This past weekend, I was finishing the last of the clean up from Easter and thought you might like see my take on how to deal with dinner napkins. Here are my tricks.
No Starch Rule
I never, EVER use starch on my dinner napkins. There is nothing worse (except maybe not being invited to the party) than wiping your mouth on a scratchy, stiff piece of fabric. I load up the iron with water and place the setting on maximum steam. I also spritz each napkins with water before I begin ironing. This makes for a wrinkle free napkin without the scratchiness.
Medium Heat Only
Do not place your iron on the highest setting (even if the napkin is 100% cotton). I have found when you place the iron on it's highest heat setting any residue left on your iron will come off on your napkins. Then you have to start all over with the washing process. If you have a good iron, you only need to place it on medium heat to get the job done.
Get all your napkins clean, ironed, and organized as soon as you can following a party. I used to leave the napkins in a heap in my laundry room until my next dinner party. Then, I would dread having to iron prior to the party. It made me not want to have a party!
Then I happened to go to a friend's house who had all her table linens organized in a cabinet. They were all in one place, ironed and folded and ready to go. I thought, she could have a party tonight! So, it motivated me to get this piece done long before the next party.
Make It Special
Using cloth napkins is such a small thing, but it feels like a big luxury. Think about how special you feel when someone invites you to dinner and they use nice linen napkins. The thing to remember is there is an initial investment, but after that, they cost you nothing and really create a special feeling for a party.
After the Party "Must Do"
Once everyone leaves your party, it is important to put the napkins in the washer to soak. I use this wonderful product called The Laundress. It smells great (like nothing I have ever found elsewhere) and will take out lipstick, red wine and most sauces. (I have even used this stuff on the limestone surround of my fireplace and it took out years of black soot!) I fill the washer with hot water and the detergent and leave the napkins in there to soak all night. The next morning, I run the cycle and they all come out white and clean.
My Favorite Fold
There really is no right or wrong way, but this is my favorite method. It's great because it does not have a front or back; and if you later choose to use a napkin ring, there is no crease in the center. Start with a clean napkin ironed front and back.
Buy High Quality, but Keep it Simple
I like to use napkins that are 100% cotton or linen in white. I also like the ones with a hemstitched edge. They go with everything. You can change the look of your table by using different flowers and accessories rather than investing in lots of expensive linens.
Locally, I like to purchase my napkins from Smith's Variety Store in Mountain Brook Village! Believe it or not, they have a great hemstitched cotton napkin for a fraction of the cost of other places in town.
For a great option online I like these at $23 for a dozen.
That's my take on dinner napkins. Happy Tuesday! M.