Ladies and gentleman, you should have met this situation before: at a formal dinner, you want to take a rest in the bathroom and put your napkin on your chair. Misfortune! You have a dirty napkin with a lot of marks of food on it. You will also encounter such situation at the end of the dinner, when you will leave your napkin on the table, apparent to anyone. How can you avoid this embarrassing and uncomfortable situation? Here is the solution.

Your napkin is full of greasy food marks or lipstick marks, who can honestly say they have never faced this situation? If you wish to learn more about the napkin etiquette, I suggest you to take a look at our previous article. If you put it back on your knees, the outfit you chose particularly for this occasion will be ruined, if you let it on the table, everyone will see how many times you used your napkin and what you ate. What else could you do? 

What you should not do

Faux-pas 1

You are an elegant person, it is unforgivable for you to let your stained napkin on the table, in plain view to anyone. If you think that nobody will see it, you are wrong, they will even think this is a particularly disgusting behaviour.

Faux-pas 2

You cannot wipe it with the tablecloth, nobody does. It will let marks as well on the tablecloth. What a dirty idea ! If you had some food pieces on your napkin, you will spread it everywhere on the tablecloth. Don’t even think about it.

Faux-pas 3

I am sure you understand you cannot ask a waiter to change your napkin. Would you do it every time you wiped your mouth? And what if you are a guest at someone’s home? Plus, it is not something discreet at all, your table neighbours will notice that you asked to change your napkin and start to fell suspicious about you.

What you should do

Step 1

There is one first thing to know: how to fold your napkin on your legs. You have two possibilities: you can either fold it in triangle (more mostly used in the hospitality world) or in square.

Fold in square

Fold in triangle

Step 2

Now that your napkin is folded, you must place it on your knees. The secret is to keep the open side of your serviette in front of you. You should be able to open it discreetly and easily.

Step 3

When comes the moment when you have to wipe your mouth, take your napkin with both hands and open it a little using the side in front of you. Pat your mouth with the interior side of your serviette. When it is over, close your napkin, nobody is able to see the inside of it, which should be now dirty and everyone will notice your perfect and immaculate outer side of your serviette.

Beware: don’t scrub your mouth, if you have lipstick, it will be ruined.

Congratulations! You have navigated through a difficult incident that may have caused you to lose face. Dinning manners are indeed sophisticated and many specific rules are to respect, in order to help you in the high society dinners.