Table Linens 101
First, and most important, is the shape of your table.
Second is the number of people that can sit at your table. Some tablecloth packages base measurements on the number of people that can fit comfortably around your table. However, a more accurate way of deciding the size of your tablecloth is simply to measure your table.
Third, how far do you want the tablecloth to hang over the edge? This is most commonly called the “drop.” A normal drop can be anywhere from 6-12 inches, and for elaborate formal occasions, it can go all the way down to 30 inches.
It all comes down to one incredibly easy formula. Determine your desired drop and plug in your numbers.
- Table length + (Drop x 2) = Tablecloth length
- Table width + (Drop x 2) = Tablecloth width
So, if your table measured 48” x 60” and your desired drop was 8 inches, you would be shopping for a 64” x 76” tablecloth.
Color & Texture
Keep your dinnerware and decor in mind when choosing a tablecloth and accessories. Find a tablecloth that represents your own personal taste, and don’t be afraid to mix and match napkins and placemats with different colors and textures for a vibrant table setting.
Make sure to check the package for appropriate care instructions when you purchase a tablecloth. Most tablecloths are machine washable. Just shake the crumbs off outside (if possible), throw it in the wash and tumble dry on low. Some require the use of a warm iron to smooth out creases and wrinkles leftover from the dryer.
Table Pad — While the tablecloth is there to provide ambiance to your dining experience, the table pad beneath keeps your table looking gorgeous for years to come. It’s always a good idea to protect your table with a table pad, especially when it’s so easy for drinks to be spilled, food to be dribbled and sauces to be splattered. Get a table pad that fits your table appropriately and place it underneath your table linens, so it’s neatly disguised, yet working its magic!
Placemats — Choose placemats that match or even slightly contrast with your tablecloth, depending on the theme and mood of the dinner.
Napkins — They should be placed to the left of or underneath forks, unless they are decoratively folded or a matching napkin ring is used.