There are several different kinds of chopstick holders, designed for a variety of purposes from teaching people how to use chopsticks to storing chopsticks for travel. Many Asian markets carry chopstick holders, and they can also be ordered through importers and specialty stores. In a pinch, various kitchen supplies can also stand in as chopstick holders, depending on the type needed.
A chopstick rest is a small piece of tableware which is provided for diners to rest their chopsticks on when not in use. Chopstick rests are provided for each diner, and they are typically small and wedge shaped. Ceramic is a popular material for chopstick rests, although jade and many other materials can be used as well. When a chopstick rest is available, people should not rest their chopsticks on their plates. People should also careful about which direction the chopsticks are pointing. As a general rule, chopsticks should not be pointed at any other person around the table, even in a resting position.
Some chopstick holders are designed to help people corral chopsticks while they learn how to use them. These chopstick holders create a hinge which holds the chopsticks together so that diners do not have to struggle with them. Silicone and other flexible materials are commonly used for this purpose. In Asia, this type of chopstick holder is usually used only by children, as it is assumed that adults will know how to handle their chopsticks, and they are often known as kids' chopstick holders.
Other chopstick holders come in the form of cases which are used to store chopsticks. Travel chopsticks typically come with a case which keeps the chopsticks protected and clean during travel, and some formal chopsticks may come with matching cases, much like the cases used to hold fine silver in the West. A wide variety of materials can be used to make cases for chopsticks, depending on their purpose, and some cases come with a slot for a coordinating chopstick rest.
If a table is being set for a formal dinner with chopsticks and chopstick rests are not available, small plates can be used as a stand-in. Kid's chopstick holders are more difficult to substitute. People who think that they will need chopstick holders for children may want to purchase children's chopsticks, which have a tweezer-like connected design for ease of use. Any sort of case or box can be used for travel chopsticks, including soft cases made from lengths of canvas or other materials which can be wrapped around the chopsticks for travel.