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What to Do With Your Napkin at a Nice Dinner Party Is Much More Complicated Than You Think

What to Do With Your Napkin at a Nice Dinner Party Is Much More Complicated Than You Think


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For something that gets dirty quickly, there sure are a lot of rules

Don't know what to do with this napkin? We've got your back.

For something that’s meant to be a buffer between your clothing and spilled food, there sure are a lot of etiquette rules when it comes to the humble napkin. Though it seems like it should be as easy as tossing the cloth into your lap and never thinking about it again, there are small nuances about when to place the napkin into your lap, how to act when you rise from the table, and even the manner in which you should wipe your mouth.

Though it all may seem like a bit much for something that will just be (gently) tossed to the side at the end of the meal, if you want to be the most polite guest possible, you should know how to function at a nice dinner party.

When to Place the Napkin on Your Lap
Most people already know that the polite thing to do while dining is to place the napkin on your lap, but there’s a little more to it than simply throwing a piece of cloth onto your thighs. Placing the napkin in your lap as soon as you sit down says that you’re anxious to start the meal, so hold off and wait until two or three members of your dining party are also sitting at the table. If you’re sitting at a formal table with a proper host, wait until your host sits down and places the napkin in his or her lap, then follow suit.

To Fold or Not to Fold…
Should you completely unfold the napkin or leave it halfway folded? The answer lies in the size of the cloth. Large napkins are unfolded halfway, while smaller napkins should be unfolded completely. Basically, ensure that the cloth covers your entire lap but doesn’t hang down to your knees. Most importantly, when placing the napkin in your lap, don’t snap it or make a big to-do about unfolding the napkin. Just unfold it with small, natural movements.

Blot, Don’t Wipe
A napkin sits on your lap to catch crumbs and small drops of liquid, of course, but it’s also there to ensure that your face is kept clean. When you do raise the napkin to your mouth, it’s important that you blot the area gently. You’re (likely) not eating messy barbecue ribs, so you don’t need to wipe your entire face.

What to Do When You Get Up

There’s a point of contention here: If you need to get up from the table to use the restroom or take a phone call, some etiquette experts advise that you hide the napkin and place it on the seat of your chair. Others think that it’s perfectly acceptable to loosely fold the napkin and set it to the left of your fork. Judge the fanciness of your dinner party for yourself. If it’s an incredibly formal affair, gently place the napkin on your chair. Otherwise, the table is more than fine. At the end of the meal, gently fold the napkin and place it on the table to the left of your plate.

Things You Should Never, Ever Do Under Any Circumstances Ever
We’ve been through what to do with your napkin, but you should know what not to do as well. It should go without saying, but your napkin is not a tissue and shouldn’t be used as such. Don’t blow your nose or spit into the cloth — all you’ll accomplish is grossing out your dining partners. And unless you’re at an all-you-can-eat lobster boil, for goodness’ sake, don’t tuck your napkin into your shirt collar. Bibs are suitable for babies, not for formal diners.


I Found a TV Tray Worthy of Prestige Television

All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

When I was a kid, getting out the folding TV trays felt as rare and as special as a snow day. We were a "dinner around the table every night" family, and one not especially keen on television, so eating on the TV trays felt like getting away with something. You're probably already picturing the TV trays my family had—a set of four folding wooden tables in a honey blonde stain that were stored on a matching rack. They took up too much real estate, were too heavy, were decidedly ugly, and—to my developing brain—were perfect.

But that was a long time ago. Now I'm an adult with my own TV, my own style, and my own TV-eating rules. Sadly, I'm also an adult lacking the regular dinner ritual I grew up with. My boyfriend is co-owner/operator of a restaurant, and as you can imagine, giving customers a nice dinner experience doesn't leave much time to cultivate your own. I still cook for us, but those dinners tend to happen late at night. I'm still doing real cooking and I still want to sit at a real table, but I really don't have the time to do it all. We have approximately an hour of free time after the restaurant closes and before we both pass out. That's one hour for tv and dinner, and buddy, there's a whole lot of prestige TV to watch.

