How to Figure Out What Size of Linen to Buy

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Party Planning Guide: Dress your table for success

Because your table cares too

By Virginia Frischkorn

You may not believe us if we told you that there is an outfit almost as important as yours at the function you’re hosting... it’s the outfit of the table. The way you dress your table says a lot about the style of your party; dressed to the nines or dressed down, it’s all up to you. As you scheme about how to throw a party at home, start with your linens. An excellent foundation—your table will be set for a successful soirée following these four easy steps.

Note: We are not referring to the way Amelia Bedelia would dress her tables. Just checking that you’re tracking… ;)

how to plan a dinner party

1. What’s the shape of your table?

Square, round, rectangular—the shape plays a huge role in determining the right size linen you’ll need.

2. Is the event more casual or more formal?

Events that are more casual call for the linen length off the side of the table to be 6-9 inches. Formal events should be around 15 inches or to the floor.

how big should linen be

3. What are the measurements of your table?

Measure the length and width of your tables, or for a round table, just the diameter across.

4. Can you bring yourself to do the math?

Don’t hate us for bringing math into this, but we assure you it will be worth doing some minor calculations to see your table perfectly dressed to impress your guests. Don’t stress, we’re here to party-tutor you through it.

how to plan a dinner party at home


T = tablecloth size

D = diameter

L = length

s = side drop

Round Table

Tablecloth size = [table diameter] + [drop off sides of table (see step 2) x 2]

T = D + (s x 2)

how big should my tablecloth be
what size tablecloth should i use

Square or Rectangle Table

Tablecloth size = [table length] + (drop x 2)] by [table width + (drop x 2)]  

T = [L + (s x 2)] x [W + (s x 2)]

For example, if your standard rectangle table is 72x30”, here are your calculations:

Your event is semi-casual, so you will estimate 9” for the side drop. 

T = [72 + (9x2)] x [(30 + 9x2)]

T = 90 x 48

There you have it: For your 72x30” table, snag a linen in the 84x42” range.

how big should my table be

It’s been said that you set the mood of an event based on your outfit, but the truth of the matter is, the table sets the tone of attire for you and your fellow partygoers. No one will be left feeling like they're dressed for the wrong occasion when they see a table matching their fancied up or casual-fied appearance. Now go dress your tables. And don’t forget to check your own attire, too. 

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