Manner #3: What To Do With Your Napkin
Attention Getter: I set the table using cloth napkins. I put some napkins to the left of the plates and other napkins on top of the plates. I also placed a napkin in a goblet in front of dad’s plate. The kids noticed the fancier touch right away. I told them we would be learning about how to use our napkins.
Manner: Here is what we learned about napkin etiquette: First locate your napkin. It will be in one of three places: on your plate, to the left of your plate, or in a goblet. The napkin goes on your lap right after prayer/grace is said. If grace is not said, follow the lead of the hostess. Your napkin stays on your lap all dinner. You wipe your hands with the napkin on your lap. If you need to wipe your face it is okay to bring the napkin to your face. It is also okay to wet the corner of your napkin to wipe off a spill on your clothes (didn’t know that). You should usually wipe your face and hands before you drink so you don’t leave a mess on the glass. Now in the middle of dinner, the doorbell rang and all the kids jumped up to get it (it was grandma bringing us caramel apples). Our impromptu guest was great because I could teach that you put your napkin on your chair when you get up from the table in the middle of dinner if you are coming back. At the end of the meal the napkin goes on the table to the right of your plate. And, it probably goes with out saying (unless you’re George Costanza), don’t blow your nose in your cloth napkin.
Why?: Throughout dinner we talked about why the rules are the way they are. And it goes back to just making everyone comfortable and keeping the dirt and germs off the table.
Practice: My girls loved to daintily wipe the corners of their mouths with the corners of their napkins. At the end of dinner, I asked everyone to tell me one new thing they learned about napkin etiquette because even I learned something new. When the kids set the table the rest of the week they got to choose to put the napkin on the plate or to the left of the plate. During each meal we talked about napkin issues that came up.
Follow-Up: We checked out a napkin folding book from the library and we practiced different folds. It was called “Napkin Folds: Beautifully Styled Napkins for Every Occasion” by Jones and Brehaut. This was more difficult than I expected (probably because I am just not good at following specific directions) and I was not about to iron and starch the napkins (I do have limits). This napkin folding website seemed easier to follow. My younger kids lost interest, but my 8 year old ate it up. Her favorite was “Flickering Flames”. She enjoyed it so much she set the table for Sunday dinner with different napkin folds. I am looking forward to trying some for the Thanksgiving table.