I know we kind of discouraged making decisions based on assumptions but you’ve been to enough parties to know that the other 5 remaining guests will most likely gather in their own little clusters, either in a group of 5 or maybe a group of 2 and another of 3. It’s what we do.
Long story short: 10-15 guests = 1 Cocktail Table.
The math is pretty simple here if you want to just go with the blind rule of 1 table per 10 guests. That’s 5 cocktail tables for 50 guests and 6 tables for 60 guests.
The other important variable that needs to be addressed is the type of party. If there aren’t going to be dining tables then you might actually want to buy 2 tables for every 10 guests.
The same can also be said for wedding venues who offer a cocktail hour in more of a bar room atmosphere that’s separate from the dining and dancing.
People will be eating, drinking and mingling and will eventually need a spot to free up their hands and dive into the mini pulled pork sliders.
Again, you don’t need a table to account for every guest. It’s rare that a group will settle on a cocktail table and hunker down there for the entire allotted time.
They’ll mingle, grab a bite and a drink and move on, clearing the table up for grabs for the next group.
For 50-60 guests, check the lay of the land, account for space and the type of occasion and either buy 5-6 cocktail tables or 10-12 if there are no dining table options.
If you’re hosting a 100-200 guest list then it’s most likely a wedding, wedding anniversary party, class reunion or something with a lot of moving parts.
And if there are 100-200 partygoers then it’s more likely to be a formal function, in which case we’re talking about a cocktail hour/reception and dinner or lunch - meaning dining tables will be used.
Other variables we didn’t hit on before but are more likely to be a part of a larger party are attractions like a photo booth or signing a guest book, all things that do not involve cocktail tables, thus hopefully saving you some money by not buying up pallets of pub tables.
There’s obviously a huge difference in a 100 or 200 guest function but in terms of how many cocktail tables you need? Not so much.
I’d stick with 10 here as long as there are other tables and chairs for those who want to sit.
Then again, you can always buy more and easily assemble them in an emergency - having extra cocktail tables in storage will never be a bad thing!
Connor is the E-commerce specialist and analyst at EventStable. He resides in West Hartford, Connecticut with many leather bound books that make his apartment smell of rich mahogany. You can find him in a local 30+ men's league still hanging on that dream of making it to the NBA