A simple Thanksgiving solution

Thanks to Asha at Parent Hacks, I have stumbled upon a simple living suggestion that I will use this Thanksgiving.

Until yesterday, I had no idea that chalk wrote easily on matte-finish oilcloth. The concept is so basic, yet its implications have my head spinning. I’m no longer trying to think of ways to decorate my Thanksgiving table, entertain the kids during mealtime, or am worried about a centerpiece — I have my solution:

Simply buy enough solid-color, matte-finish oilcloth to use as a tablecloth for your dining table. With either regular chalk or chalk pens, write guest names next to their plates. This replaces any need for place setting holders.

Additionally, you can write menu ingredients next to platters, draw seasonal designs down the center of the table, and give young guests chalk pens to play tic-tac-toe and draw pictures with during the meal.

Matte-finish oilcloth is extremely inexpensive (less than $10 a yard most places) and wipes clean with a damp cloth. And, you can redecorate and reuse it again and again. A piece of solid white oilcloth with colored chalk can make it perfect for everyday use — especially in homes with young kids. Just be sure to cure the oilcloth first.

I love simple solutions.

(Anyone know if this works on just regular, glossy-finish oilcloth? If so, the price per yard is significantly less expensive. Image from Yum Sugar.)

12 Comments for “A simple Thanksgiving solution”

  1. posted by Anita on

    This looks like a great idea!

    Any concerns with chalk coming off the cloth and onto your guests’ hands or clothes, if they touch it? Or smudging if you happen to put anything down on the chalk?

    I expect there might not be enough friction for chalk to “stick” to glossy oilcloth, but would dry erase markers work instead, I wonder? Could reduce the cost…

  2. posted by Noah on

    @Anita the chalk pens don’t smudge off unless they get wet

  3. posted by Lose That Girl on

    Great idea!

  4. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Anita — Noah is 100 percent correct. I’m allergic to chalk dust, so when I was a teacher the chalk pens were my best friends. The chalk doesn’t budge (thankfully!) unless water is applied to it. I guess if you have a beverage spill things could get messy … but I think this would be the case no matter what was on your table 🙂

  5. posted by Gloria - Life in Arabia on

    Another thing on my shopping list for our next trip to the States! Thanks!!!

  6. posted by tay on

    i like alot!

  7. posted by Anita on

    @Noah and Erin — Thanks for the clarification. Never used a chalk pen before, but they sound great!

  8. posted by Beverly on

    This would be perfect for the buffet that we have with every holiday. So much easier to label than keep answering what dish is what! Thanks for the idea!

  9. posted by Amy on

    Erin, I read the link on curing the cloth. Did you cure your cloth ? Do you have to rub the chalk on the underside or the top side of the matte oil cloth? Thanks.

  10. posted by brokensaint on

    Now if only you had some tips on how to unclutter all the drama and angst that comes with family time at the holidays!

  11. posted by Karyn on

    @ brokensaint – LOL. Good luck. 😀 Last year I opted to stay home and enjoy a quiet Thanksgiving in solitude, rather than deal with family drama. This year, I’m feeling a little more up to it, but now and then it’s good to have a year off from the Obligatory Family Gathering on a holiday.

  12. posted by catmom on

    Never heard of this before, but it sounds good to me. A great way to keep younger kids busy and they can bring out their creative side. As Beverly put it, you can label each dish so guests know what is what.


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