It was my early 20’s. I was at a chichi restaurant with my very accomplished aunt and uncle. A place where every size spoon, fork, knife, plate and glass was on the table. Sitting next to me, my aunt spotted my sloppily placed napkin in my lap. She then taught me the correct way to fold it and what to do with it when I left the table. She told me “You will need to know proper etiquette in your line of work as you present yourself to clients”. I’ve been intrigued by that ever since. I’m still learning everything I can. Let’s absorb proper etiquette together.
March 4, 2016
RULES OF THE NAPKIN
Dining: whether it’s with clients, a first date or even meeting the parents—always try to put your best you forward. I’m not saying you have to be perfect but at least make an effort. Good table manners will help you look more put together. Proper etiquette shows you’re considerate of others.
The do’s and don’ts of the napkin:
Do: Place the napkin in your lap. If there’s a host at the dinner, wait for them to pick their napkin up first and then go for it. If there isn’t a host, wait for two to three people to be seated before you make your move.
Don’t: Tuck it in your shirt or tie it around your neck.
Do: Fold the napkin correctly. For starters, don’t do it above the table. Fold it under the table and just above your lap. If it’s a large napkin, fold it in half so it creates a triangle and then place it in your lap with the fold closest to your belly. Then take the folded end and fold it over once more to create a cuff. If the napkin is on the small side, unfold it completely. All you men out there…the napkin goes on the center of your lap. Not one leg. In upscale restaurants, servers often place the napkin in your lap for you. Always a plus.
Don’t: Accidentally leave it folded on the table throughout the entire dinner.
Do: Place the napkin loosely folded on your chair if you get up anytime mid meal.
Don’t: Place it on the table when using the restroom. Or even worse, forget it’s on your lap and track it throughout the restaurant. The napkin shouldn’t return to the table until you’re ready to leave the establishment.
Do: Use your napkin to blot your lips. Woman…not a lipstick blotter.
Don’t: Use it to wipe your mouth or to discard unwanted food. If you can’t chew your meat, discreetly return it to your plate. Otherwise a server may disclose your secret when you leave for the restroom and your napkin is refolded.
Do: Place the napkin to the left of your plate when the dinner is completely over. If your plate has been removed, put the napkin in front of you on the table.
Don’t: Throw it on your plate when you are finished.
Oh, and one more don’t: Can’t forget this one. Never, ever, ever use the napkin to blow your nose!
With the pointers listed above, you should be confident and ready to operate your napkin. Good luck out there!
Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach
Aunt Diana Brown