11 Practical Tablecloth Alternatives for the Best Dining Experience

Tired of your ordinary vinyl or linen tablecloth? Admittedly, tablecloths are a luxurious addition to any dining table. However, they can get costly to replace whenever they are torn or stained. This is why you should consider cheaper tablecloth alternatives that make your dining experience fun and hassle-free.

Still not convinced? Then take a quick look at some disadvantages of tablecloths that are sure to convince you to look for better alternatives instead:

Why You Should Consider Tablecloth Alternatives

  • Tablecloths have to be washed after use. This will take up a lot of effort and resources.
  • If you don’t have enough storage space, it can be tricky to store your tablecloths as you need to ensure they don’t get mold or bacteria.
  • Every time your tablecloth is stained or damaged, you will need to replace it. This can prove to be costly.
  • Vinyl tablecloths cannot be repaired once they are torn or damaged.
  • Vinyl tablecloths aren’t soft to the touch and may even feel sticky. This is due to the non-absorbent material of the tablecloth. Furthermore, lower-quality vinyl cloths are rigid and uncomfortable to the touch.
  • Cotton tablecloths are difficult to clean. In some instances, food stains like turmeric or wine can’t be removed at all. If you have children, the mess on the tablecloth can be time-consuming to clean every time your family has a meal together. This can prove to be an expensive option.

Tablecloth Alternatives

1. Rustic Wooden Boards

Rustic Wooden Boards

Whether you want to cover the entire length of your table or just place a slab under each plate, rustic wooden boards are the most charming way to add casual elegance to your table. Get creative and paint your wooden slabs the same color as your table, and for maximum sturdiness, place Blu Tack at the bottom of the slabs to stick them to the table.

Pros

  • Adds rustic appeal to the table
  • Blu Tack ensures sturdiness

Cons

  • Doesn’t cover the entire table
  • Not soft to the touch

2. Wrapping Paper

Wrapping Paper

The next time you have a birthday or informal party, don’t use vinyl tablecloths to cover your tables. For a cheaper and disposable alternative, go for wrapping paper. This is one of the most inexpensive ways of decorating a table for your party. No need to cut the paper to size; just roll it across the entire table’s length and you’re done!

Pros

  • No need to clean or wash the paper
  • An inexpensive alternative to tablecloths

Cons

  • Can easily tear
  • Some papers are too flimsy

3. Kraft Paper

Kraft Paper

Just like wrapping paper, kraft paper is another inexpensive option to use as a tablecloth alternative. The only difference between kraft paper and wrapping paper is its rustic look. Plus it allows your party guests to get creative with it using crayons or markers. Not only does kraft paper give the table a rustic style, but it can also serve as memorabilia since your guests can express their thoughts about the party on these papers. Once the party is over, simply roll up the paper and put it away.

Pros

  • Fun for a kid’s party
  • Easy clean-up
  • Can be rolled up and stored away

Cons

  • Can easily tear

4. Fitted Sheet

Fitted Sheet

Fitted sheets are a no-brainer as tablecloth alternatives. A single bedroom sheet can cover a huge area. These sheets are not as expensive as tablecloths plus there are tons of patterns and colors to match your occasion. This makes them the ideal alternative for indoor or outdoor parties. Unlike a tablecloth, fitted sheets don’t slip off the table as easily plus they can be washed in the washing machine and reused.

Pros

  • It is less expensive than tablecloth
  • Perfect for any occasion
  • Machine Washable
  • Does not move around or slip off the table

Cons

  • Needs regular washing
  • Difficult to remove food stains
  • Single sizes may be too big for a standard table

5. Table Runner

Table Runner

If you don’t want to completely cover your table with a fitted sheet, consider a table runner. This tablecloth alternative can be used for any occasion, especially for weddings and everyday dining. Runners give your table extra style plus they protect the table from damage caused by hot plates. Runners give your table the color and texture it needs for a traditional and elegant feel. These are an excellent option to dress up your dining room or kitchen table for a clean look. You can find these affordable tablecloth alternatives in most merchant stores.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Stylish
  • Takes up less space in storage

Cons

  • Doesn’t protect table from scratches and marks
  • Doesn’t cover the entire table surface

6. Scarves

Scarves

In winter or spring, dress up your dining table with different scarves to give it a sheer appearance. Use one or two as table runners or place them on top of another tablecloth alternative. Scarves come in various patterns and colors, thus making them an attractive option for your dining table.