So I set out to find a TV tray that fit my lifestyle—and my living-room style. Those wooden trays I grew up with? They're so clunky, they're almost chic again in a so-wrong-it's-right kinda way. But much like the oversized, ugly sneaker trend the fashion world is (mercifully) moving on from, those wooden trays are just too damn big. I live in Brooklyn, where space is so limited I have to keep my sock count to a minimum.

The options available to me on Amazon fell into two categories: "Way Too Whimsical" and "Office-Supply Store Eleganza". Next I tried my luck with the vintage section on Etsy. And while I found some cute and colorful lap trays, I needed something with legs. Even though I'm streaming while dining, I still set out a cloth napkin and a wine glass. (Sorry, I didn't ask to be this way!)

The real break in my search came when I started searching for "folding tables." After sifting through larger folding tables meant for card games and church potlucks, I found it⁠—my TV table. Designed by spouses Robert and Cortney Novogratz, CB2's Novo Acrylic Folding Table is more furniture than TV novelty. With brushed brass legs and a clear lucite tabletop, it mixes function with just a little bit of camp. Ok, maybe more than a little bit, but that's what I love about it. What I also love is that the Novo easily folds up, but is substantial and sturdy when it's upright. It's substantial both structurally and visually. When I'm not eating Instant Pot ribs in the warm glow of my TV, the Novo looks great as a side table, or as a mini-bar at a house party. You could even use it to set an extra place setting for a big dinner party or at Thanksgiving. It's a folding table you don't really want to store in the closet. (Though again, you could.)

I understand that some people might balk at $149 for a TV table, but think of it this way: this is my dining room table. Plus, it's a steal when you consider it next to the Charles Hollis Jones folding tables on 1stDibs I really want.


I Found a TV Tray Worthy of Prestige Television

All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

When I was a kid, getting out the folding TV trays felt as rare and as special as a snow day. We were a "dinner around the table every night" family, and one not especially keen on television, so eating on the TV trays felt like getting away with something. You're probably already picturing the TV trays my family had—a set of four folding wooden tables in a honey blonde stain that were stored on a matching rack. They took up too much real estate, were too heavy, were decidedly ugly, and—to my developing brain—were perfect.

But that was a long time ago. Now I'm an adult with my own TV, my own style, and my own TV-eating rules. Sadly, I'm also an adult lacking the regular dinner ritual I grew up with. My boyfriend is co-owner/operator of a restaurant, and as you can imagine, giving customers a nice dinner experience doesn't leave much time to cultivate your own. I still cook for us, but those dinners tend to happen late at night. I'm still doing real cooking and I still want to sit at a real table, but I really don't have the time to do it all. We have approximately an hour of free time after the restaurant closes and before we both pass out. That's one hour for tv and dinner, and buddy, there's a whole lot of prestige TV to watch.

So I set out to find a TV tray that fit my lifestyle—and my living-room style. Those wooden trays I grew up with? They're so clunky, they're almost chic again in a so-wrong-it's-right kinda way. But much like the oversized, ugly sneaker trend the fashion world is (mercifully) moving on from, those wooden trays are just too damn big. I live in Brooklyn, where space is so limited I have to keep my sock count to a minimum.

The options available to me on Amazon fell into two categories: "Way Too Whimsical" and "Office-Supply Store Eleganza". Next I tried my luck with the vintage section on Etsy. And while I found some cute and colorful lap trays, I needed something with legs. Even though I'm streaming while dining, I still set out a cloth napkin and a wine glass. (Sorry, I didn't ask to be this way!)

