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What Linen Do I Need To Hire For My Event?

After you’ve sorted your crockery, glassware, and cooking equipment for your client’s event, you’ll want to make sure all that hard work is framed perfectly with crisp linen to cover the tables you’ve hired in for them.

Published : 26th February 2019

After you’ve sorted your crockery, glassware, and cooking equipment for your client’s event, you’ll want to make sure all that hard work is framed perfectly with crisp linen to cover the tables you’ve hired in for them.

Tablecloths, napkins, chair covers, and table runners protect guests and furniture from stains and spills. But more importantly for your client, the linens act as decorative elements, contributing to the overall look of the event and bringing the venue in line with the theme.

What linen do you need to hire, and how much do you need?

We wanted to give you a full list that covers many types of events to help you with your decision.  

How will the type of event affect my linen requirement?

Here are some simple examples to think about, and what linen you’ll need for each type of event.

  • Tables for dinner – Obvious, but get them on the list. And yes, someone will always spill wine so have some spares!
  • Bar tables – Will the event require a bar and how will it be displayed?
  • Cakes – Weddings generally have a cake table, but other events do too.
  • Present tables – Often forgotten, a table to keep gifts could be essential but left out.
  • Cheese and port – Some events will have extras after the meal. Are they self-serve? Will you need a table for that?
  • Evening guest drinks – Will you need to serve the guests from a new or existing place?
  • Evening buffet – Serving more food later from a central point? Buffets are common for evening food, you’ll need tables and linen for this too.
  • The DJ – Sounds daft (pun not intended), but how will they be set up, and will they need a table and cloth to fit in with the room or marquee?
  • Chocolate fountain? That’ll need displaying too. We suggest doubling up on layers when melting chocolate’s involved!

… we could go on!

Really the aim here should be to get the itinerary and ask the right questions. On the day, if you don’t have enough to go around, you may well lose your evening buffet table or end up re-using dirty linen and tables from earlier in the day if this isn’t right at the beginning. Not ideal.

It’s not just white cloths

When it comes to table linen the majority simply opt for the classic (easy) white linen and cloths… but there’s so much more you could do.

What’s the colour theme of the event you’re catering at? If it’s a wedding this is usually really obvious, but other events will have a theme too though. We can match that!

With over 30 colours of linen and cloths we can help you create a real WOW factor at the event with linen and cloths to match the colours of the flowers, bridesmaids, or the theme of the occasion.

We'll support you in creating an unforgettable event for your clients with our wide range of colours and products.

Here’s  just some of your options:

  • 30 different coloured cloths
  • Matching runners
  • Chair covers
  • Coloured sashes
  • Organza ties

We could also match corporate colours at an event too. Take a look at the full range here.

It’s all about the look – sizing your table cloth and measuring the drop

The look of the tables at the event can have a really big bearing on the overall look and feel of the style and design and hiding the ‘practical’ side of the event is key here.

The round tables are a very functional item and designed to fit into the back of a van or a truck. They’re not a ‘sexy’ looking item. The last thing you need to do then is have the legs and brackets on show during an event.

The best way to cover this is clearly with a good quality table cloth but you need to get the style and dimensions just right.

Luckily for you and other caterers there are bespoke cloths for the tables that fit perfectly and give you the ideal ‘drop’ to cover the legs and give a far greater and more professional look and feel.

Looking to cover the entire table? Here you go:

To work out the drop (Standard Table Height = 30")

If the table is a 6’ round (72”) then a cloth that is 110” leaves you 38” which you need to halve, so that’s a 19” drop from the table.

Need more of a drop? Then go for a 120” as that will give you 24” drop.

This means to cover the 6’ table you’ll need a 130” cloth that will give you a 29” drop.

Here’s how it all works out:

A 6ft table is 72” in diameter.

130”(cloth) - 72” (table) = 58”. Divide the difference by two gives you a 29” drop. BINGO!!!

Round table cloth sizing guide:

  • 6ft round table - you’ll need a 130” round cloth  
  • 5ft round table – you’ll need a 120” round cloth
  • 4ft round table – you’ll need a 110” round cloth

Take a look at our Table and Table Cloth Size Guide

Essentially, you’ll need a round table cloth for a round table. Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how often this is done. A square cloth is cheaper and saves a little money on hire so corners do get cut… but to the detriment of the look of the tables.

This is all down to appearance and the choice of the client, but one thing you may want to consider is disabled access for wheelchairs where you wouldn’t want too much spare drop.

Also you’ll want less of a drop on a childrens’ table where they tend to be moving about more and also not really aware of the cloth versus plates of food situation. Try and avoid any food and plate related disasters!

The full list of linen for your event


Tablecloths (Square) - Square tables might not be always needed but it’s worth checking on the tables being used.

Tablecloths (Rectangle) – Usually used for the bar, evening buffet, gift tables (check the size of the table  for the drop and covering).

Tablecloths (Round) –Make sure you pay attention to the size of round tables and then the drop you need.

Number of cloths needed - Simple but important.

Tables to cover:

  • Dessert table
  • Buffet tables
  • Bar
  • Head/Top table
  • Gift tables

Round tables to cover:

  • Guest tables
  • Cake table
  • Guest book tables


Napkins – Linen napkins look far better but obviously this will depend on the budget your client has. Remember you may want to refresh them for dessert. Order 10% more than you think you need.

Chair Covers - Chair covers add an air of elegance and uniform to the event and hide any mix and match chairs with different colours at the venue.

Chair Sashes – Coupled with the above you can really dress the chairs to impress, as well as matching a colour theme, so it’s worth offering them to your client.

Waiting Cloths – Easy to forget, but essential for that serving style.

Oven Cloths – Kitchen basics but you’ll need them and they’re often easier to hire than supply and clean yourself.

You can find the full list of linen for hire for your event on our website.

If you need any advice about your linen or other hire equipment for your event then please do contact us or call us on 01789 491133.

We have years of experience in the catering equipment hire and event hire industry and we’d be happy to help!

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We deliver throughout Birmingham, Coventry, Leamington Spa, Redditch, Solihull, Stratford upon Avon, Warwick, Worcester.

if your event is in any of the following counties we would absolutely love to quote:-
West Midlands
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