Do the rainy day blues have you and the kids stuck in the house with nothing to do? Here are a few games and crafts you can do to pass the time and entertain children of all ages. Most of these suggestions use a tablecloth. However, some of these suggestions may end up ruining the tablecloth you use. So, for most of these games, it is probably best to hold back your fine formal table dressings and, instead, use a tablecloth requisitioned from the rag pile.
The first game is a personal childhood favorite: the indoor “fort.” All you need is a bedroom, den, or living room and some furniture (beds, chairs, tables, and dressers) along with an abundance of pillows and imagination. Fortunately, this game won’t ruin your tablecloth. However, there is a chance of tearing or staining (especially if you plan on eating in your makeshift fort). Therefore, you will probably avoid using fine table linens for your fort. You will, however want to use a lightweight tablecloth that is sturdy enough to do the job of providing the ceiling for your imaginary fort. Your best bet is to use a large square tablecloth to build your living room castle. Now, there is no set way to build an indoor fort. It can be as simple or as complex as you wish. Basically, you want to move tables and chairs into strategic positions to create the “posts.” Sturdy folding chairs are good because they can be moved easily into whatever place is needed. Once you have furniture placed in four corners you then take the tablecloth and drape it over the furniture to make the tent. Often, you will have to use pillows or something slightly heavy to anchor the large tablecloth to keep the roof in place. Once you have the original structure, it is fun to decorate the fort with pillows and blankets. I used to build mine with a makeshift window so I could watch television while hanging out in my fort. Children love this game. It allows for some creativity in the building of the fort and the use of imagination once it is complete.
The next idea will almost definitely ruin whatever tablecloth you choose to use. Therefore, avoid using the fine table dressings. You can use tablecloths to make costumes. Of course, Halloween is the best time for making costumes, but costumes can be fun in many circumstances, especially parties. Tablecloths are a perfect medium for making costumes. Who can forget the iconic ghost costume worn during the Peanuts classic “The Great Pumpkin.” This is the simplest example of using a tablecloth as a costume. Simply cut out two eye holes and drape the tablecloth over your head. Another simple costume idea that can use a tablecloth is the toga. Of course, the tablecloth toga is a staple of fraternity parties. Again, the movie “Animal House” prominently featured the tablecloth toga. Another costume idea that can be made with a common tablecloth is the classic mummy. Of course, the tablecloth mummy costume will absolutely demolish your tablecloth. You need to take a square tablecloth and cut it into long 3 inch wide strips. Once you have a pile of cut up strips from your sacrificed tablecloth, you simply wrap the strips around the intended mummy. You will have to fasten the strips in various spots to keep them in place. Another thing you can do to make a simple costume from a tablecloth can be done with a black round tablecloth. With a few simple alterations you can use a black tablecloth to create a druid/warlock outfit. All you need is a large dark hood and some sort of a belt (usually a rope) and you have a dark druid costume. Of course, the sky is the limit when it comes to using a tablecloth as fodder for costumes. If you don’t mind cutting and altering your retired tablecloth it is possible to use it as a medium for any costume.
Another way to use a tablecloth as way to promote creativity is to hang an old large rectangular tablecloth as a canvas. A tablecloth is a good medium for artistic expression on a large surface. Once you have hung your tablecloth there are an innumerable amount of ways to turn the canvas into art. One thing that children seem to enjoy is the collage. You can assign four squares of the tablecloth canvas to a particular child and allow them to produce their own artistic piece within their own quarter of the tablecloth. The result will be a tapestry representing the creative expression of each participant that can be hung as a kind of family heirloom. This is a good way to create a family ritual that will leave an artistic timeline of the participants’ interests over the years. The size of a canvas made from a large tablecloth allows for the type of modern impressionism where one wildly flings paint at the canvas. The abstract pieces created in this manner are often more of a cathartic exercise than one of artistic creation. Still, a large tablecloth makes an excellent canvases for artistic creations that will often be less expensive than the one’s sold at a typical art store.
Another fun project that can be done with a tablecloth is tie-dyeing. This won’t necessarily render your tablecloth useless. However, a tie-dyed tablecloth will probably have limited use. It might make a fun accessory for an outdoor picnic table or a theme party. However, you will probably want to keep the tie-dyed tablecloth in storage when you want to host a formal dinner party. For everyone who forgets how to tie-dye, you simply fill several buckets with textile dye (for a large tablecloth you may wish to use larger dye receptacles). Take your tablecloth (you can use tablecloths of many colors) and bunch up parts of the material. Use rubber bands to keep certain parts bunched up and submerge the tablecloth into one of the dye buckets. After the tablecloth has been dyed, repeat the process with the bunching and rubber-banding-dipping the tablecloth into different colored dye buckets each time. When you finish, unfold the tablecloth and you will have a new, brightly colored tapestry that you can either hang or use (in the appropriate context) as a table covering.
Using tablecloths as a medium for art, costumes, or games is a good way to reuse tablecloths that may otherwise lay dormant in a rag pile. This being the case, old tablecloths can also be used as drop cloths for painting or cut into smaller pieces of cloths for household rags. The beauty of the tablecloth is that it has a very specific utilitarian function: to cover a table for protection and to add style. However, once your tablecloths have ceased to function as a traditional table coverings, don’t just throw them away. There are a great variety of things one can do to reuse a large piece of fabric. And, as I have hopefully shown here, some of them can be a heck of a lot of fun!