Buying Table Linens

Get tips for choosing table linens to match your needs.

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Holiday Table

Whether it’s an intimate dinner for two or a small gathering of friends, great table linens are a feast for the eyes and a complement to any meal. Here are some things to think about before buying:

  • Consider fabric and care. Cotton blends are available, but 100 percent cotton has the best look and is the easiest for which to care. A cotton-linen blend looks nice but requires ironing, and while a cotton-polyester blend is easy to take care of, it doesn’t have the feel of 100 percent cotton.

  • Some linens are treated with a special stain-resistant coating that allows spills to puddle instead of soaking in for easy cleanup.

  • The four basic tablecloth shapes are square, oblong, oval and round. A good-fitting tablecloth should have an 8- to 10-inch drop (the drop is the amount of fabric that hangs over the edge). To get the right size, measure the length and width of the table, and then add 16 to 20 inches to those measurements to guarantee the right drop.

  • Table runners are one of the hottest looks around. You can use a wide one across a table instead of a tablecloth as a new way to set a special dinner for two. Keep in mind that there’s no wrong way to set a table, so have fun and let imagination be your inspiration.

  • When in doubt, it’s safest to go for a large size because a table will always look fashionably dressed in a full-length skirt.


Finally, a note about care: Wash all coordinating linens together, even the ones that weren’t used for a party or dinner, so that they wear evenly.

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