Being Measured and Falling Short

There are so many pleasures that come with entertaining in your home.  Memorable times abound with family and friends in the privacy of your own four walls and around a kitchen or dining table.  

One thing I have always enjoyed is setting the table for dinner when entertaining.  Somewhere along the way I became interested in napkin folding.  Indeed, I have come to think about napkin folding among my few talents.  I was going to add it to my resume at one point but then thought better of it.  Over the years I took napkin folding to heart.  I have two books on the subject.  I used to think of it in a small way as an artistic addition to the table.  I used to think of it that way.


Thinking of writing this blog has been in the works a long time.  I came upon a piece almost five months ago that poured cold water all over my idea of folded napkins and it’s taken me this long to write about it.  An article in the Globe and Mail this spring focused on the book The Butler Speaks: A Guide to Stylish Entertaining, Etiquette and the Art of Good Housekeeping.  The book was written by one Charles the Butler.  

And when it came to folded napkins, he writes: “Overly intricate folds may be seen as a sign of lack of sophistication, and even as unhygienic: a professional butler will do everything in his power to avoid touching your napkin.”

I noticed today that there was a chance to ask Charles the Butler questions after the article was published.  I was hoping someone would challenge him on his severe view of folded napkins.  But no, no one asked about napkin folding.  

Here I sit, now, unsophisticated, perhaps even unhygienic looking through my books to find a fold for our upcoming dinner party.  I have decided on one fold I will use today.  It consists of folding that newspaper article in half and feeding the page through our paper shredder.

In the world of entertaining, have you ever done something you thought was really quite eye-catching or fashionable to be told or to read that someone thinks you have fallen short of their etiquette measurement?