Set the Table, Napkin First

You may not have given them much thought before, but you will now. Your dinner parties (and cocktail parties, and brunches, and movie nights!) have been waiting.

Every good meal starts with a napkin: picking it up off your plate, unfolding it, and placing it over your lap. So some (cough, us) would argue that the napkin is the most important part of the meal—greeting the guests and setting the tone. Keep spirits high (and your hosting skills sharp) by having a cute or quirky set of napkins on hand to pull out at a moment's notice. Awed guests and overflowing compliments guaranteed.

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For the Garden Party

Inbjudande, $2 for 30, http://www.ikea.com.

For napkins you can toss without a second thought, opt for a pack that gives you the most bang for your buck.

For the Summer BBQ

Vintage Backyard Brunch Napkins, $17, modcloth.com.


Nothing says "pinkies up!" like delicate embroidery.

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Petaled Echo Napkin, $20 for 2, minted.com.


This napkin set has matching flower-print placemats for maximum floral impact.

Watermelon Paper Napkins, $6, landofnod.com.

Name one thing more summery than a watermelon. You can't! Watermelons win every time.

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Ghana Block Orange and Blue Medallion Print Napkins, $25, bigbluemoma.com.


The key to conquering a BBQ? Loud prints and bold colors. No one will notice a little sauce here and there on a graphic block print.

Linen Stripe Napkin, $18, shopterrain.com.


These hand-woven textiles made in Lithuania have a rustic "home on the range" vibe—perfect for a outdoor summer fete.

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For the Fancy Cocktail Hour

Liam Grey Striped Linen Cloth Napkin, $10, crateandbarrel.com.


Keep things classy and tasteful with a simple striped print.

Modern Dots Napkin, $48, food52.com.

A sophisticated, geometric print adds a bit of flair to the ink-dyed linen.

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Linen Cocktail Napkin Set, $25, sideshowpress.com.


Fun party game: Match the adjectives with the guests!

For the Funky Fiesta

Frida Kahlo Napkin, $35, etsy.com.


Frida Kahlo and her parrots will get any party started.

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