Monday, September 12, 2011

Cloth napkins are not just for holidays and dinner parties

I did not grow up around paper napkins. In college, when I moved into my first apartment, I got cloth napkins. It just never occurred to me NOT to. Paper napkins are for fast food and picnics.

But when I moved away from the South, I started to realize that lots of people actually use paper napkins every day. In their HOMES! It’s a little shocking. I mean, I’m all about simple living, BUT paper napkins at the kitchen table makes me kind of sad.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Using cloth napkins for everyday meals is not just for fancy people with no job and lots of hired help. They're not expensive or a lot of trouble.

You can get fun colors or prints that brighten up the kitchen table and make a home-cooked meal seem even more homey. Plus, cloth napkins just feel nicer than paper.  

These Williams-Sonoma table linens make a very pretty table!
And they do NOT have to be fancy or expensive. I’ve always been able to find cute napkins for just a couple of dollars each, and they last for years (seriously, I have some that we’ve used on a daily basis for 10 years!). When you think about it long term, paper napkins are really the expensive option. This look from Williams-Sonoma is beautiful—and expensive—but you can get something similar at Target for just $2.50. 

These napkins from Target are similar but more affordable (4 for $10). 
You can also find some great things at discount stores like TJ Maxx and Steinmart, or on sale at places like Crate and Barrel. Just keep your eyes open.

If you can sew, there’s nothing easier than making napkins—all you have to do is cut the squares and finish the edges. One day I made a set of napkins for a dinner party I was having the same night! No kidding.

Now, for the simplicity part. Listen carefully. 
It is NOT a lot of trouble to take care of cloth napkins. Sure, you have to add them to the laundry pile, but the reality is that the size of your loads won’t change much. You’ll have to fold them, but it might take a total of 5 minutes. Plus, you can teach your kids to do it (this was Little One’s job when he was 4)!

And don’t even think about ironing. We’re talking about weekday family meals. Just take the napkins out of the dryer, smooth them out, and fold them. Good enough.

If you don’t have a spare drawer to keep them in, just use a cute basket. Or put them wherever it is you’re storing those mountains of disposable napkins.

Just think of all the paper you’ll save and the trash you’ll keep out of the landfill! Saving the planet (and probably a little money), AND enjoying your meals more. Win–win.

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