are hosting or you have friends gathered for drinks, you should always choose cloth napkins. Napkins made of cotton are long-lasting and easy to clean. You can even switch from boring white napkins to something like these natural fringe cotton napkins from Ellementry.
Using Your Napkin at a Restaurant
- Pick up the napkin as soon as you sit
Once you are seated at the restaurant, remove the napkin from its place. Unfold the napkin and place it on your lap. The napkin should remain on your lap until you need to use it.
- Unfolding the napkin
It is important to know how to unfold the napkin. But how difficult can it be? Well, for starters, it is no rocket science but certainly, you need to master the skill. While unfolding the napkin, you should take time to unfold it rather than snapping it open. Avoid shaking the napkin and try to place it on your lap without drawing much attention. If you are using a large napkin, unfold it only to half while smaller napkins are completely unfolded so as to cover your lap completely.
Some restaurants offer the waiting staff to do that for you, but it is perfectly okay to do it yourself.
- Using napkin rings
If the napkin is wrapped in a napkin ring, simply remove your napkin and place the ring on the top left corner of your table set up. After the meal is over, pick the napkin from the centre, pass it through the ring and keep it on the table with the pointed side facing the centre of the table.
- Keeping the napkin on your lap
Your napkin should stay on your lap till you need to use it or the meal ends. It is important that you use the napkin only to wipe your face or hands and not use the same as a handkerchief. During no point should you use a napkin to blow your nose? If you need to do so, excuse yourself and use a restroom.
- Do not tuck the napkin on your collar
Bibs are meant for toddlers and not adults. Do not wear the napkin as a cravat.
- Learn how to wipe your mouth
You will need to wipe your mouth during the meal at some point. When you need to do so, simply dab your mouth gently and let the napkin soak the residue from your face. It is also important to use the napkin when sipping wipe or any other drink so that any residue from a greasy mouth does not stain the glass.
- Getting up from the meal
keep the napkin on your side in case you need to get up from the dining table. While excusing yourself, use one hand to pick up the napkin and fold it loosely, placing it on the side of your plate. You don’t have to completely refold the napkin, but try to crumple it. The napkin should never be kept on the chair or dropped on the floor.
- Use your napkin to signal that you are finished with the meal
When you are done with all the courses, keep the napkin partially folded on the left side of the cover. This is a sign to the waiting staff that your meal is over and they can remove the dishes.
Using a napkin for dinner table at a private formal party
More often than not, during a dinner party, your prime motive is to avoid drawing too much attention to yourself. The best etiquette to follow is to follow the host or the hostess. Here are some simple guidelines:
- Let the host take lead
A meal at a formal party officially begins when the host or hostess unfold their napkin. This signals the guests to follow and unfold their napkins and place it on their lap.
- The napkin remains on the lap
Just like in a restaurant, the napkin remains on the lap until you need to use it, the meal ends or you need to excuse yourself.
- Keep a close watch on the host or hostess
Just like the beginning of the meal, a host or hostess also signal the end of the meal by placing the napkin back on their table. Once they signal the end of the meal, you should end your meal too and keep your napkin neatly back on the table on the left side of your dinner plate.
Things to avoid doing with a napkin
Just the way it is important to know how to use a napkin for dinner table, it is also vital that you know what not to do with it:
- Do not use the napkin as a prop to explain something in a discussion
- Do not tuck your napkin in your collar. For eating messy food, you may ask for an additional napkin made for this purpose.
- Never blow your nose in the napkin.
- Never toss your napkin on the plate that has food on it.
To sum it up
Whether you are at a fine dining restaurant or eating a friend’s house, it is always a good idea to be neat as courteous when you eat. Using a napkin for dinner table is a basic dining etiquette. Always remember, the key to using the napkin in the right way is to use to without gathering too much attention from people around you. Visit Ellementry to buy some of the best napkins for your dining table