A placemat or place setting is a covering which assigns an individual spot setting, not at all like the bigger table cloth that covers the whole surface. They are produced using a wide range of materials to beautify, excite, entertain or publicize. Materials and production range from mass-delivered to locally produced.

Empty plate with spoon and fork on table background.

Their primary function is to shield the supper table from water marks, food stains or damage from heat. Likewise, they serve as decoration, particularly table runners and placemats produced using ribbon or silk. In restaurants, they can be utilized to promote menu items, specials, nearby organizations and local businesses or games for kids.


Higher end cloth place mats, produced using vinyl or cowhide, are used by hotels and associations for gatherings and meetings as they provide a written work surface, and give a designated space on which to easily lean and to place objects on without a noisy disturbance.

Yellow Christmas holiday table setting with plates, cutlery, baubles, Christmas cracker bon bons decorations, in a yellow theme.

Yellow Christmas holiday table setting with plates, cutlery, baubles, Christmas cracker bon bons decorations, in a yellow theme.

Opinions on the convenience of kitchen table placemats are mixed. Fabric placemats for tables are usually thought to be superfluous and require a great deal of upkeep – compared with the surface of a table which can be effortlessly cleaned, a stained kitchen table linen placemats and napkins must go through the washer and drier before it can be utilized again. In addition, plastic place mats have gained criticism on environmental grounds.



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Placemats create a broken line, and can give a table setting a spotty look. They may, however, be used for simpler meals.

Placemats are recommended for a seated meal of not more than ten people.

To provide elbow room, allow a minimum of 4 inches between placemats.




The alignment of placemats with the edge of the table varies according to the way the table is finished.

Placemats are laid on a bevel-edged table flush with the bevel.

On a straight-edged table, placemats are laid about an inch up from the edge.





Placemats are made in assorted sizes and shapes.

Large rectangular placemats approximately 12 inches wide by 18 inches long or 14 inches wide by 20 inches long hold an entire place setting and are the most popular size.

Small placemats approximately 12 inches in diameter in square, oval, or round shapes hold only a dinner plate; the napkin, flatware, and stemware are laid on the table.

Small placemats extend space at a crowded table, work as hot pads, and emphasize the beauty of the table top.