Napkins have been an essential part of dining culture for centuries. They not only serve a practical purpose but also add an element of style and sophistication to any table setting. In this post, we will explore everything you need to know about napkins, including their history, different types, and sizes, the benefits of cloth and disposable napkins, and how to fold them.
History of Napkins
The use of napkins can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as Rome, Greece, and Egypt. In these cultures, napkins were made from materials such as papyrus, leaves, and cloth. However, it wasn't until the 15th century that napkins became commonplace in European dining culture. During this time, they were typically made from linen or silk and were used by the wealthy to wipe their hands and faces during meals.
Different Types and Sizes of Napkins
There are several different types and sizes of napkins, each with its own specific purpose. Cocktail napkins, for example, are small and designed to be used for drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Dinner napkins, on the other hand, are larger and intended to be used at a table during a meal. Here are some common types and sizes of napkins:
- Cocktail napkins: These are small napkins, typically around 5 to 6 inches in size, and are designed to be used for drinks and hors d'oeuvres.
- Luncheon napkins: These are larger than cocktail napkins, around 6 to 7 inches in size, and are intended to be used during a light meal or snack.
- Dinner napkins: These are the largest napkins, around 8 to 10 inches in size, and are used during a full sit down meal.
- Buffet napkins: These are larger than cocktail napkins but smaller than dinner napkins, around 7 to 8 inches in size, and are used for buffets or informal dining.
- Dessert napkins: These are small napkins, typically around 4 to 5 inches in size, and are used for desserts or coffee.
- Guest towels: These are rectangular napkins, typically around 12 to 17 inches in size, and are used in bathrooms for guests to dry their hands.
It's important to choose the right size of napkin for your occasion to ensure that it's functional and aesthetically pleasing. Cocktail and luncheon napkins are suitable for more casual settings, while dinner and buffet napkins are more appropriate for formal events.
Cloth vs. Disposable Napkins
When it comes to choosing between cloth and disposable napkins, there are pros and cons to both. Cloth napkins are more environmentally friendly and can be reused, making them a more sustainable option. Additionally, they come in a variety of colors and patterns, allowing you to choose a style that suits your taste. Disposable napkins, on the other hand, are more convenient and require less maintenance. They are also more affordable and come in a range of styles and designs, making them suitable for any occasion. Just because you want the convenience of disposable napkins doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality. For example, Vietri napkins feel like cloth but are made of paper.
Placing Your Napkin
When setting a formal table, it's important to know where to place your napkin. Dinner napkins should be placed on the left-hand side of the plate, folded into a rectangular shape with the open end facing towards the center of the table. If you're using a charger plate, the napkin can be placed on top of the charger.
One of the fun things about napkins is that they can be folded into a variety of shapes and designs, adding an extra touch of creativity to your table setting. Some popular napkin folds include the classic rectangle, the fan, and the pyramid. Even more creative are the rose, swan and bunny folded napkins. You can find a variety of tutorials online to help you create different folds for your napkins.
Napkins are an essential part of any dining experience, whether you're hosting a formal dinner party or enjoying a casual meal with friends. By understanding the history, different types, and sizes of napkins, as well as the benefits of cloth and disposable options, you can choose the perfect napkin to suit your needs. Don't forget to place your dinner napkin on the left-hand side of your plate and have fun experimenting with different napkin folds to add a touch of creativity to your table setting.