Table placement may seem like a given for event night, but have you considered the placement of check-in, auction, and dinner tables and their relation to one another? Perhaps you’ve assumed that the venue will provide a table large enough for check-in, when in fact, they won’t. 

Table placement has a big impact on event flow, which in turn will affect a guests’ experience at your event. 

When you’re looking to optimize your event’s flow and function, here are a few things –– table related –– to consider…

The following tips are from our Jam Session: Episode 12. 

Check-In 

  • Position the check-in table by the front door so that it’s the first thing guests see when they arrive. 
  • If you’re having a coat check, consider placing the check-in table before coat check so that they don’t have to backtrack once they’re in and ready to enjoy the evening. The two should create a seamless entrance to the event. 
  • Keep the check-in area and table free of clutter so that it’s clean and inviting. It helps to have staff or volunteers welcoming and guiding guests to check-in right when they arrive. Put up signs if you don’t have the extra bodies! 
  • Keep the check-in table for check-in. Don’t use the space for other things, like selling merchandise or a wine pull. It creates confusion and congestion.

Silent Auction + Raffles 

  • The more visible, the better!  
  • Keep auction items (or description sheets) in a high-traffic area, but make sure there is enough space for guests to move around the tables.  
  • Place auction items at eye level. This can be done with risers on the table, hanging item description sheets/boards on the wall, or using easels. This eliminates guests from bending down or straining to read the small print.  
  • If you’re having a cocktail hour it’s ideal to place items near the bar…which guests will keep coming back to throughout the evening! 
  • Keep things organized and minimize clutter, once again. If you’re limited on space display the “hot items” and post signage directing guests to continue mobile bidding and exploring items on their cellphones. 
  • More silent auction best practices here.

Dinner tables 

  • Venues can be tight but consider spacing in between tables to increase guest comfort so that they’re not bumping into each other and servers.  
  • Is a live auction or live appeal part of your program? Space makes it easier for spotters to capture bids and donations if those are part of your program!

Checkout 

  • If possible, have checkout be in the same place check-in was. A table is already in place, and guests will be sure to pass you on their way out.  
  • If you have party favors, consider placing them on their own table by the exit instead of the checkout table.
  • Clear, neat signage tells guests to settle their payments and collect auction items. Some verbiage suggestions are: 
    • “Collect your auction winnings!” 
    • “Complete your donations.” 
    • Settle up with cash, check, or card.” 

FAQ: 

The entryway at our venue is tight. What’s more important: location by the door, or a location elsewhere but with more space for guests to move?
Location, location, location! You want guests to check-in immediately so that you don’t miss the opportunity to collect their information. 

Should auction items be ready to go at the checkout table? Or does that create clutter? Should runners grab them as guests checkout?
If you have enough support and time to bring items to the checkout area before the end of the night, then do so. This helps keep checkout contained in one area. If you can, stash items behind the table rather than on top of it. If you don’t have enough helping hands leading up to checkout, then runners always work too. 

The cocktail area has some tables, but not enough for our entire auction. Should we split up the items?
We recommend keeping your auction items together to keep the auction as an attraction for guests. What you can do with that space in your cocktail area is display a few of your “hot items” so that guests are intrigued while waiting to get a drink. If you put a few items in one area, just be sure that the item description sheet is duplicated and that the item is posted in both places. If you’re using mobile bidding, provide signage for that as well so that guests know they can look to their cellphones for the full auction catalog.

(If you’re wondering how exactly that works, let us know, and we’ll help.) 

Kelsey Woodworth

Kelsey Woodworth is the Content Marketing Manager for GiveSmart and an Auburn University Graduate. Her finger is on the pulse daily for innovations in fundraising, community building, donor relations, and event trends. Kelsey lives in New York City.
Kelsey Woodworth

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