compulsive shopping

I Can’t Stop Buying Cocktail Napkins

Cocktail napkins I have gifted and others I have yet to gift. Photo: Courtesy the retailer

It started at William Wayne, that wonderful throwback interiors store with locations on University Place and Lexington Avenue. I was early for a meeting at nearby East Pole and went in to look for a hostess gift for a beautifully mannered friend who had invited my husband and me over for dinner that weekend. Maybe a small tray or a painted vintage glass? I didn’t want to spend more than $50, but wanted it to be thoughtful. Inside, I fell upon the most charming set of 12 cocktail napkins, crisp white linen with sky-blue Swiss dot embroidery and an embroidered scalloped edge. They were $42 and somehow felt like the perfect gift, so out-of-date and out of touch as to make them just right.

In fact, it was a Christmas gift of monogrammed cocktail napkins in mouse gray from another chic friend several years back that kindled my appreciation for the tiny squares of linen. They feel old-school and formal in a welcome way and can be used for so much more than cocktails — seltzer, hors d’oeuvres, to wipe a Brie-sticky finger from a cheese plate. There are quippy ones, traditional monogrammed ones, and exquisitely embroidered ones. The really beautiful ones tend to feel like a fortune, especially were you to break down cost per square inch, but for the right host or hostess they can be the perfect present — even better if that person is you.

Cocktail napkins I have gifted

August Morgan Thirsty Camel Cocktail Napkins
$40 for 4 at One Kings Lane

All of the August Morgan designs appeal to a shameless punthusiast like me. I love this camel one but find them all hard to resist.

Kim Seybert Otomi Cocktail Napkins
$63 for 6 at Neiman Marcus

I got these for a friend whose birthday is Cinco de Mayo.

Coral & Tusk Spring Cocktail Napkins
$80 at One Kings Lane

These felt sort of country appropriate for a friend in Connecticut.

Tory Burch Jardin Cocktail Napkins
$88 for 4 at Tory Burch

I love these faux Porthault little roselets. They were perfect for a WASPy friend who likes to have parties in her garden.

Monogrammed Linen Hemstitched Cocktail Napkins
$15 at Etsy

There are a lot of great embroidery vendors on Etsy that will do beautiful (and less-expensive cocktail napkins). I liked this store because of how many color arrangements it offered — it’s like the Nike “design your own sneaker” store.

Tory Burch Butterfly Batik Cocktail Napkins
$68 for 4 at Tory Burch

I brought these to a friend when we were invited to lunch at her house in Amagansett. They fit perfectly with her nuanced maritime theme.

Lettermade Oprah Cocktail Napkins
$48 for 4 at Lettermade

I just love these so much. I got Oprah for a friend who got particularly worked up about the Oprah 2020 mania.

Henry Handwork Doppio Estate White Linen Cocktail Napkin
$13 at Henry Handwork

Full disclosure, I got these for myself. They’re simple, but the detailing is so pretty, and I like the rectangle shape.

Henry Handwork Kiss Cocktail Napkins
$45 for 4 at Henry Handwork

Who can resist a kiss? I got these for a friend who always leaves lipstick marks on her wine glass, a detail I love about her.

Cocktail napkins I would like to gift

Los Encajeros Linen Cocktail Napkins
$175 for 4 at Moda Operandi

I just love how they fold in thirds like a letter. They come in four perfect Easter-egg shades that would be perfect to mix together. The linen and embroidery feel really luxurious. I would actually love to buy these for myself.

Julia B. Venezia Ceil Cocktail Napkins
$395 for 8 at Julia B.

Julia B.’s entire Italian collection is so beautiful, but these might be my favorites. I would love to get these as a wedding gift for someone.

Over the Moon Linen Cocktail Napkins
$160 for 4 at Over the Moon

I think this would make a lovely wedding or bridal-shower gift for a discerning bride. I love the six crest options: Out of Africa for the friend who is taking a safari honeymoon, La Dolce Vita for the Portofino destination wedding.

Julia B. Strawberries Cocktail Napkins
$365 for 8 at Julia B.

I just can’t stand how pretty these are. What a perfect present … for myself!

Leontine Linen Cocktail Napkins
Request price at Leontine Linens

If you want to go custom, these are just about the chicest.

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I Can’t Stop Buying Cocktail Napkins