The real break in my search came when I started searching for "folding tables." After sifting through larger folding tables meant for card games and church potlucks, I found it⁠—my TV table. Designed by spouses Robert and Cortney Novogratz, CB2's Novo Acrylic Folding Table is more furniture than TV novelty. With brushed brass legs and a clear lucite tabletop, it mixes function with just a little bit of camp. Ok, maybe more than a little bit, but that's what I love about it. What I also love is that the Novo easily folds up, but is substantial and sturdy when it's upright. It's substantial both structurally and visually. When I'm not eating Instant Pot ribs in the warm glow of my TV, the Novo looks great as a side table, or as a mini-bar at a house party. You could even use it to set an extra place setting for a big dinner party or at Thanksgiving. It's a folding table you don't really want to store in the closet. (Though again, you could.)

I understand that some people might balk at $149 for a TV table, but think of it this way: this is my dining room table. Plus, it's a steal when you consider it next to the Charles Hollis Jones folding tables on 1stDibs I really want.


I Found a TV Tray Worthy of Prestige Television

All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

When I was a kid, getting out the folding TV trays felt as rare and as special as a snow day. We were a "dinner around the table every night" family, and one not especially keen on television, so eating on the TV trays felt like getting away with something. You're probably already picturing the TV trays my family had—a set of four folding wooden tables in a honey blonde stain that were stored on a matching rack. They took up too much real estate, were too heavy, were decidedly ugly, and—to my developing brain—were perfect.

But that was a long time ago. Now I'm an adult with my own TV, my own style, and my own TV-eating rules. Sadly, I'm also an adult lacking the regular dinner ritual I grew up with. My boyfriend is co-owner/operator of a restaurant, and as you can imagine, giving customers a nice dinner experience doesn't leave much time to cultivate your own. I still cook for us, but those dinners tend to happen late at night. I'm still doing real cooking and I still want to sit at a real table, but I really don't have the time to do it all. We have approximately an hour of free time after the restaurant closes and before we both pass out. That's one hour for tv and dinner, and buddy, there's a whole lot of prestige TV to watch.

So I set out to find a TV tray that fit my lifestyle—and my living-room style. Those wooden trays I grew up with? They're so clunky, they're almost chic again in a so-wrong-it's-right kinda way. But much like the oversized, ugly sneaker trend the fashion world is (mercifully) moving on from, those wooden trays are just too damn big. I live in Brooklyn, where space is so limited I have to keep my sock count to a minimum.

The options available to me on Amazon fell into two categories: "Way Too Whimsical" and "Office-Supply Store Eleganza". Next I tried my luck with the vintage section on Etsy. And while I found some cute and colorful lap trays, I needed something with legs. Even though I'm streaming while dining, I still set out a cloth napkin and a wine glass. (Sorry, I didn't ask to be this way!)

The real break in my search came when I started searching for "folding tables." After sifting through larger folding tables meant for card games and church potlucks, I found it⁠—my TV table. Designed by spouses Robert and Cortney Novogratz, CB2's Novo Acrylic Folding Table is more furniture than TV novelty. With brushed brass legs and a clear lucite tabletop, it mixes function with just a little bit of camp. Ok, maybe more than a little bit, but that's what I love about it. What I also love is that the Novo easily folds up, but is substantial and sturdy when it's upright. It's substantial both structurally and visually. When I'm not eating Instant Pot ribs in the warm glow of my TV, the Novo looks great as a side table, or as a mini-bar at a house party. You could even use it to set an extra place setting for a big dinner party or at Thanksgiving. It's a folding table you don't really want to store in the closet. (Though again, you could.)

I understand that some people might balk at $149 for a TV table, but think of it this way: this is my dining room table. Plus, it's a steal when you consider it next to the Charles Hollis Jones folding tables on 1stDibs I really want.


I Found a TV Tray Worthy of Prestige Television

All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

When I was a kid, getting out the folding TV trays felt as rare and as special as a snow day. We were a "dinner around the table every night" family, and one not especially keen on television, so eating on the TV trays felt like getting away with something. You're probably already picturing the TV trays my family had—a set of four folding wooden tables in a honey blonde stain that were stored on a matching rack. They took up too much real estate, were too heavy, were decidedly ugly, and—to my developing brain—were perfect.

