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For a cute, country touch to your dinner table, use colorful bandannas for napkins. We used to use a roll of paper towels, instead of paper napkins, but then I discovered how inexpensive bandannas are, when purchased through online websites. Buy the heavy-use ones by the dozen, they're less than 50 cents apiece that way!
The 20 inch ones are more than large enough for every contingency. I have a toddler, so I can say this with complete confidence. They're also a wonderful way to decorate with seasonal colors, since they come in every color of the rainbow. Bandannas, as napkins, are kind to the earth, too; a great "green" alternative to paper towels, or the disposable kind!
Source: I came up with this one on my own, after reading about the carbon footprint of these kinds of paper products. Also, from reading about the toxins in them. (Plus, paper towels and napkins are getting spendy!)
By Leopardstripes from Boise, ID
I collect cloth napkins from yard sales. It's surprising how many are brand new, and people just don't want to be bothered using them.
I also do this but take it a step farther. Everyone in the family uses a different color so we all know who's is what color. Since many meals are not messy and do not require the napkins to be washed after each meal, we can reuse them for several days before needing washing. They can simply be reused according to color and you know that person has their own napkin!
Bandanas are a great idea for napkins. I have a lot of cook-outs and we eat at my picnic table. Instead of using a regular tablecloth on the picnic table, I bought several large bandanas and sewed them together. Voila! country-style tablecloth! When done with the cookout, just throw in the washing machine and it's ready to use again. Depending on the size of your table, you could use anywhere from 12-20 bandanas - use your imagination.
I made 64 cloth napkins out of an old sheet we never used. I have two babies in the house during the day and use these exclusively (not including diaper changes -- their moms buy wipes).
Sheets are the cheapest way to get cloth napkins. I used pinking shears, so there was no sewing involved.