Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In Praise of Tablecloths

Our kitchen table has grown with our family. It's now a 4' x 8' sheet of particle board (coated with polyurethane, edges rounded) lying on top of the original table. We can easily seat 12, so there is usually room to spare. :)Even when our tabletop was more attractive than it is now, I used tablecloths. Why? Two reasons: they look better and are easier to clean than a bare table.

I'm sure you agree that the cloths are attractive. The table looks dressier whether it's set for a tea partyor an ordinary dinner.And, oh my goodness, it's so much easier to tidy the table than it used to be!

Old Way:
  1. Get everything off the table.
  2. Wipe off the crumbs.
  3. Soap up the surface, or at least the grubby areas.
  4. Wipe off the soapiness (the worst part!).
  5. Put back candle, napkins, etc.
New Way:
  1. Get everything off the table.
  2. Roll up the table cloth.
  3. Shake off crumbs.
  4. Put cloth back on the table, or trade out for a clean one if necessary.
  5. Put back candle, napkins, etc.
Okay, it's the same number of steps, but shaking a cloth and putting it back is a hundred times easier than wiping the table, especially a big one that's hard to reach across (even for a grownup!). My children all prefer the "new way."

Are you convinced now?And please DON'T cover your cloth with plastic! It doesn't look better, and you'll have to wipe that thing off just like a plain table. Get some linens and toss them in the laundry when they get grubby. You're doing laundry, anyway, aren't you?Yes, this qualifies as grubby. ;-)

A pattern on the cloth keeps it looking fresh longer. I find most of my tablecloths at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They've got expensive ones, but most of mine were $20 or less (60" x 120" !). Remember those awesome 20% off coupons!*

I do use a fuzzy cloth/vinyl liner between the table and the linens. It cushions a little bit and protects nice tabletops, only needing wiping after massively messy spills.

*I've never seen this advertised, but the BBBs around here will allow you to use one coupon per item, and they don't enforce the expiration dates. I keep a stash . . .

One more thing: I don't know if you noticed the candles, but we have wreaths and novena candles in the appropriate liturgical color of the day. You can read about that project here.


Mary said...

Love it! Particle board is a great idea. Our kitchen table is too small for our family now, as well. How do you keep it from getting knocked off if someone leans on it? (This would happen in my house)

I am a fan of tablecloths. You should check out TJ Maxx or Homegoods and Marshalls. They have lots of table linens for good prices. Also, I got one of those table cloth crumb things that my kids use to clean off the table. It has bristles that pick up the crumbs as you drag it across the cloth. I got it from an infomercial when I bought a Swivel Sweeper so the kids could assist me with the cleaning. It was a bonus gift, but if you're interested, I'm sure they can be found elsewhere.

Beautiful table! Now I must read about your novena candle. I always forget my novenas. Forgetful!

Barbara said...

We laid some shelf liner (that sort of rubbery mesh stuff) on the "real" table to keep the board from sliding around. That, plus teh weight of the board itself, keeps it from tipping. I've got about 14" hanging over each end, and we haven't had a problem.

Barbara said...

BTW, we use candles in the liturgical color of the day (saint, martyr, Lent, ordinary time, Mary, etc.), not specifically for novenas. I've found over time that the glass novena candles, which come in every color I need, are easier to manage/burn (and are scent-free)than the pillars I tried first.

Gail said...

I love the idea of using a tablecloth regularly, but have had trouble with grabby toddlers and crafting/coloring. Last time I had a tablecloth on the table it got scribbled all over. Do you have a separate table for that kind of thing?

Barbara said...

The table is big, and especially when it is set, it's not easy to pull the cloth off. You could try shelf liner under it (instead of the pad) to make it really tough to yank!

For coloring or painting, we just roll or fold back part of the cloth. We sometimes have to remind children to roll it back (markers are much worse than crayons!), but we haven't had any disasters. The tabletop has been polyurethaned and is easy to clean. Sometimes we put newspaper under the artwork, too.