But that was a long time ago. Now I'm an adult with my own TV, my own style, and my own TV-eating rules. Sadly, I'm also an adult lacking the regular dinner ritual I grew up with. My boyfriend is co-owner/operator of a restaurant, and as you can imagine, giving customers a nice dinner experience doesn't leave much time to cultivate your own. I still cook for us, but those dinners tend to happen late at night. I'm still doing real cooking and I still want to sit at a real table, but I really don't have the time to do it all. We have approximately an hour of free time after the restaurant closes and before we both pass out. That's one hour for tv and dinner, and buddy, there's a whole lot of prestige TV to watch.

So I set out to find a TV tray that fit my lifestyle—and my living-room style. Those wooden trays I grew up with? They're so clunky, they're almost chic again in a so-wrong-it's-right kinda way. But much like the oversized, ugly sneaker trend the fashion world is (mercifully) moving on from, those wooden trays are just too damn big. I live in Brooklyn, where space is so limited I have to keep my sock count to a minimum.

The options available to me on Amazon fell into two categories: "Way Too Whimsical" and "Office-Supply Store Eleganza". Next I tried my luck with the vintage section on Etsy. And while I found some cute and colorful lap trays, I needed something with legs. Even though I'm streaming while dining, I still set out a cloth napkin and a wine glass. (Sorry, I didn't ask to be this way!)

The real break in my search came when I started searching for "folding tables." After sifting through larger folding tables meant for card games and church potlucks, I found it⁠—my TV table. Designed by spouses Robert and Cortney Novogratz, CB2's Novo Acrylic Folding Table is more furniture than TV novelty. With brushed brass legs and a clear lucite tabletop, it mixes function with just a little bit of camp. Ok, maybe more than a little bit, but that's what I love about it. What I also love is that the Novo easily folds up, but is substantial and sturdy when it's upright. It's substantial both structurally and visually. When I'm not eating Instant Pot ribs in the warm glow of my TV, the Novo looks great as a side table, or as a mini-bar at a house party. You could even use it to set an extra place setting for a big dinner party or at Thanksgiving. It's a folding table you don't really want to store in the closet. (Though again, you could.)

I understand that some people might balk at $149 for a TV table, but think of it this way: this is my dining room table. Plus, it's a steal when you consider it next to the Charles Hollis Jones folding tables on 1stDibs I really want.


I Found a TV Tray Worthy of Prestige Television

All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

When I was a kid, getting out the folding TV trays felt as rare and as special as a snow day. We were a "dinner around the table every night" family, and one not especially keen on television, so eating on the TV trays felt like getting away with something. You're probably already picturing the TV trays my family had—a set of four folding wooden tables in a honey blonde stain that were stored on a matching rack. They took up too much real estate, were too heavy, were decidedly ugly, and—to my developing brain—were perfect.

But that was a long time ago. Now I'm an adult with my own TV, my own style, and my own TV-eating rules. Sadly, I'm also an adult lacking the regular dinner ritual I grew up with. My boyfriend is co-owner/operator of a restaurant, and as you can imagine, giving customers a nice dinner experience doesn't leave much time to cultivate your own. I still cook for us, but those dinners tend to happen late at night. I'm still doing real cooking and I still want to sit at a real table, but I really don't have the time to do it all. We have approximately an hour of free time after the restaurant closes and before we both pass out. That's one hour for tv and dinner, and buddy, there's a whole lot of prestige TV to watch.

So I set out to find a TV tray that fit my lifestyle—and my living-room style. Those wooden trays I grew up with? They're so clunky, they're almost chic again in a so-wrong-it's-right kinda way. But much like the oversized, ugly sneaker trend the fashion world is (mercifully) moving on from, those wooden trays are just too damn big. I live in Brooklyn, where space is so limited I have to keep my sock count to a minimum.

