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Why do cloth napkins come in so many different sizes?

Why do cloth napkins come in so many different sizes?

I am currently in the process of making my own cloth napkins and I grabbed a variety of different styles and notice they all were different sizes.  Why is that? Some are 20″ x 20″, some are 18″ x 18″, and some are 16″ x 16″.  I’ve noticed it before, but never questioned why?  I just figured it was because they were made by different manufacturers and different companies.  But did you know there is an actual reason for the different sizes?  It all depends on the occasion and the course you are serving.

Here is the cloth napkin size breakdown

Tea: 12 inches sq

Breakfast/Luncheon: 14 inches –  16 inches sq

Informal Dinner: 18 inches –  20 inches sq

Formal Dinner (with multiple courses): 22 inches – 26 inches sq

Buffet: 18 inches – 24 inches sq

Bistro napkin: 18 inches x 22 inches (they are the only rectangular napkin)


After learning about this fun information I realized that our everyday cloth napkins are 14″ x 14″, and whenever I have a formal dinner setting I usually pull out the 20″ x 20″ napkins, not even knowing I had proper napkin etiquette.

You should go and check your linen drawer to see what size your napkins are.  You may surprise yourself by discovering that you are choosing the right napkins for the right occasion as well.  Although it really doesn’t matter what size the napkin is,  all that matters is that they are put to good use with good company.

Happy entertaining!

Gretchen ~ All 4 One Home

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