Setting the table is an important part of any meal and how far you go is a personal choice.  Some people like to keep it simple for most meals while others like a complete their table every time.  Whatever option you prefer, one of the first things to decide is the best base for your table.  There are three main options – a bare table, a tablecloth or a table runner. So, why choose a tablecloth?


A tablecloth is something that covers the whole of the surface of the table.  There are many different styles from simple, single coloured ones to elaborate patterns, shapes and even heirloom styles that you have inherited from family members.

Tablecloth Pros

If you are a little out of love with the look or condition of your table, then a tablecloth is ideal.  It covers the whole of the table and allows you to change the look depending on the occasion.  You can have red at Christmas, a summery pastel shade in summer or even themed styles.

Tablecloths are easy to wash if there are spills or stains as most can go in the washing machine or be wiped clean.  You can also bundle them up and tip food debris straight into the bin, cutting down on mess in the dining room.  And they even act as insulation, cutting down the natural noise of a meal.

Tablecloth Sizes

You need to ensure that you get the right size and shape of tablecloth for your table, or it can become a bit of a nuisance.  You want it to cover the table and overlap a bit but not be on the floor where people can stand on it and pull the whole setting off. Measuring your table correctly before ordering your new tablecloth will ensure you get a perfect fit.

Table Runner Options

A table runner is a middle ground – a thin strip of material that runs down the centre of the table but usually doesn’t touch either side edge.

Pros – It can help to mask a table that is past its best and add some visual features to the layout.  There are lots of styles including themed and seasonal looks and you can choose longer or shorter styles.  Longer ones are dramatic while shorter ones highlight the centrepiece.

You can add them over a tablecloth to create a layered look and because they are smaller, there is less material to get caught up and cause problems.

Cons – The table isn’t as protected as with a tablecloth and any stains will still require the whole table runner be washed.  You will also still need placemats for the areas where the runner isn’t.

Bare Table Options

Finally, you don’t have to use anything on the table and leave it bare.  This is great if you either love your table or aren’t worried about it becoming stained or scratched.  The right surface makes it easy to clean and there’s no risk of children pulling the content of the table away.

There are quite a few downsides to the bare table.  Meals are a lot noisier and there will be more marks on the table from glasses and plates that require attention to repair.  Fragile china can break when put down too heavily and food tends to get colder quicker on a bare table.

Ideal option?

There’s no right or wrong answer on how to dress your table.  While a bare table is easy, it has the most potential issues.  However, a tablecloth has few downsides but a lot of plus points that make it a great option for your any occasion on any table.

To find the perfect tablecloth for your table, in any situation visit our extensive online tablecloth shop