The options available to me on Amazon fell into two categories: "Way Too Whimsical" and "Office-Supply Store Eleganza". Next I tried my luck with the vintage section on Etsy. And while I found some cute and colorful lap trays, I needed something with legs. Even though I'm streaming while dining, I still set out a cloth napkin and a wine glass. (Sorry, I didn't ask to be this way!)

The real break in my search came when I started searching for "folding tables." After sifting through larger folding tables meant for card games and church potlucks, I found it⁠—my TV table. Designed by spouses Robert and Cortney Novogratz, CB2's Novo Acrylic Folding Table is more furniture than TV novelty. With brushed brass legs and a clear lucite tabletop, it mixes function with just a little bit of camp. Ok, maybe more than a little bit, but that's what I love about it. What I also love is that the Novo easily folds up, but is substantial and sturdy when it's upright. It's substantial both structurally and visually. When I'm not eating Instant Pot ribs in the warm glow of my TV, the Novo looks great as a side table, or as a mini-bar at a house party. You could even use it to set an extra place setting for a big dinner party or at Thanksgiving. It's a folding table you don't really want to store in the closet. (Though again, you could.)

I understand that some people might balk at $149 for a TV table, but think of it this way: this is my dining room table. Plus, it's a steal when you consider it next to the Charles Hollis Jones folding tables on 1stDibs I really want.


I Found a TV Tray Worthy of Prestige Television

All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

When I was a kid, getting out the folding TV trays felt as rare and as special as a snow day. We were a "dinner around the table every night" family, and one not especially keen on television, so eating on the TV trays felt like getting away with something. You're probably already picturing the TV trays my family had—a set of four folding wooden tables in a honey blonde stain that were stored on a matching rack. They took up too much real estate, were too heavy, were decidedly ugly, and—to my developing brain—were perfect.

But that was a long time ago. Now I'm an adult with my own TV, my own style, and my own TV-eating rules. Sadly, I'm also an adult lacking the regular dinner ritual I grew up with. My boyfriend is co-owner/operator of a restaurant, and as you can imagine, giving customers a nice dinner experience doesn't leave much time to cultivate your own. I still cook for us, but those dinners tend to happen late at night. I'm still doing real cooking and I still want to sit at a real table, but I really don't have the time to do it all. We have approximately an hour of free time after the restaurant closes and before we both pass out. That's one hour for tv and dinner, and buddy, there's a whole lot of prestige TV to watch.

So I set out to find a TV tray that fit my lifestyle—and my living-room style. Those wooden trays I grew up with? They're so clunky, they're almost chic again in a so-wrong-it's-right kinda way. But much like the oversized, ugly sneaker trend the fashion world is (mercifully) moving on from, those wooden trays are just too damn big. I live in Brooklyn, where space is so limited I have to keep my sock count to a minimum.

The options available to me on Amazon fell into two categories: "Way Too Whimsical" and "Office-Supply Store Eleganza". Next I tried my luck with the vintage section on Etsy. And while I found some cute and colorful lap trays, I needed something with legs. Even though I'm streaming while dining, I still set out a cloth napkin and a wine glass. (Sorry, I didn't ask to be this way!)

The real break in my search came when I started searching for "folding tables." After sifting through larger folding tables meant for card games and church potlucks, I found it⁠—my TV table. Designed by spouses Robert and Cortney Novogratz, CB2's Novo Acrylic Folding Table is more furniture than TV novelty. With brushed brass legs and a clear lucite tabletop, it mixes function with just a little bit of camp. Ok, maybe more than a little bit, but that's what I love about it. What I also love is that the Novo easily folds up, but is substantial and sturdy when it's upright. It's substantial both structurally and visually. When I'm not eating Instant Pot ribs in the warm glow of my TV, the Novo looks great as a side table, or as a mini-bar at a house party. You could even use it to set an extra place setting for a big dinner party or at Thanksgiving. It's a folding table you don't really want to store in the closet. (Though again, you could.)

