Tablecloths have been used for thousands of years. Whether using a tablecloth to protect a table, or to match a certain theme, there are many facets to the table linen decision-making process.
Are you buying tablecloths for a wedding or a backyard barbecue? Many weddings tend to use tablecloths to the floor with sheer organza or lace accents to create a romantic ambiance. For a less formal event, cloths may have a 10-12" drop. Fabric choice is tied to the occasion type. Picnic check (Polycheck) for a barbecue, solid white spun polyester for a steakhouse, floral print for a garden club luncheon, patriotic prints for Memorial Day all work to create a cohesive themed event. However, sometimes "thinking outside of the box" works too! Maybe an animal print for a 60th birthday party.
If the venue has strong colors and patterns in the drapery and carpeting, you may want to steer clear of vivid patterns in your table linen choices. If your celebration is outside, you will want to choose something that will stay put on your tables if it gets windy.
Budget always needs to be considered. If you fall in love with an expensive fabric, you may consider using it sparingly as runners or overlays instead of full cloths to the floor. Often the venue will have a selection of solid colors to choose from. You could add your own fancy napkins to give the room your personal touch.
If you are buying linens for a single event, durability may not be your top priority. However, if you are investing in table linens to be used again and again, durability and wash ability need to be considered.
When you are ready to purchase linens, it pays to enlist the help of a professional. When you call the tablecloth manufacturer, ask to speak with the sales/customer service staff for some guidance.