Entertaining

How to Choose a Tablecloth Size

The building block of any table setting is the tablecloth. Which is why it’s important to pick the right one for your home. But just like other decor, choosing linens is about more than finding a set that reflects your style. It has to be sized to fit your table.

To figure out what size tablecloth you need, follow these simple instructions.

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What’s the Occasion?

For casual events, tablecloths should have a 6- to 8-inch drop from the edge of the table to the bottom of the tablecloth. For more formal events, tablecloths have a 15-inch drop from the edge of the table to the bottom of the tablecloth. The length of the cloth helps dress the table and set the tone for the meal. Think of this as the difference between the attire for a casual brunch and a formal dinner.

Measure by Measure

After you’ve decided on the tone of your occasion, apply this simple equation to determine the correct length of your table cloth. First measure the length and width of your table. Next add twice the desired drop to each side’s dimension. For example, if your table measures 42 inches wide and 72 inches long and you want a drop of 9 inches, add 18 inches to each side. The resulting dimensions — 60 x 90 inches — is the tablecloth size you should purchase.

How to measure tablecloth width and height

For a round table, measure the diameter of your table and add twice the desired drop. For example a 60-inch round table with a 15-inch drop would require a 90-inch round tablecloth.

How to measure the diameter of a round table

One Size Does Not Fit All

Because dining table sizes are not standardized across the furniture industry, tablecloth dimensions usually fall within a range that can work on many tables. A cloth with a drop of 8-to 9-inches from the side of your table is considered a comfortable drop for casual, easy dining. It won’t restrict your diners legs or block access to the chairs.

If your table proves difficult to dress with a standard cloth, consider using other table linens as design elements. For extra wide tables, use multiple runners in place of a single tablecloth, by placing runners either across the width as “placemats for two” or use two runners along the length of the table under the place settings. If your table is oblong or oval, use a rectangular cloth allowing it to pool on the “corners”.

Once you’ve found the right size or solution, invest in a few colors or patterns so you can mix-and-match your linens with your dinnerware to fit the occasion. After all, fit matters.

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