How to Choose a Tablecloth Size

Three Methods:Choosing Based on the OccasionConsidering the Number of PeopleSetting Your Table

If you're having guests over, or simply want to spruce up your home, a tablecloth can be a nice touch. When purchasing a tablecloth, you want to make sure it fits your table. This can be tricky. You can decide on a tablecloth size based on the type of occasion you're planning. If you're not buying a tablecloth for a special occasion, consider the number of people that usually sit at your table. With some careful planning, you can easily find the right tablecloth for your needs.

Method 1
Choosing Based on the Occasion

  1. Image titled Choose a Tablecloth Size Step 1
    Consider the occasion. If you're picking a tablecloth for an occasion, consider the nature of that occasion. Depending on the event type, there should be different levels of drop from the edge of the table to the bottom of the tablecloth.
    • For a formal occasion, such as a wedding, you want a longer drop. Have about 15 inches from the edge of the table to the bottom of the tablecloth.[1]
    • For a casual occasion, like a low-key birthday party, you do not need as long of a drop. Aim for a 6-to-8 inch drop from the edge of the table to the bottom of the tablecloth.[2]
  2. Image titled Choose a Tablecloth Size Step 2
    Measure your table. There is a simple calculation you can use to determine the measurements of your tablecloth. To start, you'll need to know the measurements of your table.
    • For a rectangular or square-shaped table, use a measuring tape to measure your table's length and width.[3]
    • For a round table, you'll need to measure the diameter of your table.[4] A diameter is the straight line going through the center of a circle.[5]
  3. Image titled Choose a Tablecloth Size Step 3
    Calculate the proper size for a square or rectangle table. If you have a rectangular table, you'll need to know your desired drop. Remember, this depends on the type of event you're planning.
    • To start, add twice the desired drop to both the length and width of the table. For example, say your table is 40 inches wide and 70 inches long. You want a 6-inch drop. You would add 12 to 40, to get 52. You would then add 12 to 70, to get 82.[6]
    • The resulting values are the dimensions of the tablecloth you should aim to purchase. In our above example, you should look for a tablecloth that is 52 X 82 inches.[7]
  4. Image titled Choose a Tablecloth Size Step 4
    Figure out the size for a round table. Calculating the dimensions of a round table is somewhat simpler. To figure out your length, you simply add twice your desired drop by your table's diameter. Say you want a 9-inch drop and your table has a diameter of 60 inches. You would add 18 to 60, getting 78. When purchasing a tablecloth, select a 78 inch round tablecloth.[8]

Method 2
Considering the Number of People

  1. Image titled Choose a Tablecloth Size Step 5
    Choose a tablecloth for a round table. You can also select a tablecloth based on the number of people that typically sit at the table. You simply select from a range of values. You can go slightly higher or lower in that range if you want a bigger or larger drop.
    • For a round table, you'll have to purchase a circle-shaped tablecloth. If you're seating 2 to 4 people, 72 inches should be enough. If you're seating 6 to 8 people, go for a 86-to-90 inch tablecloth. If you're seating more people than this, you're likely planning an event. You should measure your table following the above directions.[9]
    • Some tables have what is called a leaf or leaves. This is a section in the center of a table, or on its sides, that extends the table's length. With round tables, leaves generally change the table to an oval shape. If you intend to use your table's leaves, you'll have to buy an oval-shaped tablecloth and purchase different measurements.[10]
    • With leaves, go for an 80-to-90 inch tablecloth for 6 people. If you're seating 6 to 8 people, aim for something in the realm of 102-to-108 inches. For 10 to 12 people, go for something between 124 and 126-inches.[11]
  2. Image titled Choose a Tablecloth Size Step 6
    Select a tablecloth for a square table. Most square tables, without leaves, can only seat around 4 people. When seating 4 people on a round table, you can usually get by with a tablecloth of 52-to-54 inches. Choose a square tablecloth.[12]
    • With leaves, you'll need to purchase an oblong tablecloth as the shape of your table changes. For seating 2 to 4 people, a 70-inch oblong table cloth should be sufficient.[13]
    • For seating 6 people, go for an 80-to-90 inch oblong tablecloth. For 8 to 10 people, aim for something between 102 and 108-inches.[14]
    • For 10 to 12 people, you should purchase an oblong table cloth between 124 and 126-inches. If you're seating 14 people, try a 144-inch tablecloth.[15]
  3. Image titled Choose a Tablecloth Size Step 7
    Find the right size for a rectangular table. Regardless of whether or not you're using leaves, you'll need an oblong tablecloth for a rectangle table. For a table of four people, you should be able to get by with a 70-inch oblong tablecloth. For 6 people, aim for something between 80 and 90 inches.[16]
    • For 8 to 10 people, choose a cloth in the 102-to-108 inch range. For 10 to 12 people, select a tablecloth between 124 and 126-inches.[17]
    • For 12 to 14 people, get a 144-inch oblong tablecloth.[18]

Method 3
Setting Your Table

  1. Image titled Choose a Tablecloth Size Step 8
    Choose the proper color based on occasion. When it comes to setting the perfect table, colors matter. Formal and informal dining have different rules when it comes to color.
    • Formal dining should have light colors. Whites and ivories are preferable. If you want to add slightly more color, go with a light pastel shade.[19]
    • Informal dining is less rigid about color requirements. Any shade is appropriate, from bright, primary colors to lighter shades.[20]
  2. Image titled Choose a Tablecloth Size Step 9
    Place the tablecloth over the table. When setting your table with your new tablecloth, placing the tablecloth should be the first step. Make sure you place the tablecloth correctly.
    • Buy a padded table liner, which you can purchase at a local home goods store, to set over your table. This helps hold the tablecloth in place. The liner should be slightly smaller than your actual table. Set this on the table first.[21]
    • Drape your tablecloth over the table. Make sure, on a square or rectangle table, the four corners of the cloth align with the corners of the table. Smooth out the tablecloth with your hands to get rid of any bumps or crevices.[22]
  3. Image titled Choose a Tablecloth Size Step 10
    Consider a runner. A runner is a strip of fabric that runs over the table in a horizontal or vertical line. If you want to add something extra to your tablecloth, consider adding a runner.
    • Runners are often holiday-themed, which can be helpful if you're planning a party around a particular event. For example, if you have a Christmas party a runner decorated with images of holly and snow could be a nice touch.
    • The length of a runner depends on whether you plan on lying it horizontally or vertically. It should be about a foot longer than the length or width of your table.
  4. Image titled Choose a Tablecloth Size Step 11
    Add other decorations. You can add other toppings to your table. Vases, flowers, candles, and centerpieces can be a nice touch. Go with toppers that convey your personality and style.
    • Avoid any topper that takes up too much space. You want to make sure your guests are still able to eat and drink without disruption.
    • Be careful with flowers. Avoid flowers with a strong scent as this can affect the taste of food and drinks.[23]
  5. Image titled Choose a Tablecloth Size Step 12
    Clip the tablecloth, if necessary. If your tablecloth is made from a very silky material, it may slip and move easily. This can be disruptive if guests are trying to eat. You can buy tablecloth clips at most home goods stores or furniture stores. You can attach clips to the edge of your table, securing your tablecloth in place.


  • Sometimes, tablecloth measurements are not exact. Be careful when choosing a supplier. Read reviews online to check to see if the company you're working with has a history of poorly measured tablecloths.

Sources and Citations

Show more... (20)

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Home Decorating