As we prepare for the holidays, attention on table linens is heighten as many of our celebrations are focused around food and entertaining. But what is really important to know about purchasing a fine tablecloth? More importantly is the investment worth it?
Foremost, what should a good table cloth and napkins cost? Keeping in mind that a tablecloth should offer you years of enjoyment and satisfaction, I think you should be prepared to spend about as much as you would for a fine suit. Unlike a suit, a tablecloth should last for years longer than apparel and will fit the same table perfectly every time.
Value for the money is my most important consideration. The best cotton and linen fibers will hold color longer, are woven finer, resist stains better and launder quicker and easier. It all starts with the quality of the staple fiber. The best machinery to weave linens are calibrated to handle the finest yarns, so weavers will choose cotton from consistently reliable and high quality resources. The same holds true for color. Weaving is an amazing craft for which artisans want to use the best possible components to produce the most beautiful finished products. Find out the country of origin, fiber content as well as how long the company you are considering purchasing from has been around.
What to look for is fairly straight forward. However, choosing the right style for the money sometimes presents the stumbling block when it comes to fine table linens. The considerations for purchasing everyday linens are very much the same when choosing something that lasts a lifetime. You have to love it! I think any tablecloth used should be your signature when entertaining. Classic styling never goes out of style and can include color, pattern and texture beyond white and ivory. Many formal dinnerware patterns actually look more inviting when they juxtapose rather than match your dinnerware or dining room. I say stretch yourself a bit on color choice and layer on fashion details with napkins, napkin rings and centerpiece accessories. Continual use of linens you love will be remembered far longer than the price you paid for them.
Fit your table properly and keep in mind the number of guest you entertain. For most of my needs, I entertain with six or twelve guest (at a table) and many of my cloths fit either with the table fully extended or with no leaves at all. The proper drop for the cloth (what hangs off the sides) should be no more than ten inches. You don’t want your guest getting up from the table with the tablecloth. So measure up before you shop.
Reflecting your lifestyle should be the purpose in choosing a perfectly suited tablecloth for you. If you like to entertain in a relaxed elegant style, find subtle colors, linen and textured cloths. If you host traditional events, you may seek rich colors, over-sized jacquard motifs in cottons with sheen. Modern and minimalist can enjoy bright or white colors and simple patterns. Most importantly, purchase your tablecloth for your future entertaining dreams and work towards them.
When done right, fine linens will truly make your dining experience way more wonderful. Everyone will take note of them and many prefer to dine with them (if they can). Years from now the memories of these moments shared with others will be cast with the use of the things you have enjoyed most.