If it were up to me, I would never use a tablecloth. They feel stuffy and old fashioned, which is just not the vibe in an apartment with a TV stand made out of cinderblocks (mine). But the naked-tabled lifestyle is reserved for those with pretty furniture, a club I've yet to join (see: cinderblocks). Until the day I can upgrade to a beautiful farmhouse table that's gorgeous all by itself, I'm a person with tablecloths.
Before you get the wrong idea, it's not like I cover my small kitchen table every day. It's an entertaining thing: Back when we could have friends over for dinner, I used tablecloths to conceal the hyper-functional but extremely ugly folding table I pulled out of the closet to accommodate guest lists longer than three people. I couldn't stand to leave the table bare—it is, I must reiterate, the ugliest table in the entire world—so before anyone arrived I would cover it with one of my mom's hand-me-down tablecloths or a bolt of random fabric I sourced from the craft store for this exact purpose. Was this a few shades primmer than I wanted to be, and more than the very informal dinner party called for? Absolutely. Was it a total bummer to end the night doing all the post-host dishes and a load of laundry, thanks to the spills and stains the fabric inevitably collected over the course of the meal? Correct. But I couldn't see another way that still felt cute.
This year, I'm putting a stop to all that. When we can finally eat with friends again, I'm debuting a whole new strategy, inspired in part by the many versions of outdoor dining that dot the streets of my neighborhood. I'm going full wipeable tablecloth, but not the bowling alley birthday party version that phrase may call to mind. Instead of using it to hide an eyesore, I'm making my bold, bright, spill-proof tablecloth the talk of the night.
Whether you've got messy kids (or friends) to think about, are planning to increase your backyard dining, or just want a fun way to cover an unsightly table, wipeable tablecloths are the answer to your table-covering needs. Made either entirely of vinyl or plastic-coated cotton fabric (also called oilcloth), water-proof, oil-proof, weather-proof tablecloths make entertaining a breeze and cleaning up dead simple. And with one of the stylish options below, you don't have to sacrifice vibes for functionality. Punchy florals, fashionable fruit, or vivid stripes are always welcome to the party, especially if they only require a quick wipe down at the end of the night. Scroll on for a few of our favorites.
Inspired by restaurants across the country that deck their tables with bold, easy-to-clean covers—see South Philly Barbacoa, Holbox and Night+Market in Los Angeles, and Nong's Khao Man Gai in Portland—try a graphic, floral oilcloth for a bright and cheerful look. These are busy, but in a cool way—pair with bright and bold dishes, glassware, and linens and achieve a fun maximalist look. Plus, they make great flat-lay Instagram backgrounds.
Remember the year that everything that came down the Dolce & Gabbana runway was covered in produce? No? Just me? Then trust me, these oilcloths would have looked right at home among the lemon dresses and pineapple pants. Recreate the vibe at home by tossing one over your table.
Just because it's waterproof doesn't mean it needs to look like a loud Vacation Dad shirt. These tablecloths are just as easy to clean but a little less wacky in design, for when you're not trying to make so much of a statement. Simple stripes, classic plaid, and basic patterns (that bamboo is a favorite!) are great for year-round use both indoors and out.
Lots of birds
Listen, I don't know what to tell you: a ton of the wipeable tablecloths available online are covered in drawings of birds. If you're considering going flashy with your spill-proof table coverings, bird prints are a great place to start—you'll find everything from multicolored tropical versions to staid rows of chickens.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious