Napkin Placement

I’ve had a few comments asking about napkin placement when setting the table. Does it go on the right, left or center? Unlike the game, there are no dice to roll to tell us the answer. It ultimately depends on the formality of the meal, so allow me to guide you through it.

For the most formal eating occasions, the napkin is in the center, either on the plate or charger. Although the only silverware on the table during each course is what is to be used during said course, the table is fully set until the first course is served. At that time, everything is removed other than what is needed for that course. This is when having help comes in handy. Alas, most of us do not. From this stems what most Americans consider formal…the “working in” method, with the utensils to be used first generally on the outside. Even in this instance, I would recommend that you place the napkin on the plate. One extra benefit of this is it encourages people to immediately put their napkin on their lap, which is in accordance to etiquette.


For less formal occasions (even those still involving china), you can place the flatware directly on top of the napkin or place the napkin directly to the left of the fork(s).



For a typical place setting, you have one fork (two at most, as shown in photo), a knife and a spoon. I would recommend placing the napkin to the side of the fork(s), unless space is an issue. This biggest concern with placing the napkin under the fork(s) is the potential fumbling when people pick the fork(s) up and try to replace them.

If you are uncertain, err on the side of caution, and place the napkin on the plate. No one will notice that you don’t have servers; they’ll be too impressed with your napkin-placing skills. ūüėČ

Please let me know any questions you have! Thank you for reading!

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.