Fine Dining: How to Choose the Best Dinner Napkins

Fine dining generally elicits a tone of formality, and quality is often a more important consideration than cost in such cases. Dinner napkins contribute to the overall dining experience and serve both practical and aesthetic functions. Several factors will likely play roles in your decision about which is the best set of dinner napkins for your needs. 

Why Selecting the Right Dinner Napkins Is Important

The following are several important factors that might influence your thought process when selecting the proper dinner napkins:


Dinner napkins play an important role in establishing the aesthetic of the table, serving to complement the tableware, linens, and the general theme of the fine dining. Choosing napkins that complement the event’s color scheme and general aesthetic helps contribute to a visually appealing table setting that enhances the ambiance and atmosphere for your clients.


Dinner napkins provide a functional purpose by allowing diners to wipe their hands and mouths during the meals, helping ensure a sanitary and hygienic environment. Selecting napkins of the proper size and products that are manufactured from absorbent materials ensures that they can fulfill this function effectively.

Material and Texture

Material and texture of dinner napkins can affect the comfort of your customers. Cotton or linen are two examples of soft, high-quality materials that are pleasing to the touch and can enhance the overall dining experience. Conversely, low-quality or abrasive materials may be uncomfortable and generally detract from the positive ambience.

Formality of the Occasion

The selection of dinner napkins can portray a sense of formality to the dining occasion. Cloth napkins are typically associated with formal dinner occasions, whereas paper napkins are usually associated with informal dining. The folding and presentation of the linens can also contribute to the level of formality.

Environmental Impact

Another factor you might want to consider is the eco-friendliness and environmental impact of the napkins or the company that makes them. Selecting reusable dinner napkins can help reduce the amount of waste produced and promote generally eco-friendly practices. Selecting eco-friendly materials and reusable options can contribute to an eco-friendly dining experience for your customers and employees, illustrating that your company cares about the environment and sustainability. 

Tips on Choosing the Right Dinner Napkins

Based on these considerations, selecting the right set of dinner napkins may now seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are some guidelines and tips on choosing the right napkins based on the factors described above: 

Selecting the Right Material, Size & Color

Consider material, size and color when selecting dinner napkins to ensure that the napkins complement the event’s theme and enhance the overall dining experience. 

  • For a more formal dining experience, opt for cloth napkins made from cotton or linen. These eco-friendly materials offer a soft and comfortable texture and superior absorbency. In addition, cloth napkins are reusable, which often amounts to a cost savings over time.

  • Consider choosing high-quality, thick paper napkins with excellent absorbency and softness for informal settings where disposability is essential.

  • Dinner napkins range in size from 18 to 24 square inches for linen napkins and 15 to 17 square inches for paper napkins. Choose a size that helps achieve a balance between functionality and aesthetics based on the event type and table setting.

Coordinate the Napkins With Other Tableware

Make sure to also choose a color that coordinates with the table linens, tableware, and overarching theme of the event. You can choose neutral colors, such as white, ivory, or beige, for a classic, elegant appearance, or you can choose more vibrant hues for a festive ambiance.

  • Create a cohesive table setting by coordinating the napkin color with other table elements, such as tablecloths or centerpieces.

  • If you prefer patterns or textures, choose designs that balance the event’s theme without dominating the tablescape.

Select a Napkin That Aligns with Your Intended Arrangement and Folding Design

You may also want to consider the presentation of the napkins because folding styles can convey varying degrees of formality and be used to create a variety of visual effects. 

Choose the Best-Quality Dinner Napkin You Can Afford

Choose napkins of superior quality that are durable, absorbent and comfortable. This decision ensures that the dinner napkins can serve their intended function and contribute to a pleasant dining experience.

  • Check the embroidery and finishing of cloth napkins to ensure that they are durable and can withstand repeated washings.

  • Select a napkin with a reputation of environmental friendliness.

  • Choose napkins made from sustainable materials, such as organic cotton or recycled paper, to help ensure that the napkins are eco-friendly. Reusable cloth napkins are more environmentally friendly than disposable paper napkins.

  • Consider purchasing linens with organic, Fairtrade, or other eco-friendly certifications.

By considering each of these factors and adhering to these tips, you can choose dinner napkins that enhance the overall dining experience and contribute to an aesthetically pleasing and functional table setting. 

How Alsco Can Help With Your Dinner Napkins

Alsco offers a range of high-quality and environmentally friendly napkins, tableware and linen services. When you work with us, we manage the entire process for you, ensuring that you always have clean, high-quality and fresh napkins on hand. We can manage all your linen needs, so you don’t have to worry about any part of the process. Contact us today to learn more and get started.


The Environmental Impact of Paper Towels. (2023). Tiny Waste

Taste Makers in the ¨Fine-Dining¨ Restaurant Industry: The Attribution of Aesthetic and Economic Value by Gastronomic Guides. (August 2013). Poetics

Paper Napkins Are Expensive and Environmentally Unsound. Now the Industry is Trying to Save Itself. (October 2019). Vox.

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