Oval tablecloths are sized by measuring both the length and width of the table and by the degree of formality of the event. The type of meal or reception determines the drop, or overhang, of the tablecloth. Casual brunch or supper calls for a tablecloth with a short drop, while a holiday family dinner merits a mid-length drop. Floor-length drops are reserved for the most formal occasions, such as a wedding reception or banquet.
The correct size for an oval tablecloth is determined by adding the drop length to the table's measurements. One first measures across the narrow width of the table and the length from end to end. For an everyday cloth that protects the table during informal meals, it is best to add at least 6 inches to each side. That means one should add double the drop to both the length and width. Lap length, the most common tablecloth drop, ranges from about 10 to 12 inches. Banquet or floor length is typically a 29-inch drop. Unusual drops often require custom tablecloths.
Common sizes of oval tablecloths include 60 by 84 inches, which covers a table seating six to eight people and 60 by 102 inches, which fits a table for eight to ten people.