No offense to the French Riviera or the Med, but Swedish summers are simply the best. You may think of Scandinavia as a cold and mysterious Stieg Larsson backdrop, and, well you’re not wrong—in the winter, things get pretty dark and dreary. But come summertime, the sun barely sets, temperatures are pleasant and there’s a sense of celebration that the warmer season is finally here. Part of that celebration involves lots of gatherings with friends and family, whether it be for a Midsummer celebration, a crayfish party or just enjoying the late sunset.
It sounds pretty magical, right? If you too want to embrace those Swedish summer vibes, you’ll need a few things in your entertaining arsenal: some akvavit, an oilcloth (a “vaxduk” in Swedish) for your table and a few servings of pickled herring (just kidding—jars of fish optional).
The oilcloth is one of those products that you don’t think you need until you try it and then don't know how you ever possibly entertained without it. Made from cotton or linen, oilcloths are a must-have because they’re coated with boiled linseed oil, PVC or vinyl to make them waterproof.
You might have seen one of these cloths before—maybe a dainty version at a potluck or a red checkered one at your local Italian restaurant, but in Sweden, these tablecloths are used for all sorts of occasions and are actually quite chic. I just came back from a two-week trip to the Stockholm archipelago and saw them at coffee shops, friends’ houses, indoors, outside—anywhere really. You can buy them from large department stores or homeware boutiques on a roll and cut the fabric to size so that it perfectly fits your table. They’re much nicer than your standard plastic cover, but are still stain resistant for easy clean-up.