Choosing the right size table cloth can be trickier than it seems at first. Even though there are several standard sizes on the market, you may not always be able to fit any of those on the tables you want to decorate.
When searching for the ideal size for your table cloth, you should take several factors into consideration. The size of the table is an obvious one, but you should also pay attention to its shape (square, rectangular, round, and oval) and the style you’re going for with your decoration.
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Choosing the Right Drop
The length of the part of the table cloth hanging from the sides of the table is called the drop. There are some standards for the drop length that you should do your best to follow, especially if you’re preparing for a formal event.
Not all of your guests might care about seeing the right drop length. In fact, many of them probably won’t notice this part of your decor at all. But if this is a high-class event and you want to make a good impression, this is an important detail that will matter more than you might expect.
Considerations for Specific Table Shapes
Your choice of table cloth size should start with the shape of your table. There are various standard sizes on the market, and knowing what size table cloth to use for an 8 ft table (rectangular) and what size to use for a 48 inch (4 ft) round table is important if you want to decorate your area appropriately.
What size table cloth should you use for a square table? This is one of the easiest cases, as the table has an equal length on all sides. All you have to do to find the drop is to take the length of the table, subtract it from the length of the table cloth, and divide the result by two.
For example, if you have a 60” square table and an 85” table cloth, you will have a drop that’s (85 – 60) / 2 = 12.5” in length. This is a standard drop that can work well for a variety of formal events.
Square tables come in several standard sizes: 2’6”, 3 ft, 4 ft, 5 ft, 6 ft, and 8 ft. Using the rule above, you can easily find the ideal table cloth size for your specific table if you know how long you want the drop to be.
For a rectangular table, the process is similar but repeated for both sides of the table. Subtract the length of the shorter side from the length of the table cloth’s own shorter side and divide the result by two. Then do the same for the long side.
What size table cloth should you use for an 8 ft rectangular table? How about a 6 ft rectangular table?
The ideal table cloth size for a 6-foot rectangular table is 132”x90”. This will make a good fit for formal and casual events alike.
For an 8-foot rectangular table, you will need a 120”x52” table cloth at the least. If you want a full drop, you should go with a 156”x90” table cloth instead.
For most round tables, cloth sizes vary between 64” and 72”. These are suitable for tables between 48” and 60” if you want a drop of around 8”. There is some room for adjustment though. If you’re comfortable with making your drop slightly shorter (down to 6”-7”) or longer (up to about 10”), you will have a better variety of options to pick from.
What size table cloth should you use for a cocktail table? Cocktail tables require a slightly longer drop, and in some cases, you can get away with having your cloth running down almost to the floor.
For a 24” short cocktail table, you should use an 84” table cloth. For a 30” short cocktail table, 90” is often ideal. And if you have something larger, like a 36” highboy cocktail table, you can use a table cloth between 110” and 120”, leaning towards the upper end.
Here are some examples of table cloth sizes that should work well for different round tables:
- For a 36” (3 ft) round table, you should go with a 90” cloth, which will leave you with a 27” drop.
- For a 48” (4 ft) round table, anything between 90” and 108” will work well. This will give you a drop ranging between 21” and 30”.
- For a 60” (5 ft) round table, a 108” table cloth usually works best. You can go up to 118” for a reasonable drop, but keep in mind that this increases the drop to almost 30”, which might not be ideal for all occasions.
- Finally, for a 72” (6 ft) round table, a 120” table cloth is the most universal choice. You can reasonably go with a larger table cloth, up to 130”, if you don’t care about creating a longer drop.
Oval tables can be a bit trickier. They are typically not as small as round tables, but at the same time don’t utilize available space as well as rectangular ones.
What size tablecloth should you use for an oval table? For a small table, like a 30”x48” model, you should go with a tablecloth that’s roughly 50”x72”. Some minor deviations up or down are allowed if you aren’t going for a specific drop.
What about larger oval tables? For an oval table that’s 56”x74”, you should ideally go with a 72”x90” table cloth. If your table is longer – say, 56”x74” – you can increase the table cloth’s length accordingly. A 72”x108” table cloth should make a nice fit for an oval table of this size without making the drop awkwardly long.
Should You Use an Overlay?
A table cloth overlay is basically a second, smaller table cloth that rests atop the main one. It can create an interesting visual contrast of shapes and colors and can help you take your decoration to the next level.
However, in some cases, you might want to refrain from using a table cloth overlay. Some more formal events call for a minimalistic approach to the decoration. This also depends on your local area and the guests who’ll be attending.
When in doubt, consult an expert to guide you through this step of the process.
Notes on Using Sizes That Aren’t a Perfect Fit
Sometimes it might be impossible to find a table cloth that’s a perfect fit for your tables. You might have a table or two that are shaped in an odd way, or it may be impossible to find the right size table cloth on short notice.
In any case, you should remember that it’s sometimes possible to substitute with a different size, as long as you pay attention to the drop and the corners. Sometimes, using a table cloth of the wrong size or shape will make the corners thicker than usual, ruining the balance of the table cloth’s appearance.
When in doubt, or working with limited resources, it’s usually better to go with a slightly longer drop. This can still preserve an exquisite aesthetic while using a table cloth that’s too short might have the opposite effect.
Choosing the right table cloth for your tables is something that many people underestimate as a challenge. If you’ve never been involved in any formal decoration before, you might be surprised by all the small details that end up being quite important. You have to pay attention to all of those points if you want to make the right impression on your guests.