ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Use A Napkin Properly and Politely

Updated on September 1, 2011
Silver plated diamond napkin holders show the reverence and care with which a napkin should be treated.
Silver plated diamond napkin holders show the reverence and care with which a napkin should be treated. | Source

A napkin (also known as a serviette in the United Kingdom and its erstwhile colonies) is a common enough item in every day dining, but it is often sorely misused by those who encounter it in semi-formal and formal occasions. These three simple rules of napkin etiquette will aid you in using your napkin in a manner that is not only polite, but likely to garner further dinner invitations in the future. Remember, good napkin etiquette not only ensures the protection of your clothing, but also your reputation.

The First Rule of Napkin Etiquette: Never shake a napkin. Ever.

A napkin is not a cape to be flashed around the dining room or restaurant as if a charging bull had also been invited along. It should be unfolded with care, flat if it is a small napkin, or in half across your lap if it is a larger napkin. One should never find oneself wearing a napkin like a skirt.

The Second Rule of Napkin Etiquette: Your napkin is a not a wet wipe.

Yes, it's a perfectly serviceable square of material distinct from the table cloth. In theory, one should be free to wipe one's face and fingers and cutlery until the proverbial cows come home. This is terrible etiquette however. Nothing should ever be wiped on a napkin. A napkin's sole purpose is to catch any stray slops or drops of food you might spill whilst listening to your host's recitation of the complete works of Leo Tolstoy.

The Third Rule of Napkin Etiquette: Do not crumple, crush, or otherwise mangle your napkin.

A napkin should always be loosely folded and placed to the left hand side of your plate when you are done with it. It should not be scrunched up and placed on the plate, unless one happens to be at one of the less refined express food diners that are so popular in this modern age and one's plate was a plastic tray in the first place.

It is also a no-no to try to fold the napkin back into something approximating its original state. You are not a ninja covering your traces. You do not need to pretend as if you had never touched the napkin, or indeed, been at the dinner at all. Unless, of course, you actually are a ninja on a deadly mission and any traces of your presence at dinner could have dire consequences.

It should go without saying that the napkin should not be left on the chair, where the server or perhaps the host themselves will be forced to later retrieve it like a sniffer dog hunting for treats beneath the table cloth.

The Fourth Rule of Napkin Etiquette: It's a napkin, not a bib.

Never tuck your napkin into your collar, unless you are actually home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play. Napkins should always be laid across the lap, never worn like a second tie. Of course, if you are consistently slopping food down the front of your body to the point that you feel the need to bib yourself, napkin etiquette may very well be the least of your worries.


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)