Unique Ways to Dress a Cocktail Table

7 Unique Ways to Dress a Cocktail Table

If you’ve been to a wedding, chances are you've seen or stood around a cocktail table. Cocktail tables, also known as highboy tables, bistro tables, pub tables or tall tables, are used most commonly for the cocktail hour between the wedding ceremony and reception. With guests mingling amongst each other, appetizers or drinks being passed out, these tables are essential so guests have a place where they can easily set food and drinks down at.

While mainly used as a conversation area, cocktail tables are part of the big day and they should look equally beautiful as the rest of the wedding reception tables. If you are not familiar with tall table decor or simply looking for new ways to dress them up, you've come to the right place. Today, we will be showing seven great ways to dress a cocktail table for the big day!

Finding The Perfect Cocktail Table Cover

Highboy Cocktail tables come in varying heights including 24”, 30”, 32”, and 36” in diameter, with the most common height of 42” or bar-height. These tall tables are often pretty standard and stark in appearance, which is where cocktail table decor and linens come into play!

One of the favorite ways to decorate cocktail tables is by using Spandex Table Linens. These stretch spandex cocktail table covers offer the easiest and most convenient table styling because of their wrinkle-free properties and ease to stretch on and off the tables. These spandex cocktail table linens fit like a glove on standard cocktail table sizes. Add table caps in a different color or opt for caps embellished with sequins, the overall appearance of the table will instantly change!

Yet these options might leave a little to be desired, which is why loose-fitting tablecloths and overlays can help. The different materials choices, additional colors, and of course the variety of textures and patterns, will take the decor to a whole new height! Flowy White Tablecloths are perfect for pairing with cocktail table covers with the wedding’s color scheme, or leave them as they are! Simply add a garland or a bow to tie around the upper base.

What is the best tablecloth size for cocktail tables?

Most cocktail tables have a height of 42” and the ideal floor-length linen for a 24” cocktail table will be a 108” round tablecloth. For a 30 inches table the best tablecloth size is 114” round and 116” round for a 32” table. Lastly for a 36” cocktail table, a 120” round table linen will provide a floor-length tablecloth drop.

If you want to create a cinched look with table runners, sashes or garlands, use a tablecloth in the one or 2 size up. Make sure you have the correct cocktail table measurements beforehand to prevent the legs of the table from becoming exposed as the tablecloth is gathered. You can easily find the tablecloth sizes you need by simply entering the height and diameter of the table into our handy sizing chart and it’ll determine the ideal floor-length tablecloth size needed.

With the ideal tablecloth size found, you are ready to style high-top tables at your special event. Check out these seven simple decor ideas to take your cocktail tables from basic to spectacular!

Wedding Cocktail Table Looks

Look #1: Cocktail Table Bow

This style is super easy and quick to apply and results in a very classy and elegant aesthetic. Choose anything from the plain polyester linen tablecloth to a fancy textured linen-like leaf petal taffeta. Choosing a sash in a contrasting color will help the bow stand out.

Once your tablecloth is draped over, take your chair sash or table runner as your sash and loop it around the upper base of the table ensuring both ends are even. From here, you will double knot the sash for stay-security that will allow the bow to hold up better and not slide down the table. Finally, loop it into your classic, bunny-ear bow, pulling and fluffing until your bow is captured in your desired look.

  • Tip: Using a wider sash will be able to create a bigger bow for a more dramatic effect.
Cocktail table

Look #2: Greenery Garland Tie

This unique table styling is achieved in a way very similar to the bow style, but the sash is replaced with a greenery garland that gives a more natural and even rustic look that is ideal for outdoor events or vintage/barn-themed weddings.

Any style of greenery can be used to play up your theme, and the fresh or faux silk greenery garland can be tied as loose or close to the base as desired. Any extra garland can be intertwined together for a cohesive, seamless look. This choice will coordinate with any table linens, but pairs especially well against a simple white table covering.

Cocktail Linens with Greenery Garland Tie
Cocktail Linens with Greenery Garland Tie

                                                                                       Left photo credit : Picture Perfect Petals

Cocktail table

Look #3: Cascading Pooling Effect

This cocktail table decor is most alluring and is both romantic and glamorous, particularly with glitz sequin linens set against a solid tablecloth. This cocktail table decor idea is very convenient if the specialty linen is not available in the ideal size for your cocktail table.

To achieve this look, you will need the top linen to be similar in size to the base linen, or slightly smaller. Once placed over the base linens, adjust one end of the specialty linen to the desired drop around the table. Then, gather the extra fabric to the front and tie it into a simple knot. Lastly, arrange the extra material at the base of the table.

