Monday, February 6, 2012

Tea Party Napkin Etiquette

You're at a tea party and one of the first things you see is the lovely linen napkin placed beside your plate. It's almost too pretty to use. As you take your seat you wonder if there are any etiquette rules you are supposed to follow.
So glad you asked! You did ask, didn't you?
The first thing to do is keep an eye on your hostess. You should not pick up your napkin until she does. When she places her napkin on her lap, you can unfold your napkin under the table and place it on your lap. If it is a large napkin, leave it folded in half and place it on your lap with the fold facing you. If it is a smaller napkin, o0pen it all the way.
Once the napkin is placed on your lap, it should never go back on the table unltill you are ready to leave the table, at the end of the meal.
If you need to use your napkin, just dab the corners of your mouth with it. Do not blot your lips, leaving an ugly sipstick stain.
If you need to leave the table for a short period, but plan on returning, place the napkin on the seat of your chair. At the end of the party, when you are ready to leave, fold the napkin, loosely, and place it to the left of your plate. Again, follow your hostess. If she finishes before you, and places her napkin on the table, you should do the same. Follow her lead, even if you have not finished eating.
Most tea parties are not so formal that you need to worry about the "Napkin Police" coming to arrest you, but it's nice to know the right thing to do.