LA based founder of Murchison-Hume Max Kater appreciates the finer things in life, is one of the most elegant people we know, yet somehow makes it all look effortless. She shares with us a reminder of how it needn't be a chore to elevate every meal with the use of table linen (rather than paper towels) and an amusing take on the napkin ring...
The Real Point of Napkin Rings
Way before Martha Stewart made us all feel bad about ourselves for using paper towels as napkins, normal citizens would use cotton or linen napkins (or serviettes) at every meal. Using an actual piece of fabric to wipe the vinaigrette from your chin had an obvious downside: eventually it had to be laundered, folded and pressed before it could be put back into service.
Score one for paper towels.
Today, napkin rings have been elevated to the status of tabletop bling, mostly reserved as a decorative item at dinner parties and special occasions. But that’s not where they started. Oh no.
The actual point of a napkin rings was to hold a (used) napkin for the exclusive use of the same diner on multiple occasions until it was ready to be laundered again. Sometimes for as long as a week. That’s why they were plain silver and always engraved with a monogram to keep them separate.
I know, to the uninitiated it sounds pretty gross to keep a used napkin in a drawer to use all week, but really, if you know how to use a knife and fork, it shouldn’t be all that dirty.
But I’ll admit that when we are eating something saucy/messy and hands on (BBQ ribs come to mind) I opt for a paper napkin. But…as a rule, I don’t like to use them because it does encourage sloppy use of cutlery (there really shouldn’t be any vinaigrette on your chin) and I really hate the waste of it all.
I want to encourage all of you Practical Aesthetes out there to swap out your paper napkins for real ones this year. You can find a cotton or linen napkin to suit any budget and likewise, you can find engravable napkin rings at any price-point. And don’t feel like you have to match them! Back in the day, they were given as christening gifts when child was born with the intention that he would take it off with him to school. We love having our own napkin rings. They’re an easy life upgrade and will make everyday dinners just that little bit better. And who doesn’t love that?