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 They were $42 and somehow felt like the perfect gift, so out-of-date and out of touch as to make them just right.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
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.
I got these for a friend whose birthday is Cinco de Mayo.
These felt sort of country appropriate for a friend in Connecticut.
I love these faux Porthault little roselets. They were perfect for a WASPy friend who likes to have parties in her garden.
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.
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.
I just love these so much. I got Oprah for a friend who got particularly worked up about the Oprah 2020 mania.
Full disclosure, I got these for myself. They’re simple, but the detailing is so pretty, and I like the rectangle shape.
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
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.’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.
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.
I just can’t stand how pretty these are. What a perfect present … for myself!
If you want to go custom, these are just about the chicest.
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