With the worst of the pandemic behind us the world is ready to get back to partying! If you aren’t quite ready to throw a giant bash yet (we get it) then a small, intimate dinner party might be just the ticket to get back into larger scale socializing. Just because it’s your closest friends doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the decorations and table dressings, if anything it’s more of an excuse to go all out! This may bring up some questions if you are new to hosting, like what size of tablecloth do we need? How much overhang looks best for a table runner? What’s the difference between dinner and formal dinner napkins? We can help answer these questions and more as we continue, whether you’re looking for a last minute DIY project to wow your party guests, or for thoughtful gifts for your friends and family.
A tablecloth is an excellent base to compliment your centerpieces. Depending on your style you could find solid color table linens, or even fun printed options to match a theme. Tablecloths can be found through home goods stores, antique stores, or if you have enough time you can make them yourself! A cute option if you have children could be to stamp shapes along the edge with fabric paint, or even paint hand prints!
If you are outfitting a round table for informal dining you will want to measure the diameter of your table top and from there you would look for a tablecloth between 12 to 20 inches larger than your table. You do not need to be limited to a round tablecloth for a round table, a square tablecloth would be just as suitable, just make sure that the diagonal corner-to-corner measurement is between 12 and 20 inches larger than the diameter of your table. For formal dining add 60 inches to the diameter of your table for a round tablecloth, or choose a square tablecloth 18 to 30 inches larger than your table on the diagonal corner-to-corner measurement. Dressing a square tablecloth is exactly the same as for a round table, except that a square table looks best with a square tablecloth, naturally.
To outfit a rectangular table we will need the width and length measurements, and the height if it is an unusual size. Like the round table we will be looking for a tablecloth that is between 12 and 30 inches larger than the width and height. For a formal height tablecloth we will add 60 inches to the length and height for a 30 inch drop on all sides, just the same as the round table. Ideally, the tablecloth should have an equal amount of drop on all sides, but that may not be feasible depending on your table.
Now that we understand the basics of tablecloths we can start playing around with additional accoutrements! Mixing and matching is a fun option by layering tablecloths of different colors and sizes, like an informal length square tablecloth over a round formal one in red and white on a round table. A square table could look great with two square tablecloths, one parallel as a base with another diagonally on top.
Table runners are also a great way to add a pop of color or pattern to your table if you don’t want to invest in patterned tablecloths. They can be layered, either with a smaller runner on top of a wider one, or you could have one runner down the length of the table with a second runner across the center width! Ideally you will want a table runner ⅓ the width of your table, but the length can be up to you as long as you have a minimum of 6 inches of overhang on the ends. At its longest you would still want your runner to be shorter than your tablecloth. If you want to make your own table runner there are so many possibilities! A single layer of burlap with its edges frayed has been a popular option seen all over Pinterest in recent years, but there are plenty of other options available if you are a crafty person. Table runners can range from a single layer of fabric hemmed on each side, to multiple layers with quilting and batting. Solid colored, printed, embroidered or with tassels, your table runner can be as decadent or as minimalist as you wish!
Another way to add a pop of color to your table is cloth napkins! Cloth napkins are a simple way to make any meal feel instantly more fancy and elegant. There are so many sizes to choose from, but a good average is 18 to 20 inches square for dinner napkins and 22 to 26 inches for larger formal dinner napkins. Making napkins is a simple gift for friends and family if you like to sew. Two yards of fabric can easily become 8 napkins, and all that is required is a sewing machine or needle and thread, and tools for measuring, marking and cutting.
Remember that hosting a party is all about having fun and sharing time with your friends and loved ones! It can be easy to get caught up in how things should or shouldn’t look, or whether you’re nailing that Pinterest trend, but in the end people won’t notice the size of your napkins or if your table runner is too long. The important thing is to have a good time making memories and sharing a delicious meal together!