I understand that some people might balk at $149 for a TV table, but think of it this way: this is my dining room table. Plus, it's a steal when you consider it next to the Charles Hollis Jones folding tables on 1stDibs I really want.


I Found a TV Tray Worthy of Prestige Television

All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

When I was a kid, getting out the folding TV trays felt as rare and as special as a snow day. We were a "dinner around the table every night" family, and one not especially keen on television, so eating on the TV trays felt like getting away with something. You're probably already picturing the TV trays my family had—a set of four folding wooden tables in a honey blonde stain that were stored on a matching rack. They took up too much real estate, were too heavy, were decidedly ugly, and—to my developing brain—were perfect.

But that was a long time ago. Now I'm an adult with my own TV, my own style, and my own TV-eating rules. Sadly, I'm also an adult lacking the regular dinner ritual I grew up with. My boyfriend is co-owner/operator of a restaurant, and as you can imagine, giving customers a nice dinner experience doesn't leave much time to cultivate your own. I still cook for us, but those dinners tend to happen late at night. I'm still doing real cooking and I still want to sit at a real table, but I really don't have the time to do it all. We have approximately an hour of free time after the restaurant closes and before we both pass out. That's one hour for tv and dinner, and buddy, there's a whole lot of prestige TV to watch.

So I set out to find a TV tray that fit my lifestyle—and my living-room style. Those wooden trays I grew up with? They're so clunky, they're almost chic again in a so-wrong-it's-right kinda way. But much like the oversized, ugly sneaker trend the fashion world is (mercifully) moving on from, those wooden trays are just too damn big. I live in Brooklyn, where space is so limited I have to keep my sock count to a minimum.

The options available to me on Amazon fell into two categories: "Way Too Whimsical" and "Office-Supply Store Eleganza". Next I tried my luck with the vintage section on Etsy. And while I found some cute and colorful lap trays, I needed something with legs. Even though I'm streaming while dining, I still set out a cloth napkin and a wine glass. (Sorry, I didn't ask to be this way!)

The real break in my search came when I started searching for "folding tables." After sifting through larger folding tables meant for card games and church potlucks, I found it⁠—my TV table. Designed by spouses Robert and Cortney Novogratz, CB2's Novo Acrylic Folding Table is more furniture than TV novelty. With brushed brass legs and a clear lucite tabletop, it mixes function with just a little bit of camp. Ok, maybe more than a little bit, but that's what I love about it. What I also love is that the Novo easily folds up, but is substantial and sturdy when it's upright. It's substantial both structurally and visually. When I'm not eating Instant Pot ribs in the warm glow of my TV, the Novo looks great as a side table, or as a mini-bar at a house party. You could even use it to set an extra place setting for a big dinner party or at Thanksgiving. It's a folding table you don't really want to store in the closet. (Though again, you could.)

I understand that some people might balk at $149 for a TV table, but think of it this way: this is my dining room table. Plus, it's a steal when you consider it next to the Charles Hollis Jones folding tables on 1stDibs I really want.


I Found a TV Tray Worthy of Prestige Television

All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

When I was a kid, getting out the folding TV trays felt as rare and as special as a snow day. We were a "dinner around the table every night" family, and one not especially keen on television, so eating on the TV trays felt like getting away with something. You're probably already picturing the TV trays my family had—a set of four folding wooden tables in a honey blonde stain that were stored on a matching rack. They took up too much real estate, were too heavy, were decidedly ugly, and—to my developing brain—were perfect.

