I heard a while ago that mismatched in the kitchen and dining room is in vogue. How fortunate since this house has been mismatched for the last 29 years. When you have a large family dreams of having matching dishes, glasses, and cutlery is just that, a dream. Kids helping in the kitchen equals broken dishes and glasses and silverware that has inadvertently been tossed out with the garbage. Then there are the spills, splashes and splatters that leave a mother wondering if she can ever set a lovely table again. I say a most resounding YES! Not only can you but you must especially if you have boys. (No Ryan I no longer believe in totally taming the male of the species) But boys too need to learn to function in gentler more civilized settings.
So how do you go about this without both expense and loss of sanity? Over the years we have always used linens on the table. Not because I am a grand person or anything like that but because economically they are just smarter. Anything and everything can become a table cloth. The one below is an Edie Bauer shower curtain that was purchased at a consignment store! I have used yard goods bought on clearance that were simply hemmed to finish, antique linens from yard, estate, and consignment sales bought for a song. Napkins can be made from dish towels bought at the dollar store, cut in two and finished. Into the regular laundry they go, no special upkeep. As for table cloths an inexpensive plastic cover can be bought at WalMart or by the yard at the fabric store. Place it over your table cloth and it will save washing that cloth after every spill and splatter.
Presenting a pretty table not only makes you feel that your home is more welcoming but it inspires everyone who sits at your table to harken back to a simpler time.