12 Unique Alternatives to a Tablecloth
Are you always using the same tablecloth? Have you ever wondered what you can use instead of a tablecloth? Maybe you can’t find a tablecloth that works with the theme for your gathering. Maybe you don’t want to buy another tablecloth, or maybe you don’t have the money to spend on one right now.
Here is a list of 12 unique alternatives you can use to cover your dining table that will work and work well.
1. Regular Fitted Bed Sheet
A twin-size sheet works great as a tablecloth. I prefer using a flat sheet over a fitted sheet, as it has corners and isn’t gathered. What’s great about bed sheets is that they are easy to wash and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Take a look at my Mardi Gras party buffet – I used a flat white sheet as the base tablecloth.
- Pros: a variety of colors and patterns, and sturdy to use
- Cons: might be too large for your table and thus look awkward. If that’s the case, try folding it in half and see how it looks.
Scarves are a wonderful alternative for a tablecloth. I’m sure you have scarves you rarely (or never) wear. [I know I have a lot I never use] So why not use them to dress up your dining table! If the scarf doesn’t cover the whole table, put it at an angle, or down the middle as a table runner. Or even layer more than one on your table. Then when you are done with them, they can be cleaned, and you won’t feel guilty about not wearing them. Check out how I used a purple scarf on my Mardi Gras party buffet.
- Pros: a variety of colors and patterns
- Cons: none really
3. Craft or chalk paper
A really fun alternative to a tablecloth is using a roll of craft or chalkboard paper. Depending on the width of the roll, you might be able to cover your whole table, or line it down the middle of your table, or layer it on the table. Make it fun for your guests by including pens, crayons, or chalk as part of the tablescape. Then ask your guests to write a message, draw pictures, or play games on the paper. Once your gathering is over, you can save it as a nice memory to look back at later.
- Pros: inexpensive and disposable = it won’t take up any storage space
- Cons: since it is paper, it can tear. It also might be hard to find colors other than white, brown, and black.
Using a throw blanket as an alternative to a tablecloth can add a unique feel to your table. Not only the texture, but the pattern is typically different than you will find for a tablecloth. This too is great, because blankets are easy to clean, and usually made to handle heavy wear.
- Pros: a variety of colors and patterns, and sturdy
- Cons: might be a little clunky to cover a table
5. Beach towel
If you are planning a beach or pool-themed gathering, use a beach towel instead of a tablecloth. What better table covering could there be! The material is absorbent and soft, and beach towels usually have really fun colors and designs. Plus, most are long enough to cover a table.
- Pros: easy to throw in the washing machine and they come in lots of colors and patterns
- Cons: can’t think of any
Placemats don’t need to go only under your place settings. You can line them down the table to create an interesting table runner or create a pattern with them to cover your table. You can even mix them up and alternate patterns on the table.
- Pros: a variety of colors and patterns. If only one placemat gets dirty, there is less to wash!
- Cons: will need to use quite a few placemats to cover a table or most of it.
A window curtain is a fabulous alternative to a tablecloth. They are practically the same thing! Maybe you are planning to change your curtains. Keep the existing (old) ones and use them as tablecloths. Or if you find them on clearance, buy one with the plan to use it as a tablecloth. If you know how to sew (or have a friend that does), you can trim them to size and hem them. No one would know it was originally a curtain.
- Pros: a variety of colors and patterns
- Cons: might be too long for your table and hang over too much, and some might require dry cleaning
8. Shower curtain
Are you having a gather outside, or maybe looking for a unique tablecloth option for a kids’ table? If so, a shower curtain is a really unusual table covering. It will protect your table and will be easy-peasy to clean up any spills. Just wipe them up!
- Pros: easy to clean and available in a variety of colors and patterns
- Cons: depending on the material, it might not drape well
9. Gift wrap
Gift wrap comes in so many beautiful designs and colors. Some even look too nice to use! So why not use it to cover your table? A roll of gift wrap doesn’t cost much and will add a really unique look to your table. And the best part is you can toss it after your gathering is over – no tablecloth to clean! That is a win-win!!
- Pros: inexpensive and come in a variety of colors and patterns
- Cons: gift wrap can easily tear
A flexible rug is another option to use instead of a tablecloth. It would make a great table runner. You can also place a few short ones next to each other across the width of your table.
- Pros: a variety of colors and patterns, and easy to wash
- Cons: the material might be fairly rigid and not lay easily on a table
11. Fabric remnant
Next time you are at your local craft or fabric store, look in the remnant section. There are often fabric pieces that are large enough to use on your table. And since it is a remnant, it is marked down in price. This is an inexpensive way to cover and add color to your table.
- Pros: inexpensive and available in a variety of colors and patterns
- Cons: you are limited to the size of the remnant and the edges might need to be finished if it frays easily.
12. Drop cloth
A painter’s drop cloth is easy to find at your local hardware store. There are also lots of fun DIY projects online that show you how to use a drop cloth to make your own one-of-a-kind tablecloth. I will be posting one in the future, but for now, take a look on Pinterest for inspiration.
- Pros: flexibility to create a tablecloth with your own design and desired colors.
- Cons: you will need to wash it a few times before using, and then cut it to the desired size
*Don’t feel you have to use a tablecloth to dress up your kitchen or dining room table. These 12 unique alternatives to a tablecloth are great suggestions to consider using for your next gathering.