In this era of uncertainty and especially the rapid evolving event and party rental industry, there’s always going to be one constant.
It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a smaller backyard party or a 100 person wedding - guests need something to congregate around, and what’s easier to congregate around than cocktail tables?
So you have your guest count and you know cocktail or high top tables are an absolute necessity to any event - big or small.
All that is left to answer is just how many tables are you going to need?
Like all questions concerning event tables and chairs, there’s not really one absolute answer.
Every event and party are different(unless you get into a delorean with doc brown and plug in your senior year of high school, in which case no party is different).
Just because there isn’t one sole solution to ‘’how many cocktail tables are needed per guest’ doesn’t mean we can’t help or offer some expert guidance!
How Many Cocktail Tables Do I Need Per Guest?
Like we said before, whether you’re celebrating a wedding anniversary or conference center, you should expect guests to gather around tables.
There’s one school of thought that says older guests sit while younger guests stand so calculate how many cocktails tables you’ll need based on the younger folks.
I don’t love that. That’s not a school I’d willingly pay tuition to. I’ve seen plenty of 60+ year old men and women with more jump and bump than a couple 30 year olds combined.
Assuming Harriet and Frank will want to sit at a table for the entire event because of their age doesn’t seem fair or very productive.
Better to plan by what you know instead of what you think you know. You 100% know how many guests will be at the party, right? Stick with that.
First, we need to consider how many people can comfortably stand around a cocktail table. 4 or 5 max is the general consensus. Certainly no more than that.
Remember, it’s a high top table so you don’t need to worry about comfortable leg room or accounting for enough space for folding chairs or chiavari chairs.
Let’s start with a smaller gathering to really nail down some hard numbers and move up from there.
At any event, it’s safe to assume that ⅓ of your guests will always want to sit, so you’ll probably want a folding banquet table or round table for that purpose.
At a party that consists of 10-15 people, let’s say 5 of them are sitting around a 48’’ table while enjoying conversation and appetizers(never sleep on the gouda if it’s available).
So now we have 10 other guests to account for. A 36’’ round cocktail table or 30’’ round table can fit about 4-5 people. We have 5 other guests now without a table.
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!
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