Napkin Sizes

Napkins are a part of dining etiquette and decor. Napkin sizes may also help in setting the mood and functionality of a table setting. You can find napkins in all sizes, from small cocktail napkins to larger dinner versions.

The standard napkin size is typically 15 × 15 inches (38.1 × 38.1 cm). Variations include cocktail napkins at 10 × 10 inches (25.4 × 25.4 cm) and luncheon napkins at 18 × 18 inches (45.72 × 45.72 cm).

Napkin sizes

This guide will go over the basics of using napkins, as well as various napkin sizes for different settings and how you can use different napkins creatively.

Basics of Using Napkins

Using napkins correctly can greatly enhance your dining experience, especially in formal settings. Here’s a quick breakdown of how to use napkins correctly.

Napkin Etiquette in Formal Settings

In formal dining, place the napkin on your lap soon after sitting. Use the napkin to gently dab your mouth, avoiding aggressive wiping. If you need to leave the table, place the napkin on your chair, not the table.

Using Napkins in Casual Settings

In casual dining, the etiquette is more relaxed. You can use the napkin to clean your hands and face as needed. It’s still polite to place the napkin on your lap during the meal.

Disposable vs. Cloth Napkins

Disposable napkins are convenient for informal occasions and offer easy cleanup. Cloth napkins, used in formal settings, are more sustainable and add a touch of class to the dining experience.

Napkin Colors and Patterns

The color and pattern of a napkin can complement the table setting. Neutral colors are versatile, while bold colors can make a statement. Patterns should match the theme of the dining event.

Napkin Sizes for Different Occasions

Choosing the right napkin size for different occasions can elevate the dining experience. The dimensions mentioned below refer to unfolded napkins. For square napkins, you can usually get the folded dimensions by halving the unfolded measurements.

1. Cocktail Napkins

Cocktail napkins are typically around 10 × 10 inches (25.4 × 25.4 cm). These smaller napkins are perfect for social gatherings where drinks and light appetizers are served. They are easy to handle and help prevent drips or spills on clothes.

2. Dinner Napkins

Dinner napkins are larger, usually 20 × 20 inches (50.8 × 50.8 cm). They are used in formal dining settings. Their size is perfect for draping on laps, providing ample coverage and absorbency for a full meal. These napkins are often made of high-quality fabrics like linen or thick cotton.

3. Wedding Napkins

Wedding napkins vary in size but often lean towards the larger end, around 20 × 20 inches (50.8 × 50.8 cm). They are not just functional but also part of the wedding decor. Customized with monograms, colors, and fabrics, they contribute significantly to the table aesthetics and overall theme of the wedding.

4. Corporate Events

For corporate events, napkin size depends on the formality of the meal. Luncheon napkins, 18 × 18 inches (45.72 × 45.72 cm), are common for semi-formal events, while dinner-sized napkins are used for more formal gatherings. Quality and presentation are key in these settings.

5. Family Gatherings

Family gatherings often use luncheon size napkins, 18 × 18 inches (45.72 × 45.72 cm). These are versatile for various meal types and are easier for children to handle. They can be made of washable fabrics for repeated use or disposable materials for easy cleanup.

Top Napkin Picks

Napkin Pick Napkin Type Unfolded Napkin Size Unfolded Napkin Size
Comfy Package White Beverage Napkins Cocktail 4.5 × 4.5 in. 9 × 9 in.
Winoo 3-ply Cocktail Napkins Cocktail 5 × 5 in. 10 × 10 in.
My Drap Basics Cocktail Napkins Cocktail 4.3 × 4.3 in.
Ruvanti Cloth Napkins Luncheon 18 × 18 in.
Maison d’Hermine Colmar Dinner 10 × 10 in. 20 × 20 in.
O’lucio Linen Hemstitch Dinner Napkin Dinner 18 × 18 in.
SFERRA Festival Decorative Dinner Napkins Dinner 20 × 20 in.
Utopia Home Polyester Napkins Wedding 8.5 × 8.5 in. 17 × 17 in.

Creative Uses of Different Napkin Sizes

While the main purpose of napkins is for dining use, there’s so much more you can do with them.

1. Crafting with Napkins

Napkins of all sizes can be transformed into art. Cocktail napkins, with their smaller size, are perfect for decoupage projects on items like candles, boxes, or scrapbooks. Luncheon and dinner napkins, being larger, can be used for fabric art projects, such as creating banners, quilts, or even custom table covers.

2. Decorative Folding Techniques for Various Sizes

Small cocktail napkins can be folded into simple shapes like triangles or rolls. Luncheon napkins offer more flexibility and are suitable for designs like the bishop’s hat or the rose fold. Dinner napkins, with the most space, can be transformed into elaborate shapes like swans, fans, or the classic fleur-de-lis. These folding techniques can be a focal point for table decor.

3. Personalized Napkins for Special Occasions

Customizing napkins adds a personal touch to events. Printing names, dates, or special messages on cocktail napkins make them keepsakes for guests at weddings or anniversaries. Larger napkins can be embroidered for family gatherings, creating a memorable dining experience.

4. DIY Napkin Rings with Different Sizes

Creating DIY napkin rings is a simple way to add charm to table settings. Use smaller napkins to make delicate rings for cocktail parties or larger, more elaborate rings for dinner napkins at formal events.


1. What is the most versatile napkin size?

The most versatile napkin size is the luncheon napkin, typically 18 × 18 inches (45.7 × 45.7 cm). It’s suitable for various occasions, from casual lunches to semi-formal dinners. When in doubt, it’s almost always better to go big.

2. Tips for maintaining the quality of different sized napkins?

To maintain the quality of reusable napkins of any size, follow these tips:

  1. Wash cloth napkins after each use, following the fabric care instructions. Avoid harsh detergents to preserve color and texture.
  2. For stains, treat them promptly with a suitable stain remover before washing.
  3. Iron cloth napkins when damp for a crisp finish, especially for formal settings.
  4. Store napkins in a dry, cool place to prevent mold and fading.
  5. For paper napkins, keep them flat and away from moisture to maintain their shape and prevent warping.