Fact 2: I love my kids.
Fact 3: Kids destroy pretty table cloths and table runners.
Fact 4: I needed to find a way to have #1 and #2 without having #3.
Fact 5: I achieved #4.
Some stores sell clear vinyl table coverings. They are flimsy and cheap and tear quickly. Cheap, printed vinyl table cloths also tear quickly. But kids spill, drip, and leak all sorts of foods and fluids when they're sitting at the table (and when they're not, but that's another post entirely). But I've found the perfect solution.
If you go to the fabric section of Wal-Mart, where they have the bolts of fabric, they also have a rack with big rolls of clear vinyl. They sell it by the yard in different thicknesses. We measured our table and bought enough to overhang the edges a bit, and it cost around $7. Now I can have my pretty cloth table cloths and pretty table runners, without them being destroyed!
It's a little bit shiny, but that's a minor trade-off to have my nice table. I also know families who put the kids' current school projects underneath. For example, a family studying world geography may have a world map underneath. Or older children can slide a copy of their current spelling list underneath, so they can study while eating their breakfast.
But I like the pretties, myself. I'm not a very frilly-froo-froo type of person, but I like an attractive table. =)
What methods have you come up with to have nice things protected from everyday life with kids?