You may want to sit down for this.
At some events, the attendees will be seated. Sometimes, they will even sit at tables.
We sense you are not impressed. If this doesn’t seem worth mentioning, it’s because event table plans look much simpler than they really are.
Every time you find your place at an arranged table, you are one fraction of a detailed scheme with a lot of effort behind it. So how do you blueprint a good table plan layout?
We have sat on this for a long time, and it’s time to lay it all on the table. Let’s work our way through some awesome table plan ideas.
Why use a table plan layout?
Leaving the seating up to your attendees? Sounds easy. It seems more natural, right? More fluid.
In fact, people seem to prefer an organised table plan layout. Theoretically, free or open seating will work out just fine. But in reality, it’s just not a reliable plan. And the bigger the event, the more hectic open seating becomes.
Here are a few of the consequences you might encounter at an open-seated event:
- Your decorations are cluttered by coats and other articles. Guests leave them on the chairs to reserve seats for friends and family.
- Gatecrashers can snatch up seats with less risk of being caught.
- Couples can’t find adjacent seating.
- Guests who arrive later may wander around for a long time before they can settle down.
- Guests may squabble over the best seats.
It’s in the organiser’s best interest to run through seating plan ideas and come up with something thoughtful.
Tip: If prevention has failed and your guests have begun to bicker, try some of these conflict management techniques.
What events can benefit from a seating or table plan?
Social events almost always need some kind of seating or table plan layout. Celebration, food, and socialising are all complemented by good seating. Here are a few ideal events for seating or table plans.
Meetings and conferences
Boss at the head, senior members to her right and left. Make sure the conference leaders can see everyone else at the table.
Weddings and receptions
Ever heard of a standing wedding? Neither have we. Keep this event focused on the bride and groom, not on whose seat was filched by whom. Receptions are also a great opportunity to build the perfect table plan for maximum social fun.
Tip: We love this mobile wedding-centric planning tool for marital seating enthusiasts on the go.
Seminars and product reveals
Some minimal seat planning can help older folks and the differently abled rest in seats where they won’t be placed in difficult or awkward situations.
Birthdays (especially kids’ birthdays)
A table plan will be extra important for larger parties. Like when two dozen 8-year-olds are sitting down to pizza and cake. Keep the party under adult control!
Now that you know a little more about the topic, it’s time to cover the how. We’ll start with some basic seating and table plan ideas.
Some key points to check off your list:
- What is the purpose of the event? How will it impact your seating needs?
- Attendance estimate: How many people do you expect to show up?
- Is this a social event?
- Does the venue create any seating limitations?
- Will the seating interfere with any event activities?
Tip: Even the basic shape of your plan layout is a factor to mull over.
Demographics often play a key role in building table plan ideas. As you get a feel for what your guests will look like, think about some of the following:
You can seat family and friends together or apart, depending on how you’d like to shape guest relations. You could also go for a mix, seating people next to just a single person whom they already know.
That way, your guests will enjoy familiar comfort while branching out and meeting new people.
Consider placing similar people next to one another. That is, guests with similar interests, senses of humour, and so on. They’ll probably have an easier time being social.
Baby on board
Parents and their young children may be best seated near the doors in case of…well, you know how it is with kids. The bathrooms should be accessible. If the kids are a little older, they may have the most fun at a separate kids’ table.
Elderly folks may need easy access to bathrooms, so keep that in mind as you plan their seating. Make sure the elderly don’t have to get jostled and lose their seats: Don’t place them at tables that need to be removed during the event.
Hearing and sight loss may also make it difficult to see the action, so try to seat the elderly closer to the event’s main activities.
You weren’t planning on doing this via pencil and paper, were you?
Not when you can use seating and table plan tools like a digital pro! You may even find a ready-made table plan template to pick up and use. Take a look at these three software tools for perfect planning.
This is a broad tool that you can use across multiple desktops and laptops through the same subscription. In addition to comprehensive table and seat planning, you can cover things like guest food and special accommodations. PerfectTablePlan works across a range of event sizes.
For visual-oriented planners, Edraw offers a helpful selection of icons. You can arrange these across an illustrated bird’s-eye layout of the room. Artistic organisers can actually draw their ideal setups. Fun!
The mobile-accessible table planner of your dreams. This platform is used exclusively online. Accessibility through your phone means you can make all kinds of additions during your busy day, no matter where you are.
Kids these days…
If it’s a longer event, kids may need a little entertainment. Goodie bags or other party favours can ease this issue a little bit. Avoid things like liquids and messy toys. Little drawing kits are a perfect option to keep them neatly occupied.
Where are we?
Your guests should not have to play a guessing game before locating their seats or tables. A table plan layout chart should be displayed near the entrance to the seating area.
You can (and should) also place cards or placards on the tables to indicate which table is which.
Tip: Inject style and flavour into your functional signs with some great designs.
It doesn’t all have to be alphabetised seating and numeric table labels. Try your hand at some of these creative seating and table plan ideas.
What’s in a name?
Find a fun theme for your tables! This is totally up to your creative side, though your guests will enjoy being in the know, too.
You can name the tables after Star Trek characters or famous dance moves. You may even get a little friendly competition going. (“Which table is named after the greatest mob boss of all time?”)
All decked out
Beautify your tables with party favours, glitter, decorative placards, coffee table books, or anything else that will add to the event. This can also give guests a little something to do in case of unexpected downtime.
Lay out your table decorations before the event to make certain everything fits in place. Less is more: You don’t want to clutter your tables!
Tip: Learn the fabled art of table decoration and give your guests something to remember.
Take a seat
Getting told to sit down has never been so thoughtful. What are your secret seating and table plan techniques? Comment below and let us know.