One of my favorite indulgences is pretty cocktail napkins. They add an elevated feel to any occasion, especially when they feature a design that encourages conversation.
Cocktail napkins are square, 5 x 5-inch pieces of good quality paper or cloth. They come in an array of beautiful designs and colors and are fun to collect. No matter the type of event, there’s a perfect option…whimsical, understated, or formal, and of course, functional.
A cocktail napkin should always be present when beverages are being served. Whether lounging by the pool or mingling at a cocktail party, they keep your hands dry for a gracious handshake and absorb condensation, protecting your host’s furniture when you set your drink down.
There are some fun, friendly, and easy do’s and don’ts that should be observed when providing and using cocktail napkins.
- Keep a supply of pretty paper or linen napkins.
- Offer your guest a clean, fresh paper napkin with each drink. (Have extra linen napkins on hand but not for each additional beverage.)
- Locate a great retail source for unique special orders.
- Include a set on your gift registry when planning your shower or wedding.
- Curate an assortment for holidays and special events. It’s comforting to have a variety to choose from no matter the celebration.
- Allow them to serve as conversation starters.
- Let the formality of the ceremony dictate the quality of the cocktail napkin. Paper for outdoor and less formal occasions, linen for upscale affairs.
- Think outside of the box. For example, as a tea napkin for a dainty dessert or a collection of framed art pieces for your wall.
- Give a pretty set of cocktail napkins as a hostess gift.
- Blot your waxy lip gloss on a linen cocktail napkin.
- Serve your guest a drink on a soiled napkin.
- Substitute a large dinner napkin or paper towel.
- Scrimp on the quality of the material (especially considering it’s such an important detail).
- Use as a primary receptacle for pits, seeds, or chewing gum. If you find you need to remove something into your cocktail napkin, immediately dispose of the soiled napkin and retrieve a new one.
- Be caught without a few packages of inexpensive but attractive cocktail napkins for unexpected guests.
- Forget to position a stack of cocktail napkins at the bar when you’ve hired a bartender for a special event.
- Confuse a dinner napkin (15” X 17”) or luncheon napkin (13” X 13”) with a tiny cocktail napkin.
Though they are small in size, their impact is considerable. Never underestimate the impression a cocktail napkin will make on your guests. Whether you opt for stamped, striped, vintage, floral, or embroidered, have fun as you start your collection.
For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, read her Inc. contributions, subscribe to her articles on Huffington Post, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, or follow her on Pinterest and Instagram.