Thursday, September 24, 2009

Etiquette Challenge Workshop: The Table Covering Debate

Dear Blushing Hostess,

I have found and purchased, after two years of looking, my dream kitchen table. The tabletop has been well-loved, and will eventually be refinished. Now, I prefer to enjoy glitter glue sessions with my 4-year old with nary a concern about the already damaged finish and enjoy life. In fact, I already miss the green glitter glue marks on the old table that we deemed “Tinkerbelle’s footprints”. Mr. C has suggested that we purchase a tablecloth in the interim. As I don’t plan on fretting over PB & J stains on any of the old white linen damask for the next 10 years, any table linens I currently own are too large, too high maintenance for daily use, and generally out of the question.

On to my question- the table is 48” round. I’ve never owned a round table, and have a sneaking suspicion that a round tablecloth is well, not to be done? Should I look for 70” x 70” square or is round acceptable? Should I just scrap the tablecloth idea and use place mats as I have been, as it is necessary to sponge off the table after every meal?

Thank you,

Mrs. C

Kind readers, I am looking forward to your thoughts in the comments below and I will post the response I wrote to Mrs. C next week.

If you have an etiquette question with which we can help, please email your dilemma to me at

Blushing tip: Find my favorite guide to folding round table cloths for storage here.

Photo credits: Southern Living, Southern Accents


EntertainingMom said...

Dear Mrs. C,

What I suggest is this. Purchase not one, but two table cloths. One can be an ordinary, every day Linens & Things variety. It can be white or patterned. The point of Cloth #1 is that it won't matter if glitter and paint are spilled. This will be the kid-friendly table cloth. This table cloth will not mind having grape juice, ketchup or glue dumped upon it. It should be machine washable! Or if you can find one with a vinyl like surface that you can wipe clean, this would be great too. (My parents have the latter specifically for when we invade their home!)

You should also get yourself a 2nd table cloth. This can be a nicer table cloth, if you wish. You should not have too much difficulty finding one in the measurements you require. You can also layer. I love the layered look. You could place a shorter table cloth over a longer one. You can have them in a solid color, or varied but matching patterns. Then you can dress the table in short or long depending on your mood! Table cloths are such fun! (I'm off to get mine right out of the dry cleaning bag where they've been for the past year!)

I hope this helps,

Sincerely EntertainingMom

Cass @ That Old House said...

I have a round table in our conservatory, an old family piece. I received several round tablecloths when I got the table, but I have given them up in favor of big square cloths.

The round ones are a pain to put on perfectly evenly, so the drop is exact all the way 'round. They are even more of a pain to keep "even" on the table. You NOTICE when a round cloth is lopsided, and if you have kids -- or men -- sitting at the table, that's going to happen. A square cloth can take some tugging and sliding and still look OK, and it's way easier to put on in the first place.

Get at least 2 cloths. Sturdy and machine washable; heavy cotton is good, and they are inexpensive at stores like Kohl's. Prints hide PB & J smears better than solids; solids look better I think. Maybe one of each!

I don't like vinyl coated cloths, but I did use them when my girls were very young.


little augury said...

Many options- and like Cass- I think for everyday use- a square tossed over- large enough to fit the top- with inevitable points as it falls-but that's OK. I think the full to floor skirts are by far needed for the round table- I don't like the shorter versions-yuck. A tablecloth of newsprint or papers is always good when an all out gluefest ensues. Over time the glitter, paints and glue will take its toll. Placemats- great too- there are fun vinyl coated ones for kids- a special mat for them could be a good answer too. Great fun-these posts. What are your thoughts about the yet to take off-Swell party? Gaye

LPC said...

I find nothing reprehensible in round tablecloths. Nor in coated ones, especially of the gingham variety, when little children are involved.

debbiependell said...

I like the idea of a "play" tablecloth, except why not make a creative one? Create a table cloth(actually paint, draw, emblish right on the cloth) that comes out when projects are done at the table ~ it becomes the kids' tablecloth. It could be vinyl or cloth which would determine the kinds of paints and supplies that you use on it. Each child gets a section to paint or draw on about themselves, or a scene could be drawn on the cloth, or they could embellish only one section a year so that it becomes a cloth that "grows" with their artistic abilities.

After that, tablecloth or placemats become a choice depending on your formality. Have both ~ placemats are casual, short tablecloths formal, floor length tablecloths really formal. Your choice depends on the mood that you are trying to set. Seems there is a time for all of the above.

Happy entertaining!

Deanna said...

Just about anything is used and/or acceptible. Tablecloths, table runners, mats.

Bargain priced sheets can be transformed into easy to wash tablecloths.

It's no crime to have alot of tablecloths. They store very well. After a Holiday has passed, one can usually find Holiday related tablecloths at bargain prices.

Autumn Blessings,
d from homehaven