Any party planner will tell you that making up the perfect seating chart is challenging, but can be managed. Though it seems a daunting task when you first undertake to do it, if you follow our tips below, you'll find it's easy to chip away at that long list and get everyone into the best seat possible.
Here is our seating formula, which works whether you're assigning seats individually, by just table number, or by table number and specifics seat.
For most situations the best way to manage seating arrangements is with escort cards like you'd find on the table at the entrance to a wedding or larger celebration, or by place cards for smaller affairs.
Tips to Make the Perfect Seating Plan
First, get your hands on a floor plan of the venue you're having the party at or make your own. Do your best to diagram the layout, number of tables and key points in the room - i.e. entrances, exits, bars, bathrooms and DJ/Band. Don't concern yourself with measurements unless you're responsible for making sure everything fits.
Once you have that, find out how many tables there are, as well as the number of people each table can accommodate. If you're organizing a dinner for fifty, try to get five tables of ten (if the venue is not equipped with tables of that size, put together two of eight and say hello to intimacy). For larger gatherings, 14 is really the limit you'll want to approach per table.
To make things easy on yourself, enlarge the diagram with the number of the tables, and laminate it (we'll explain why later).
Get non-permenant sticky tabs and using your master guest list as a guide, write each person's name on a label and place them in groups of six, eight, or ten, depending on the table situation. Be careful. Forgetting someone would be a major error and can cause a lot of trouble later on!
From that point, stick labels on the chart. Because you laminated it, it's easy to pull stickers off if you're not happy with the results. Move the labels around until you have something that works.
Then decide which tables you want near each other and number them. Table coordinates, which is where the tables are located within a space, are just as important as who's sitting at the seats around them. Return to that first step where you identified key points in the space - you don't want to seat grandma next to the DJ and the younger adults will appreciate a shorter walk to the bars.
Check the master list again to ensure you seated everyone who has RSVP'd. Photocopy the chart and check it all again - you don't want to miss anyone!
Make sure you have extra chairs nearby so you can seat extra guests who show up or you did actually miss. Also if the venue has extra tables, dress them up with centerpieces, just in case you add people at the last minute.
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