In my reading of etiquette books, I came across a couple of items, the use of which has been relegated to fancy dinners or upper crust dining in general, but which could and should be rekindled among the common folks: napkin rings and finger bowls. I found a kindred spirit today when I pointed out some napkins and tablecloths on sale to a coworker. We got to talking about napkins and napkin rings.
Napkin rings were historically used more commonly for the everyday at home dining and not used when setting a formal table. That trend seems to be reversed now and the well-dressed table has simple to ornate matching napkin rings at every place setting. Napkins rings, it turns out, when not matched, are a great way to differentiate which napkin belongs to which diner when reusing the napkin for more than one meal. I mentioned this to my friend and she remembered her parents doing that and had just been thinking of that as she was tired of washing so many apparently clean table linens.
Finger bowls are similarly considered upper crust, but usually formal meals are created to minimize the risk of mess and one does not eat with one's hands at such. On the contrary, informal family dining is more likely the place where a finger bowl would be more useful. So, if you should come to dine at my house and notice finger bowls and mismatched napkin rings on the table, please don't assume that I'm confused about my table settings - I'm just trying to keep all our hands clean!