Ask Penelope... How Do I Know Which Tablecloth to Buy

Angela Beck

The Grande Dame of Pomegranate, Penelope the pug, knows a thing or two about a thing or two, and one of her specialties is entertaining at home. She quite often receives in her fan mail questions about home décor and entertaining, and so has decided to share some of her wisdom with the masses.

Dear Penelope, 

Help! I love the idea of using tablecloths but I’m intimidated by them for some reason. How do I know what size to order? How far down should they hang off the table? Can I use placemats along with a tablecloth? Should my napkins match? —Sincerely, Terrorized by Tablecloths

Dear T.T., 

Fear not, my darling. First things first, we must know the size of your table(s). Measure a rectangular table’s length and width, or a round table’s diameter, or the width at its widest point. You’ll want the tablecloth to “drop” off the side 8 inches—or about where the edge of the cloth would hit your guest’s thighs. This is called, rather uncreatively, the “drop.” (By the way, your grandmother’s antique lace tablecloth was most likely made to hang lower or hit the ground on all sides. While this is a lovely look, it’s typically used for formal occasions.)

To determine your required rectangular tablecloth size, add 16” to both the width and length of your table. For example, a table that measures 44x104” would require a 60x120” tablecloth.

Regarding placemats atop your tablecloth… They are certainly not necessary, but when has that ever stopped us from doing something fabulous? If the occasion calls for it, I like to add a woven placemat (like Pomegranate’s Natural Cane Bamboo placemats) or put out chargers, which are oversized decorative plates.

I do enjoy laying out matching napkins to the tablecloth, but will sometimes mix and match with abandon. As long as the color stories work, I’ve been known to mix patterns and prints. You only live once, darlings! 

Do reach out to your dear Aunt Penelope with other questions, my loves. 

Bye for now!

Penelope x

Shop the Pomegranate collection of tablecloths and more here.

Angela Beck