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 rectangle 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?
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, if 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: http://bumblebeelinens.com/napkinFolding.php