Napkin Folding (and Unfolding)

To begin this segment, I want to elaborate on a point I made in the previous napkin post. I said that as soon as you sit down, you should place your napkin in your lap. This is because everyone should sit down at the same time. On the occasion the host has not sat down at the same time you have, it’s best to wait until they have sat down. They lead the dinner. But I digress.

When you sit down to dinner, your napkin may look like a crown foldrectangle or a swan. If you’re hosting, get as “flourishy” as you want. I’ve even attached a link at the bottom of the post for a good napkin-folding website, which has a fold I attempted for the first time tonight, the crown fold. How royal.

A couple of things to keep in mind. The most formal (think: dinners we’ll likely never attend, unless you plan to meet the queen) would never have the napkin on the table; it is placed on the plate or charger. Fun fact: these formalest of formal (yes, I know it’s not a real word) dinners also do not have bread plates. The bread is placed on the tablecloth or runner to the left of the plate. Yum…the practical reason behind placing your napkin in your lap when you sit down can be seen in this scenario. If you don’t remove it, how will you eat?

fold 1

Even black tie affairs (white tail being the most formal) may have napkins on the plate, if that’s the host’s preference. Otherwise, it’s to the left of the plate, underneath the silverware. If the napkin is monogrammed, regardless of the fold, the monogram is in the bottom left in the case of a rectangle fold or the center in case of a diamond fold. When there is no monogram, the fold is closest to the plate. To be 100% honest, this is an area of etiquette that is not commonly practiced much any longer. The primary goal should be to have all of the napkins facing the same direction.

To remove your napkin, simply pick up the silverware with one hand, remove the napkin to your lap, then replace the silverware. Once it is under the table, open it to cover your lap (or leg).

I, unfortunately, do not have napkin rings. However, fold 2if you set your table with them and don’t want to roll the napkin, the pointed side is towards the diner. Just place the napkin ring to the top left of the place setting. Once the meal is finished, return the napkin to the ring with the pointed side toward the table.


If you have any other napkin questions, please ask away! Who knew there would be so much to learn about a piece of cloth (or paper)?

Fun Folds:

A Napkin Can Say So Much

A napkin can say so much. Knowing how and when to use it can not only save your lap, it can save your seat!

place setting1


When I first got interested in etiquette, dinners were what I naturally gravitated towards. I loved setting the table, putting out the special china and serving our favorite foods. Now, let it be known I do not advocate hiring out help unless you need it/can afford it, despite what the other Emily says…you know, Emily Post. However, I love a cloth napkin and feel they make any dinner special. Fun fact: napkin rings were created to let each person know which napkin belonged to them; they were kept on the table throughout the day for all meals. Appetizing, I know.

crumbled napkin1

No matter if it’s cloth or paper, as soon as you sit down, the first rule of napkin etiquette is to place your napkin on your lap. Ladies, this would be over your entire lap. Men, this is over your left leg. There your napkin will remain until you get up. If you want to return, place your napkin on your chair; this lets everyone know you’ll be back (Schwarzenegger impression). If you are leaving for good, place it to the left of your plate. That’s it. It’s that simple.

Asparagus and Other Finger Foods…

Finger foods seem to be the bane of etiquette lover’s existence. In my experience this is because they love the formal way etiquette provides. However, there are simply some food where it is wrong to use a fork and knife. Some common foods are corn-on-the-cob, tea sandwiches, pizza, burgers and cookies. Now, it should be said that no matter how casual the occasion, please don’t lick your fingers. Unless you’re alone, of course. A couple of things to keep in mind: Don’t hunch over your plate; it just makes your back hurt. STILL don’t place your elbows on the table. When possible, cut the food (a burger is a good example) in half before eating.

At very formal meals, a finger bowl is served. This is essentially a bowl of cold water. Lemon is usually put in the bowl after a lobster (yummy) meal, but any other meal would have flowers with the water at max. For an informal meal, either wipes (think all BBQ places) are provided or you may excuse yourself to wash your hands…just remember to place your napkin on your chair if you want to return!


Now, there are some foods that are not commonly thought of as finger foods. Asparagus happens to be my favorite. Not only do I love to eat it, but since it is a finger food, my kids love it, as well. One caveat: if a sauce is served with the asparagus, it changes to a fork and knife food. If it’s roasted in olive oil and served “dry,” pick it up! If you are at a formal dinner where a finger bowl will not be served, and you don’t want to get too messy, it is perfectly fine to use a fork and knife. Just know that you don’t have to. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this post! I currently have a post regarding holding utensils and folding napkins in the works. Please let me know if you have any other topic you’d like me to cover! Thank you for your support.

#etiquettebyemily #etiquette #fingerfoods

Welcome to Etiquette By Emily

Welcome, everyone! This has been a LONG time coming. Thanks to my wonderful (and persistent) husband, this blog is now LIVE! Please bear with us as we make a LOT of upcoming changes. I wanted to get everything up and running as quickly as possible. Over the course of this weekend, I will be posting all of the blog posts from my Facebook site to this one.

Please check back to find your favorite topic! As always, if there is something you’re interested in, please let me know, and I’ll make sure to cover it!

Thanks for reading!