Pros

  • A lovely formal look
  • Can be easily cut
  • Comes in many colors and patterns
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Doesn’t cover the entire table

7. Blanket

Blanket

A blanket is the ideal tablecloth alternative as the two are closely related. Whether you go for picnic blankets or festive ones, your dining experience during the fall or winter will be an enjoyable one. In spring, use floral blankets to match the season. This idea is one of the easiest tablecloth alternatives as it can be found in every home.

Pros

  • Can be easily washed
  • Endless use possibilities
  • Different patterns to use for every season

Cons

  • Depending on the type of fabric you choose, it may slide off of the table
  • Requires washing often

8. Place Mats

Place Mats

Placemats give the illusion of a table runner but come in individual pieces. They tend to look more interesting than generic table runners and you can enhance their design by setting them up as you like. Adding placemats on the table can tie the entire room together and give it a dash of elegance. These mats can be purchased from any department store so whether you have an upcoming party, wedding or family dinner, go for placemats made of soft material like cotton. That said, you may also choose wood or plastic if you wish. If you want to avoid your placemats from slipping off the table, however, go for bamboo instead of cotton. It depends on the kind of occasion you want to use them for. Placemats are great tablecloth alternatives as they are simple to set up and look very stylish. What’s more, they protect the table from hot dishes or scratches.

Pros

  • Protects the table from scratches or damage by dishes
  • Inexpensive
  • Attractive materials to choose from including bamboo and wood

Cons

  • Can slip off the table

9. Curtain

Curtain

Now, who would think a curtain can make a good tablecloth alternative! But of course, it can. If it looks good on your windows, it can look even more beautiful on your table. Curtains come in many different styles and colors. The sheer designs are perfect for weddings while the fabric varieties will suit any occasion. And what we particularly love about these tablecloth alternatives is the perfect match you can achieve between your windows and dining table. Even your coffee table or side tables can benefit from small curtains to make the living room look stunning.

Pros

  • Different colors and styles available
  • Matches the windows with the table
  • Small curtains can be used on side tables and coffee table
  • Machine-washable
  • Suitable for any occasion

Cons

  • Can be blown away if used outside
  • Needs adjustment or cutting before using as a tablecloth

10. Rug

Rug

Who said rugs are just for floors? Throw them across your dining room table to add some pattern and sturdiness to your dinner party. Bonus tip: for a boho-themed party, go with faux fur or embroidered rugs to make your occasion a unique one. Even a small, thin rug in the middle of the table will serve as a unique tablecloth alternative!

Pros

  • Ideal for boho-themed parties
  • Wide variety of colors and patterns to choose from

Cons

  • Can slip off the table
  • Can be difficult to clean food stains

11. Burlap

Burlap

If you want to make a subtle statement, then a burlap tablecloth is a good start. Grab your guests’ attention by placing a lengthy piece of burlap on the table. This is the perfect idea for indoor and outdoor dining. And to give your burlap tablecloth a fresh look, add some flowers to the middle of the table. The tan color of burlap goes well with nature-themed or country parties. Burlap creates a textured experience for your dining guests, although it can feel a little scratchy to the touch. Match your burlap tablecloth with burlap napkins to complete the set. This idea proves to turn a rugged accent piece into any formal or informal occasion.

Pros

  • Rustic appearance
  • Perfect for nature-themed occasions
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Feels scratchy
  • Limited range of color