From another blog I follow. I thought this was great!
20-40-60 Etiquette: Where do I put my napkin?
QUESTION: I observed some pretty bad habits at the dinner table this year and so I decided to write and ask you all about napkins.
Do napkins stay in your lap during the entire meal? When do you unfold them and put them in your lap? Where does it go if you need to leave the table?
Can you use them to blow your nose if necessary?
CALLIE’S ANSWER: Etiquette 101: When you sit down put your napkin in your lap! Napkins should stay in your lap during the entire meal unless you get up from you are seated. When you do get up, put the napkin in the chair.
Really? Blowing your nose at the dinner table…Gross! Excuse yourself.
LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I was always taught that the napkin goes in your lap as soon as you sit down and stays there unless you need to use it to wipe your mouth. You can also use it to discreetly spit out some bone or gristle found in your meal, but that’s an answer for another time. I don’t think you should use it to blow your nose unless it’s an emergency sneeze that you can’t fight quietly.
If you need to leave the table, you put it back on the table neatly by the silverware, only to return it to your lap once you sit back down.
HELEN’S ANSWER: When you are at dinner with a host, wait for him to unfold his napkin before you unfold yours and then it goes directly on your lap. When you are at a restaurant, place your napkin in your lap as soon as you sit down. If you leave the table, place your napkin to the left of your plate so it is easy to get to when you sit back down.
No nose blowing at the table. Excuse yourself and use a Kleenex or handkerchief. Napkins are for discreetly wiping the mouth and for protecting your lap from food spills.
GUEST’S ANSWER: Mary McReynolds, Author: I’ve always been taught to unfold and place the dinner napkin in my lap when I’m seated and leave it in situ until the absolute end of the meal. I place the used napkin to the right of my plate. Blowing one’s nose into a dinner napkin entails a rather trumpeting effect and defeats the purpose of dabbing one’s mouth with it during the meal.
Tissues and handkerchiefs are designed for blowing of the nose issues. As a side note, one doesn’t wave the dinner napkin as a flag or devise entertaining folding games with it. Laps are always the proper places for the dinner napkin.
Callie Gordon, a college junior, was an Oklahoma City 2009 debutante. Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a former debutante and currently the assistant features editor for The Oklahoman. Helen Wallace has written a social column for The Oklahoman for many years and has been on various local Ball committees. Guest is Mary McReynolds, Book author.
Ask a specific etiquette question and you will get three answers…Then you decide for yourself how you would handle the situation. The answers have information for every age range….Callie is 20-ish; Lillie-Beth is 40-something, and Helen is 60-plus.This group does not always agree (via age differences), but they ALL see the need for proper behavior.