I have a beautiful table and chair set, all wood and what I always wanted -- before I had kids! I cut up an old twin mattress pad into the shape of my table top, plus about an inch extra all the way around. Then I put a pretty fabric tablecloth on, and THEN (as if this isn't enough!) I put clear plastic over that! Basicall, what I have is like a vinyl tablecloth, except a little bit prettier and a lot more durable. My wood table top was getting used and abused! We weren't going for the distressed look!
But I get more anal than that! After the tablecloth is in place, I bought the cutest green checkered small-width blanket binding (like ribbon, but sturdier). I CUT holes in the plastic AND the table cloth so I was able to tie the cloth in place. Voila! A total old biddy aunt way to protect your table!
I also used the twin mattress pad as padding for his little rocking chair...it went a long way!