The main consideration in determining the need for place cards at your party is whether you want to let your guests know where to sit or not. If you have reserved a seat for your guests at a Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitvah, wedding or other event you need to let them know where the seating is located. The most traditional means of doing so is by furnishing place cards.
The guests have a certain amount of security knowing there will be a reserved place at an assigned table for them when place cards are available. There is also a feeling of completion on the part of the host knowing that every guest is accounted for. Each guest will be provided a seat when it is dinner (or other meal) time.
For me having place cards is almost a given when planning a party. However sometimes a host does not see it that way.
I recently did a party in a restaurant and the host did not want to have place cards. The party was relatively small, a total of only eight tables. In this case not having place cards did not present a problem. The circumstances were also helped by serving the food buffet style. I do think there would definitely have been some problems if the event had been any larger.
Place Cards As Peace Keepers
Place cards are a sure fire way of keeping the peace at times. People are sometimes not comfortable sitting with people they do not know or if there are ill feelings among particular guests. You might have some guests that are arch enemies and place cards make sure they do not end up at the same table. With place cards they could actually be at opposite ends of the room!
When there are no place cards there are usually some tables that have vacant chairs. I remedied the situation at the above party by having the restaurant add a couple of extra chairs at each table.
This had no affect on the cost of the party since the final cost is determined by the number of people attending the party at a buffet. At a sit down meal the final cost is determined by the number of chairs at all the tables.
Another problem with not having place cards is that people feel they have the freedom to change tables. Perhaps they see someone that they know at another table and move to that table where they feel they would be more comfortable. Someone might actually have dinner at one table and then switch at desert time to another table. With place cards this generally would not happen until after the meal is completed.
Another important factor to consider after the decision to have place cards is made is cost. Prices are as varied as the place card choices. There are many traditional place cards from which to choose. Then there are custom party place cards, which we specialize in offering. Place cards can even double as a gift to your guest.
Whether you do place cards or not is a matter of personal preference. Know who you are inviting and decide if supplying place cards is the right choice for you party or not.