What to Use Instead of Placemats

What to Use Instead of Placemats? (Pretty DIY Placemats)

When it comes to hosting a formal dinner or event, creating an elegant table setting is essential. Placemats are a common item used to protect the table and add a touch of sophistication to the overall presentation.

However, sometimes there are better options than placemats due to practicality, budget constraints, or personal preference. So what to use instead of placemats?

In this article, I will explore creative and practical alternatives to placemats to enhance your dining experience and impress your guests. Whether you’re looking for something eco-friendly, low-cost, or unique, I’ve got you covered.

So read on and create a unique and stylish table setting for your next party.

Common Alternatives to Placemats

Let’s dive into the world of placemat alternatives and explore the endless possibilities! I’m excited to share with you four of the most popular options:

1. Table Runners

Are you looking to add a touch of style and color to your table? Look no further than table runners! I love how versatile and customizable they are, with options for all shapes, sizes, and materials.

Whether alone or on a tablecloth, table runners can complement any occasion or table size.

2. Tablecloths

You can’t go wrong with a tablecloth for a classic, timeless look. As someone who appreciates elegance and sophistication, I strongly suggest tablecloths.

They are available in various shapes, including rectangular, circular, or square, and no matter the color or material you choose, tablecloths provide a beautiful foundation for your table setting.

3. Charger Plates

Add charger plates to take your table setting to the next level. These large decorative plates are placed beneath your dinner plates and come in various materials, such as glass, porcelain, and metal.

Not only do they elevate your dining area’s theme and color scheme, but they also exude a touch of sophistication that I adore.

4. Coasters

Coasters are an excellent solution for those who want to keep their table free from water rings and stains. These small decorative pieces come in various materials, such as cork, wood, and marble. Not only can they protect your table, but they can also add an extra layer of style and sophistication to your table setting.

As someone who values functionality and aesthetics, coasters are a must-have for any table setting.

Creative Placemats Ideas

With so many alternatives to placemats, you have the freedom to find the perfect option that matches your style and needs. So why not mix and match, get creative, and have fun?

1. Washable Fabric Napkins

Washable fabric napkins are practical and add a burst of color and texture to your table setting. They’re a great eco-friendly option, too, as they can be washed and reused.

2. Cutting Boards

Consider using wooden or marble cutting boards as plate bases for a more rustic look. They provide extra protection to your table surface and add a natural and earthy vibe.

3. Decorative Tiles

For a more artistic look, decorative tiles like a mosaic or patterned tiles can be a creative alternative to placemats. You can choose from various colors and designs to create a unique and personalized look for your dining area.

4. Leaves and Flowers

You can use leaves and flowers as placemats for a touch of nature. Banana leaves can add a tropical feel when placed under the plate, while you can arrange flowers in a pattern on the table surface to create a stunning and elegant look.

DIY Placemats

Making your placemats can be a fun and easy way to add a personal touch to your dining table decor. Here are some ideas for creating your own DIY placemat that will surely impress your guests:

Fabric Placemats

For a classic look, fabric placemats can be a great option. Choose a fabric that complements your table setting and cut it into rectangles or any desired shape. Hem the edges to prevent fraying and add embellishments like embroidery or applique for extra flair.

Woven Placemats

Woven placemats made from natural materials like rattan, seagrass, or bamboo can be a great option if you’re looking for a more natural and rustic look.

You can follow a simple basket weaving pattern, create your design, and finish the edges with a simple overhand knot or fringe.

Chalkboard Placemats

Chalkboard placemats can add an element of fun to your table setting. You can buy a sheet of chalkboard vinyl or paint a piece of canvas or heavy paper with chalkboard paint.

Cut the vinyl or painted surface into placemat-sized pieces and use chalk to write your guests’ names or draw fun designs.

Paper Placemats

Paper placemats made from decorative paper like scrapbooks or wrapping paper can be an excellent choice for an easy disposable option. Cut the piece into the desired size and shape, and layer multiple sheets together for added durability.

You can also add a transparent adhesive contact paper layer to protect the surface.

Cork Placemats

Cork placemats are a sustainable and eco-friendly option. You can buy cork sheets and cut them into placemat-sized pieces or use cork coasters arranged in a pattern. Decorate with paint, stencils, or markers for added flair.

Painted Placemats

If you’re feeling creative, painted placemats can be a great way to show off your artistic skills. Choose a plain fabric and use fabric paint to create your design.

Use stencils or freehand painting to create patterns, shapes, or images. Let the paint dry, then iron the fabric to set the design.

Tessel Placemats

Tassel placemats can add a touch of bohemian flair to your table setting. Use yarn or embroidery floss to create tassels and attach them to the corners of a fabric or woven placemat. Create tassels in different colors and sizes to add variety to your table setting.

Felt Placemats

For a playful and colorful option, felt placemats can be a great choice. Cut felt sheets into placemat-sized rectangles and use fabric glue or needle and thread to attach felt cutouts like shapes or letters to the surface. You can also create a patchwork effect by layering different colored felt pieces.

Crochet Placemats

Crochet placemats can add a delicate and intricate touch to your table setting. Use crochet cotton or yarn to create a pattern like a lacy or textured design. You may use different colors or sizes of crochet hooks to create variety in your placemats.

Leather Placemats

Leather placemats can be an excellent choice for an elegant and rustic look. Choose soft leather in a neutral color and cut it into placemat-sized rectangles.

Use a leather punch to create a decorative border, or add leather lacing or stitching for extra detail. Leather placemats are easy to clean and maintain with a damp cloth or leather conditioner.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Alternatives to Placemats

Choosing the perfect alternative to placemats can be daunting, but by considering a few key factors, you can find the best option for your dining area.

Size and Shape of the Table

One of the most important factors to consider is the size and shape of your table. For instance, a table runner could be a great choice if you have a large rectangular table, whereas a small round table might benefit from a coaster or decorative tile.

Material of Table and Dinnerware

Another critical consideration is the material of your table and dinnerware. If you have a delicate wooden table, avoid using hard materials such as a charger plate or tile that may scratch the surface.

Similarly, if you have delicate dinnerware, a hard material like a charger plate may cause damage or scratches to the dishes.

Style and Theme of Dining Area

It’s also crucial to consider the style and theme of your dining area when choosing an alternative to placemats.

For example, wooden cutting boards or fabric napkins may fit perfectly if your dining area has a rustic theme. Consider using a simple coaster or charger plate if you have a modern or minimalist theme.

Practicality and Ease of Maintenance

Finally, consider the practicality and ease of maintenance of each alternative. Some options, such as tablecloths and fabric napkins, require more maintenance and cleaning than others, such as coaster or charger plates.

Choosing an alternative that is practical for your lifestyle and the level of upkeep you are willing to commit to is crucial.


Placemats have been a traditional staple for formal table settings, and numerous alternatives can be just as functional and stylish.

The possibilities are endless, whether you opt for eco-friendly options, such as reusable cloth napkins or repurposed materials, or a more creative approach, such as using decorative chargers or unique centerpiece arrangements.

By exploring different options and experimenting with your preferences, you can create a unique and unforgettable table setting that will impress your guests and elevate your dining experience.

So, the next time you’re hosting a dinner party, consider trying one of these alternative options instead of the standard placemat and prepare to be amazed at the results.

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