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Table Numbers

Table numbers are one of the key pieces of stationery at many events, particularly wedding receptions and formal sit-down engagement parties, birthday parties, corporate events and similar. Whether they’re freestanding, part of a decorative display, or held with table number holders, they can add a lot to the decor and serve a number of practical purposes. But do you really need them, and what are your options?

Why have table numbers?

Table numbers serve a number of different purposes, but there are three big ones: for guests, for staff, and for decoration. 


1. Table numbers help guests find their seats

When guests arrive at a sit-down meal where there are lots of people present, the first thing they do is look at a seating chart or pick up an escort card. Both of these methods are designed to work in conjunction with clearly displayed table numbers, directing guests to the correct table. Once at the table, place cards may be used to specify their exact seat or they may be allowed to choose their own. 

It’s always best to give guests the table number you would like them to sit at, even if you don’t assign seating beyond that. Why? People naturally opt to keep their own space, and like to sit in groups with other people they know. Once a table is over half full, people will start to look at it and think ‘that one’s full’, especially if they’re looking for enough seats for them and their friends. They also want to avoid the awkwardness of intruding on another friendship group, so they’ll look for their own table. This will usually end up with lots of people milling around looking for seats, and lots of individual seats free on tables that nobody wants to take. For this reason, it’s usually advised that you provide up to 50% more seating than you need when letting people choose their own tables. Table numbers can save all this hassle by making sure tables are actually full.


2. Table numbers help servers and staff

Servers and other staff members often rely on table numbers to ensure everything is delivered to the correct table as efficiently as possible. In restaurants or venues with fixed seating plans table numbers may be familiar to staff without the need for signs, but at big events you may be dealing with a completely unique table layout or temporary staff who are unfamiliar with things. Clearly visible table numbers can be invaluable in making sure the event runs smoothly. 

It’s always best to consult with your venue when making any decision about table numbers to ensure you don’t do anything that hinders their workflow. 


3. Table numbers tie your party together

Stationery is something that ties an event together from beginning to end: from the save the dates and the invitations through to the thank you cards. On-the-day stationery is a key part of continuity in decor, whether you’re dealing with a corporate event or your wedding day. Since table numbers are in a highly visible position on every table, they become a big part of your decoration scheme, so getting beautiful table numbers can add a lot to the event. You may opt for very sleek, professional table numbers for a corporate event or something very pretty and decorative for wedding table numbers, but either way they help set the mood and tone of the day. 


Table numbers for every occasion 

Basically any event where there will be tables can benefit from table numbers. They are most popular at large events where there will be lots of tables to keep track of, to assist guests in finding their seats and/or servers in serving food and drinks and communicating among themselves. This means table numbers are most necessary at weddings, family reunions and corporate events. 

People looking for wedding table number ideas and other reception table number ideas aren’t the only people who look for creative table numbers. Lots of people are also hunting for beautiful restaurant table numbers or cafe table numbers for their business or just as a dining table decoration for their home. Beautiful cafe table number ideas enhance the space, and people are increasingly looking to incorporate great print design into their lives and events in every way possible. 



Alternatives to table numbers

Some people find the idea of simple table numbers boring and want to try something a little more personal. There are two popular ways of achieving this: table names and table themes. Basically, instead of having tables assigned numbers you may have them named after different countries or cities, your favourite bands, or something else relevant to the event. Alternatively, you may have a theme for the table. Colours work perfectly, and are easily identified from afar. 

If you’re thinking of doing something creative with your tables, remember to consult with your venue first to make sure this won’t cause any problems. Numbers are sequential, and it’s easy for staff members to remember which side of the room has the higher numbers. The ‘Chicago’ table could be anywhere! An extra minute or so added to serving time can add up to a lot over the course of the evening. It can be best to find a compromise by having tables named and numbered: have the sign read ‘7. Little Mermaid’ so guests know they’re on the ‘Little Mermaid’ table and servers know that is table 7. 


Styles of table number

When ordering table numbers, consider how you would like them to be displayed. This will help you make choices about whether the numbers are double-sided or single-sided, and what size they should be. Popular options include: 

Free-standing - table numbers can be printed so that they fold in half like a placecard, which means they will be able to stand on their own without the need for a table number holder. 

Table number holders -  table number holders (also known as table number stands)  are designed to hold the cards with the table number on them. This might be as simple as a piece of timber with a slit cut in it, or it could be a wire stand with a clip at the top.

Centrepieces - table number cards can be incorporated into your centrepieces. A common choice is to tie them around a vase of flowers or nestle them in the middle of a bouquet. 

Framed - table number cards can easily be framed for a decorative way of displaying them. You may want to use multiple frames on a table to ensure the table number can be read from multiple directions. 

Some people also choose to skip traditional paper cards and opt for creative ideas like wooden table numbers or table numbers written on balloons or on candle holders. This is completely fine, just remember to check with your venue and make sure the numbers are clear and readable for both guests and staff members.

Some people look for free printable table numbers or other diy table numbers to try to save money. This can be a great option in some cases, but it’s important to be aware of hidden costs and the time involved in the printing process, as well as the limitations in range and style options that come from relying on freebies. If you’ve factored those things into your decision making, that’s another alternative to consider. 

By far the best way to be creative with your table numbers is to choose a unique print type that will stand out. We offer a range of table numbers wedding or other event in different print types to help you be creative, including print on wood table numbers and real foil table numbers

Paperlust’s Table Number Size

Paperlust offers a wide range of table number design templates from which you can choose. Whether you're searching for modern, rustic, or formal designs, we have you covered. The table number card size offered by Paperlust is 127x178mm for all shapes.


Popular table number design types

Some of the most popular styles and design types of table number template include:

If you’ve chosen to use an event or wedding table number holder or table number stand (again, you might know them as table numbers on sticks), you should also consider what style of holder you want to use. Some popular choices include:

  • Vintage table number holders

  • Wood table number holders

  • Rustic table number holders

  • Metallic table number holder gold, silver, copper etc.