Standard Napkin Sizes and Guidelines (with Size Chart)

Napkins can be used for a variety of purposes when consuming food and drink, and they also serve a more aesthetic purpose in homes and restaurants as they can be used to help decorate a dining table and make place settings look more appealing. The type of napkin you need and the size required will be dictated by your event.

In this article, we will explore the most popular types of napkins, such as beverage, luncheon, dinner, and dispenser napkins, as well as their standard sizes.

Some common napkin types and their sizes include: beverage napkins of 10″ x 10″ when fully laid out flat, 5″ x 5″ when quarter-folded; luncheon napkins of 13″ x 13″ when fully laid out flat, 6.5″ x 6.5″ when quarter-folded; dinner napkins of between 16 inches by 16 inches and 22 inches by 22 inches when fully laid out; and dispenser napkins of 6.5″ x 5″.

You can also check out the diagram below to get the size chart for some popular types of napkins.

Napkin Sizes

Beverage Napkins

A beverage napkin, often used at bars and restaurants, is designed to be placed under a drink or cocktail glass. It serves to absorb any drips or condensation, ensuring that the surface remains clean and dry. Additionally, these napkins can be utilized to gently dab the sides of one’s mouth, removing any drink residue.

Wait staff may also use beverage napkins for carrying plates and other serving dishes, helping to prevent the transfer of germs and protect their hands from hot surfaces.

The size of a beverage napkin will be 10 inches by 10 inches when laid out flat, but they come pre-folded in a quarter fold, so the final dimensions are 5 inches by 5 inches.

Luncheon Napkins

These napkins are also usually made from paper and are single-use napkins. They are a little larger than beverage napkins and are popularly used for children’s birthday parties. They are great for serving small slices of cake and for wiping children’s hands after they have eaten a light meal.

These napkins, when folded out, fully measure 13 inches by 13 inches; however, when you buy a pack of luncheon napkins, they will already be folded in a quarter fold, resulting in final dimensions of 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches.

Dinner Napkins

Dinner napkins are typically reusable and made from fabric, unlike other paper-based disposable napkins. Their sizes can vary, ranging from 16 inches by 16 inches to 22 inches by 22 inches when fully laid out. Since these napkins are fabric, they don’t come pre-folded, allowing for creative folding designs at your discretion.

The smaller size options for dinner napkins are usually 16 x 16, 17 x 17, or 18 x 18 inches. These sizes are suitable for encasing cutlery or folding underneath it at a place setting. The more formal the dinner event, the larger the napkins should be, with a napkin measuring up to 22×22 inches, indicating a highly prestigious dining experience.

These larger dinner napkins can accommodate intricate folds, displayed on top of a plate at the place setting, and provide ample coverage for a person’s lap during the meal. This added coverage is especially important at formal events where guests wear expensive clothing and want to protect their attire.

Utilizing fabric dinner napkins in dining environments is often more economical, as they can be laundered and reused instead of discarding single-use napkins. In-home settings, these reusable napkins convey a sense of class and elegance to dinner guests, enhancing the overall dining experience. In some cases, dinner napkins may also be available in rectangular shapes, folded in half rather than into quarters. However, these shapes are less common compared to the square varieties. 

Dispenser Napkins

Dispenser napkins are widely found in diners or fast-food restaurants. They are held in metal tabletop dispensers which allow people to easily grab one with one hand. They are useful because the staff will routinely refill the dispensers rather than have to dish out individual napkins for each customer.

It also means that customers have the freedom to grab just one napkin or several napkins depending on their needs, rather than having to approach staff and ask for additional napkins. These napkins have an industry-wide standard size so that any dispenser napkin will be compatible with any dispenser. They will be made from paper and can be printed with the restaurant’s logo on or bought in any color. These have a slightly rectangular shape and dimensions of 6.5 inches by 5 inches when folded.

Using Napkins for Decoration

Using Napkins for Decoration

Napkins can serve multiple purposes at a dinner table, including keeping clothes clean and complementing the dining room’s aesthetic. To achieve a cohesive look, choose fabric napkins that match the color scheme of the room, such as incorporating similar wall colors or accessories. Patterned napkins can also add visual interest by combining multiple colors from the dining room’s palette.

Even without advanced folding skills, napkins can still enhance the table setting. Here are some simple yet effective ways to use napkins:

  • Quarter-fold: Fold a napkin in half and then in half again, creating a square that can be placed on top of a plate.
  • Cutlery pouch: Fold a napkin in a specific manner to create a pocket where silverware can be inserted.
  • Cutlery wrap: Wrap silverware inside the napkin and place it beside the plate.

For those looking to impress their guests with more intricate napkin folds, various YouTube tutorials can provide step-by-step instructions.