is it ok to use placemats with a tablecloth
Kristina Davis

When it comes to setting a pretty table, it is natural to ask, “Is it ok to use placemats with a tablecloth?

No doubt everyone loves sitting down at a table and having fun with friends and family. And it gets better when there is a crisp tablecloth to make everything look tidy. 

But some people want to take it to the next level, and that is when they use tablecloth and placemats together.

Should you do it as well? Or, would that be overkill?

Well, it is okay to use placemats with a tablecloth so long as you consider the theme and remember the basic table-setting etiquettes. 

So, Is It Ok To Use Placemats With A Tablecloth?

use placemat with tablecloth

Though it is not customary to use placemats with a tablecloth, this is not a strict requirement of proper table manners.

Tablecloths are not just for formal dining; they’re also a great way to dress up your table and express your personal flair at casual get-togethers.

But, placemats are more suitable for regular use. It also depends on your unique circumstances.

For instance, if you have a young child who loves spreading their food all over the place, using plastic tablecloths would make a lot of sense. 

Should You Use Placemats With A Tablecloth For A Formal Event?

No, it is not always needed.

A tablecloth that has been expertly draped looks stunning. But, even when using a tablecloth alone, you still need to pay attention to its length.

A length between 8 and 12 inches is ideal for a formal occasion.

You should not put floor-length tablecloths on dining room tables. If you do, you may catch your heel every time you try to get up.  

How Do You Use Placemats With Tablecloths?

how to use placemats with tablecloths

Put a plastic tablecloth on the table and see what kind of fun you can have. Set them in tiers atop a quick-drying fabric tablecloth to set a festive holiday meal!

In addition to serving as a terrific way to preserve the look of an antique table, they are also helpful in protecting the surface of a modern coffee table.

Tip: If you want to prevent the backing from scratching your table, you should use a pad to keep placemats in place. 

Should You Combine Placemats With A Tablecloth?

Yes, you can use them together to provide a touch of class while setting the table for dinner guests.

It is common to wonder if it is considered rude to use placemats on a table that already has a tablecloth on it.  

However, there is no universal rule dictating whether or not placemats should be used on top of a tablecloth.

A tablecloth or runner by itself is often all that is needed to complete a table arrangement.

In case you want to use placemats, you should go ahead but ensure that everyone has adequate room to eat and talk. 

why consider using placemat with tablecloth

Why Should You Consider Using Placemats With A Tablecloth?

If you want to use placemats on a table that has a tablecloth over it, leave enough room for people to see and move around on the table.

Before deciding on a tablecloth, think about how the placemats’ texture, color, and size will go with it.

Tip: Take into consideration the dining area as well as the decor in this room, especially the walls, furniture, and floor to choose the best placemats. 

Here are some reasons why you may want to combine the two:

You Can Play Around With Colors

A tablecloth, placemats, and other subtle accents may make or break a dining table’s aesthetic.

Make your table linens visually appealing by following the same color scheme, using comparable ornamentation, or highlighting similar features.

colored placemats

There are several good guidelines to follow while deciding on a tablecloth in a particular season:

  • Use pastels, whites, and other pastel shades for a wedding’s decor.
  • Stick to yellows and greens in spring.
  • Break out the blues, bright red and stunning patterns in the summertime.
  • Go with plum, dark green, orange, and navy in fall.

But, there are really no rules for certain occasions, like Christmas.

Test out the classic combination of red and green, the sleek sophistication of gold and silver, or the fun nostalgia of blues and pinks! 

You Can Use An Added Layer Of Protection

In addition to directing visitors to their seats, highlighting tableware, and providing visual depth, placemats are an attractive component of table arrangement.

Adding placemats to a table can offer an extra layer of defense against spills.

Tip: Consider the style of your table, like how practical it is as a dining room table or an ultra-modern, contemporary style to pick placemats accordingly.

You Can Add A Touch Of Class

Tables set with placemats boasting eye-catching designs and fascinating details are sure to impress guests.

give a touch of class

When picked correctly, placemats become ideal for both formal events and casual dinners with loved ones at home. 

You Can Experiment With Seasonal Styling

To emphasize the elegance of your table and tablecloth, you can always use placemats that complement them.

Shapes like oval, rectangle, and square are the best options, and you can go with materials such as woven, polyester, linen, and even burlap.

Gather a set of placemats in a variety of seasonal hues to use year-round with your neutral tablecloth. 

How Do You Position Placemats On A Tablecloth?

how to position placemat

Each chair in your party should have a separate placemat right in front. Also, ensure that there should be cloth placemats to match the cloth tablecloths.

You can always combine solid placemats with patterned table runners and vice versa.

Alternatively, you can be bold and pick out table linens with patterns or motifs that go together. 

What Are The Basic Table Setting Etiquettes With Placemats?

So, can you use placemats with a tablecloth? You can!

But, learning how to arrange the table correctly is useful whether you are preparing for a weeknight meal or a weekend brunch. 

The placemat, knife, water goblet, dinner plate, and a napkin that make up a standard table arrangement are all required for a casual get-together. 

proper table setting

Here is how to proceed:

  1. First, spread out the placemat.
  2. Secondly, position the dinner plate in the exact center of the placemat.
  3. The napkin should be placed to the left of the dish.
  4. Set the fork down on the napkin.
  5. A knife should be close to the plate to the right with the blade facing in.
  6. Put the spoon next to the knife, and to the right.
  7. The plate and cutlery must sit flush on the table.
  8. Place the water glass just above the plate, in the space between the plate and the cutlery. 

Are Placemats Required With A Tablecloth?

If you already have a tablecloth, you might not need placemats, at least that is what most experts believe.

placemats on table

However, you should keep in mind that placemats serve as a visual cue to guests and manage the seating arrangement at the table.

It is common practice to use placemats in addition to a tablecloth so that the table is protected and the setting is enhanced. They also offer a place to store silverware and plates until needed.

When hosting a dinner party or other formal event that requires a tablecloth, setting the table with matching placemats brings it all together.

Should You Leave Placemats On A Tablecloth All The Time?

Leaving placemats on the table after each meal is not necessarily considered bad manners.

Having tablecloths out is a visible reminder that the table is only for eating and nothing else.

Many individuals have the bad habit of leaving their undressed dining tables strewn with papers, knickknacks, and other stuff.

leave placemats all the time

It is not a good idea as it can swiftly detract from the aesthetic value of their homes.

So, leave placemats on the table but be sure to pick them in bright colors and exciting patterns.

Tip: Complement your table setting with coordinated napkins, and choose solid hues that will stand out against your placemat's color. 


So, is it ok to use placemats with a tablecloth? Well, it is up to individual preference whether or not to use placemats with a tablecloth. 

There are more pros than cons to using placemats with a tablecloth, so there is no reason not to.

The tablecloth is the focal point of every formal dining table, and placemats will enhance the overall setting. 

Go for appealing textures, colors, and patterns when combining placemats and a tablecloth.