It all depends on the atmosphere of your gathering. Here's how to pull them off with style.

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Blackberry Farm Fall Table Setting
Credit: Erica George Dines; Styling: Sam Beall

We'd never look down on paper napkins or shun their convenience factor. However, using them confidently during Thanksgiving takes a litte know-how. Here's your Thanksgiving dinner etiquette for using paper napkins.

Consider Your Occasion

Are you hosting a quiet dinner for four people, using fine china, crystal, and your sterling candlesticks? This is not the time to pull out the paper napkins. If you've gone this far to create such a nice dinner table, paper napkins – no matter how nice they are – will only bring down the look. Are you hosting a casual Thanksgiving potluck for sixty of your closest family members? Then yes, by all means, bring on the paper products! Do make sure that the paper products match or coordinate with one another.

Place them Appropriately

With paper napkins on an occasion like Thanksgiving, you need to embrace them. Don't do a full place setting with a paper napkin and plastic utensils. That will look forced. Instead, either roll the utensils into the napkin and tie the bundle with a ribbon or twine for a festive touch. You can place the rolled napkins on individual place settings or group them together arranged neatly in a basket for a pulled together, casual look.

Use a High Quality Paper Napkin

There could be differing schools of thought on how to judge a high quality or elegant paper napkin. I feel strongly that the quality of the napkin hinges squarely on how it feels and how it will hold up. The closest that your paper napkin feels to cloth – the better.

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While a turkey patterned Thanksgiving napkin may look cute and festive, if it can't handle a dribble of cranberry sauce then it's not worth buying. If you must have a turkey-patterned napkin, opt for turkey patterned cocktail napkins to serve with drinks and use the heavier-grade ones for the main course.