But that was a long time ago. Now I'm an adult with my own TV, my own style, and my own TV-eating rules. Sadly, I'm also an adult lacking the regular dinner ritual I grew up with. My boyfriend is co-owner/operator of a restaurant, and as you can imagine, giving customers a nice dinner experience doesn't leave much time to cultivate your own. I still cook for us, but those dinners tend to happen late at night. I'm still doing real cooking and I still want to sit at a real table, but I really don't have the time to do it all. We have approximately an hour of free time after the restaurant closes and before we both pass out. That's one hour for tv and dinner, and buddy, there's a whole lot of prestige TV to watch.

So I set out to find a TV tray that fit my lifestyle—and my living-room style. Those wooden trays I grew up with? They're so clunky, they're almost chic again in a so-wrong-it's-right kinda way. But much like the oversized, ugly sneaker trend the fashion world is (mercifully) moving on from, those wooden trays are just too damn big. I live in Brooklyn, where space is so limited I have to keep my sock count to a minimum.

The options available to me on Amazon fell into two categories: "Way Too Whimsical" and "Office-Supply Store Eleganza". Next I tried my luck with the vintage section on Etsy. And while I found some cute and colorful lap trays, I needed something with legs. Even though I'm streaming while dining, I still set out a cloth napkin and a wine glass. (Sorry, I didn't ask to be this way!)

The real break in my search came when I started searching for "folding tables." After sifting through larger folding tables meant for card games and church potlucks, I found it⁠—my TV table. Designed by spouses Robert and Cortney Novogratz, CB2's Novo Acrylic Folding Table is more furniture than TV novelty. With brushed brass legs and a clear lucite tabletop, it mixes function with just a little bit of camp. Ok, maybe more than a little bit, but that's what I love about it. What I also love is that the Novo easily folds up, but is substantial and sturdy when it's upright. It's substantial both structurally and visually. When I'm not eating Instant Pot ribs in the warm glow of my TV, the Novo looks great as a side table, or as a mini-bar at a house party. You could even use it to set an extra place setting for a big dinner party or at Thanksgiving. It's a folding table you don't really want to store in the closet. (Though again, you could.)

I understand that some people might balk at $149 for a TV table, but think of it this way: this is my dining room table. Plus, it's a steal when you consider it next to the Charles Hollis Jones folding tables on 1stDibs I really want.


I Found a TV Tray Worthy of Prestige Television

All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

When I was a kid, getting out the folding TV trays felt as rare and as special as a snow day. We were a "dinner around the table every night" family, and one not especially keen on television, so eating on the TV trays felt like getting away with something. You're probably already picturing the TV trays my family had—a set of four folding wooden tables in a honey blonde stain that were stored on a matching rack. They took up too much real estate, were too heavy, were decidedly ugly, and—to my developing brain—were perfect.

But that was a long time ago. Now I'm an adult with my own TV, my own style, and my own TV-eating rules. Sadly, I'm also an adult lacking the regular dinner ritual I grew up with. My boyfriend is co-owner/operator of a restaurant, and as you can imagine, giving customers a nice dinner experience doesn't leave much time to cultivate your own. I still cook for us, but those dinners tend to happen late at night. I'm still doing real cooking and I still want to sit at a real table, but I really don't have the time to do it all. We have approximately an hour of free time after the restaurant closes and before we both pass out. That's one hour for tv and dinner, and buddy, there's a whole lot of prestige TV to watch.

So I set out to find a TV tray that fit my lifestyle—and my living-room style. Those wooden trays I grew up with? They're so clunky, they're almost chic again in a so-wrong-it's-right kinda way. But much like the oversized, ugly sneaker trend the fashion world is (mercifully) moving on from, those wooden trays are just too damn big. I live in Brooklyn, where space is so limited I have to keep my sock count to a minimum.

The options available to me on Amazon fell into two categories: "Way Too Whimsical" and "Office-Supply Store Eleganza". Next I tried my luck with the vintage section on Etsy. And while I found some cute and colorful lap trays, I needed something with legs. Even though I'm streaming while dining, I still set out a cloth napkin and a wine glass. (Sorry, I didn't ask to be this way!)

