How to Do a Table Swag

Benna Crawford

Simple sinuous lines define and embellish the edges of celebratory tables when you add decorative swags to party decor.

Swagging a head table or the guest tables at an event adds an extra flourish to plain decor for minimal expense and effort. Whether you go for classic tulle, woven fairy lights or greenery, make sure the tablecloths are well-secured -- and get more swag material than you think you'll need. All that draping eats up garlands and fabric.

Bridal Party

A head table at a wedding reception takes a lot of tulle, but the weight won't pull the cloth forward when you use a clever trick to secure it. Set up the table with the skirt and top cloth and then attach C clamps to the table edge at each corner and wherever you have two tables pushed together to create the long table. Two tables use three clamps, and three tables get four clamps. It's easier if the clamps match the tablecloth, but not necessary because they are hidden behind the fabric. Simply fold your tulle in half and place the fold at the table's midpoint, unfold it and start at one end to make the drapes. Gather tulle into a bunch and fix it to the corner clamp with a cable tie, tucking the extra fabric around the tie and fluffing it behind the drape. Attach gathered tulle at each clamp, draping the lower part of the fabric deeply and evenly between each clamp. Trim the cable ties, and you're finished.

A sweet extra touch is to add a tussie mussie at each gathered spot along the swag. Tussie mussies are tiny bouquets of herbs and flowers, usually with symbolic meanings. A tussie mussie for a wedding reception table might be a rounded bunch of white stephanotis, lily of the valley and baby's breath, tied with narrow white or colored trailing satin ribbons. Ribbons or flowers in the wedding colors could pick up the colors in table centerpieces.

Green Garlands and Sparkly Stars

Round tables to hold gifts at a shower, sign-in books at a reception, and guests at a garden party or in a holiday hall -- finish them all off with a garland of twisted greenery, draped around the circumference of the table like a swag. Cover the table, or tables, with extra-long full cloths to pool luxuriously on the floor. An under-cloth may be duct-taped to the table and the formal cloth layered over it for a luxurious look that won't pull askew when you add the swag. At regular intervals around the edge of the tabletop, place a large safety pin, pinning it from the underside through all the layers of fabric. Attach the green garland to the safety pins with green twist ties, looping the greens evenly or in alternate deep and shallow loops around the table. Add some sparkle with battery-operated fairy lights, wrapping them around the garland before swagging the table, or looping them on top of the garland, from pin to pin, and securing them with the twist ties.