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Table Linen Care • Linen Napkins

outdoor dining - stunning red napkins The linen napkin has been used since the Middle Ages in Europe, when the lack of cutlery caused people to wipe their hands on the edges of the tablecloth.  Because of messy food build-up the tablecloth had to be replaced after every course, until the French got wise and added an extra cover to the edges of the table.  The cover could be changed quickly, were not so cumbersome that the interrupted conversations while being changed, and allowed the settings to remain on the table.  Eventually, these covers became detached from the table so that individuals could use them to dab lips and fingertips.  The napkin was born!

Today, napkins are integral to any meal.  Whether you are hosting an elegant reception or a casual lunch, a formal business dinner or an easygoing brunch, the correct napkins can do much toward setting the tone of the event.

While we would all love to have endless china and flatware for every occasion, budget and space usually means that this isn't the case.  That being said, a versatile set of china can evoke many moods when properly accessorized by napkins.  Stiff, white linen napkins folded into a fancy design can make your place setting elegant or formal, while brightly colored napkins rolled into fun rings can make the place settings — using the same set of china — relaxed and formal.

Traditionally, a plainly folded napkin is placed in the middle of each place setting, between the knife and fork.  If the main course is put on the table before the guests are seated, napkins are placed to the left of the plate.  Napkins can be folded into all kinds of shapes, including triangles, squares, and complex structural shapes.  They can also be rolled into napkin holders.

Those who are investing in their first napkins can't go wrong with white or off-white napkins in linen or cotton damask.  These napkins are versatile, last for many years, and can stand up to repeated washings.  For even more versatility, napkins are available in a wide variety of colors and prints from home interior stores, and can dramatically change the look of a table.  The right napkin adds a whole new dimension to your meals!

damask napkins - dinnerware

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History and Usage of Linen Table Napkins

knife and fork on a linen napkin
Red Linen Napkin on a White Plate