What are Paper Placemats?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 February 2020
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Paper placemats are mats made out of solid color or printed papers that can be used and then disposed of after use. They can provide an ideal way to protect a table when people are dining, without the inconvenience of having to wash tablecloths or reusable mats made of cloth or vinyl. People can find paper placemats at party stores, at restaurant supply stores, in some grocery stores, at warehouse stores, and on numerous online sites.

Some people choose to use paper placemats on the bare table where they can help protect against messes. Others prefer to place them on tablecloths, where they may assist in keeping bad stains off the cloth. They may or may not feature backing that makes them non-slip and less likely to transfer stains or spills to tables or cloths beneath them. Usually denser paper placemats or those with any type of plastic backing are likely to be slightly more expensive.

Price ranges significantly on paper placemats, but people can purchase them online in cases for large events or even home use of a thousand mats or more. Though some simply choose solid color mats, there are a number of patterns and designs available, and even themed mats, which can be coordinated with other “party themes.” For instance you can buy religious themed mats or jungle themed ones, and many mats have holiday themes for major holidays.


A number of restaurants use paper placemats and may buy thousands of them at a time. In this case, restaurants may special order mats that feature information about the restaurant, or that list menus and specials. Mats are most often used in informal restaurant settings, and are popular in diners and large chain restaurants. They’re also frequently found in fast food settings, where mats may top trays that people take to their tables.

Typical mat size and shape can vary. Though rectangular mats are probably most common, some paper placemats are available in oval shapes. Fancier types may have decorative cutting around the edges.

One fun project for kids is to make paper placemats for special dinners or holiday events. Construction paper, slightly larger than standard binder paper, is ideal for this purpose. Children can put names on placemats, draw on them, or paste different strips of colored paper to create a fun place setting for each guest. Holiday themed mats can feature snowflakes, angels, Hannukah stars, Christmas scenes or a variety of other designs. For those preparing large holiday feasts, occupying kids with a project of this type can be a great way to keep them from getting underfoot while waiting for a holiday to start.


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