I have a bit of a thing for linen napkins: I like them to be clean, crisp and perfectly ironed. I think it comes from Sunday lunches at home when all the table paraphernalia was unleashed, in a bid to make at least one meal time of the week feel super special.
This is great, and doable when there are only adults in the house - linen napkins aren't cheap and if you're a bit anal about them being clean, like I am, then you're going to need more than just a couple.
The alternative, when there are children thrown into the dinner table mix, is to use paper napkins or pieces of kitchen towel - OHHHH so sophisticated and refined!
As a half-way house/a compromise/a bridge between kitchen towel and linen - how about this idea of using face cloths (or flannels, if that's what you prefer to call them) instead?
If I closed my eyes and kept thinking forward to the days when my linen napkins would survive unscathed, I reckon I could just about handle buckets of rolled up flannels on the table.
They certainly beat skanky bits of kitchen towel, are nice and cheap to buy and simple to look after.