The real break in my search came when I started searching for "folding tables." After sifting through larger folding tables meant for card games and church potlucks, I found it⁠—my TV table. Designed by spouses Robert and Cortney Novogratz, CB2's Novo Acrylic Folding Table is more furniture than TV novelty. With brushed brass legs and a clear lucite tabletop, it mixes function with just a little bit of camp. Ok, maybe more than a little bit, but that's what I love about it. What I also love is that the Novo easily folds up, but is substantial and sturdy when it's upright. It's substantial both structurally and visually. When I'm not eating Instant Pot ribs in the warm glow of my TV, the Novo looks great as a side table, or as a mini-bar at a house party. You could even use it to set an extra place setting for a big dinner party or at Thanksgiving. It's a folding table you don't really want to store in the closet. (Though again, you could.)

I understand that some people might balk at $149 for a TV table, but think of it this way: this is my dining room table. Plus, it's a steal when you consider it next to the Charles Hollis Jones folding tables on 1stDibs I really want.


I Found a TV Tray Worthy of Prestige Television

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When I was a kid, getting out the folding TV trays felt as rare and as special as a snow day. We were a "dinner around the table every night" family, and one not especially keen on television, so eating on the TV trays felt like getting away with something. You're probably already picturing the TV trays my family had—a set of four folding wooden tables in a honey blonde stain that were stored on a matching rack. They took up too much real estate, were too heavy, were decidedly ugly, and—to my developing brain—were perfect.

But that was a long time ago. Now I'm an adult with my own TV, my own style, and my own TV-eating rules. Sadly, I'm also an adult lacking the regular dinner ritual I grew up with. My boyfriend is co-owner/operator of a restaurant, and as you can imagine, giving customers a nice dinner experience doesn't leave much time to cultivate your own. I still cook for us, but those dinners tend to happen late at night. I'm still doing real cooking and I still want to sit at a real table, but I really don't have the time to do it all. We have approximately an hour of free time after the restaurant closes and before we both pass out. That's one hour for tv and dinner, and buddy, there's a whole lot of prestige TV to watch.

So I set out to find a TV tray that fit my lifestyle—and my living-room style. Those wooden trays I grew up with? They're so clunky, they're almost chic again in a so-wrong-it's-right kinda way. But much like the oversized, ugly sneaker trend the fashion world is (mercifully) moving on from, those wooden trays are just too damn big. I live in Brooklyn, where space is so limited I have to keep my sock count to a minimum.

The options available to me on Amazon fell into two categories: "Way Too Whimsical" and "Office-Supply Store Eleganza". Next I tried my luck with the vintage section on Etsy. And while I found some cute and colorful lap trays, I needed something with legs. Even though I'm streaming while dining, I still set out a cloth napkin and a wine glass. (Sorry, I didn't ask to be this way!)

The real break in my search came when I started searching for "folding tables." After sifting through larger folding tables meant for card games and church potlucks, I found it⁠—my TV table. Designed by spouses Robert and Cortney Novogratz, CB2's Novo Acrylic Folding Table is more furniture than TV novelty. With brushed brass legs and a clear lucite tabletop, it mixes function with just a little bit of camp. Ok, maybe more than a little bit, but that's what I love about it. What I also love is that the Novo easily folds up, but is substantial and sturdy when it's upright. It's substantial both structurally and visually. When I'm not eating Instant Pot ribs in the warm glow of my TV, the Novo looks great as a side table, or as a mini-bar at a house party. You could even use it to set an extra place setting for a big dinner party or at Thanksgiving. It's a folding table you don't really want to store in the closet. (Though again, you could.)

I understand that some people might balk at $149 for a TV table, but think of it this way: this is my dining room table. Plus, it's a steal when you consider it next to the Charles Hollis Jones folding tables on 1stDibs I really want.


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