Tip: Mesh-backed glitz linens are perfect for this style because they have added flexibility

Photo Credit: Luxe Destination Weddings

Pink Cocktail Table Cover


Look #4: Curly Willow Ribbon


Curly willow grants an endlessly stylish look with a luxurious cascade. It makes for a great way to add volume and texture to your tables, as well as continues your curly willow theme if  ruffle curly willow sashes or skirts have been used throughout other aspects of your decor.

This fashionable cocktail table tie begins by setting base linen and adding specialty linen on top, similar to the previous pooling effect look. Once the specialty linen is adjusted to the desired drop, you will then gather the extra fabric to the front. Next, pull the extra fabric off the floor and tie it resulting in a bunch-and-drop look. Lastly, add a curly willow sash for an alluring style!

Left Photo Credit : Style Me Pretty

Twisted Cocktail Table Cover

Look #5: Twist Effect

An ethereal, sophisticated look, the twist effect cocktail table tie is a quick and simple way to create an upscale ambiance. After finding the ideal tablecloth size, opt for the next size up to allow for the "shrinkage" that will occur with the twisting effect. For this style, choose a tablecloth that will provide a smooth finish such as lamour satin or polyester tablecloths.

To get the look for your cocktail tables, the tablecloth will simply be twisted around the base of the table until it is gathered as tight as possible. Then let the remainder of the tablecloth drape into a slight puddle on the floor. 

For a sharper look, pass a fabric steamer over the Round Tablecloths to remove any wrinkles created during the process. The completed look is a satisfying twist effect that will instantly catch the attention of your guests.

Photo Credit: Idaho Tents & Events

Look #6: Cocktail Table Cuff

This sweet and simple wedding cocktail table decor idea will minimize visual bulk while still maximizing a dramatic impact. The tie can be placed as high or low on the base of the table as you prefer, however when the sash is placed higher up, the end will look like a martini glass cocktail table! 

Start by looping a wide sash or an elegant table runner, around the cocktail table at the base of the table. Then, make one end shorter and tie both ends into a knot. Extend the sash by its width and start wrapping the base of the table. Continue to wrap it down the length of the table base, overlapping the shorter end, before finally tucking the last remaining bit of fabric under the wrap you have just styled. 

Cocktail table

Look #7: Floral Tie

A couture look for any indoor or outdoor event, the use of fresh or faux floral accents creates a glamorous embellishment for your cocktail table linens. You can style the table in any of the above looks and pair it with these accents, or you can follow this tie idea.

Start with a floor-length tablecloth topped with a square overlay. Then bring the side and back corners of the overlay to the front corner and tie all the overlay fabric with a ribbon. Lastly, add floral decor to hide the tie, you can choose to add fresh or faux florals. You can choose a single flower, like a fabric or foam flower, or you can bring in multiple-size florals with greenery accents for a dreamy cascade effect. 

There you have it! A collection of stunning cocktail table ties options that will transform any plain cocktail table into an impressive work of art. But don’t let this be the end of the transformation, to further enhance the look let's discuss the finishing touches!

Cocktail Table Decor Tips

Remember that because the surface area of these tables is not as great as those of regular tables, cocktail table centerpieces should be minimal. Floral arrangements should be kept simple and small to allow for space to rest a glass or appetizer plate. If the event will be held at twilight, add a lantern centerpiece or add lights under the tablecloth for an ambient glow that likewise gives a dramatic look.

When it comes to the placement of the tables their slender size allows them to be placed practically everywhere. Placed on the outer edges of the venue, cocktail tables impart a more intimate appeal. Some venues offer both indoor and outdoor wedding set-up. To help guests make an easy transition between the cocktail hour and the reception, arrange the cocktail tables so that they lead guests from the bar to the reception entryway. Create a VIP lounge area with spandex 4-way stretch drape curtains tied in faux florals or even fabric bow ties. Simply decorate the perimeter of your garden or patio to create an enclosed yet spacious outdoor area for the rest of the night.

Cocktail tables can also be scattered throughout a reception hall or outdoor event in tandem with regular guest tables, granting varying heights to create heightened visual interest. This is also perfect if you want to keep your guests within the venue throughout the reception program, instead of having them move in and out of the hall during the evening.

Outdoor wedding reception

Cocktails and More!

Don’t let their name determine how these tables are used, their sleek and slender sizes offer a great opportunity to be used anywhere. Use your beautiful decorated cocktail table as a wedding podium, transform them into unique dessert tables, add name tags for a sign-in table, and much more. 

How will you use and dress your cocktail table? From simple touches to extravagant looks, visit us on Instagram and Pinterest for more event decor inspiration!

Our Products

Round Linen Tablecloths
Spandex Cocktail Table Cover
Table Runners

Round Linen Tablecloths

 Stretch Spandex Table Covers

Table Runners

For additional inspiration and magical party décor tips & tricks, check out our Pinterest Page, and be sure to follow our Instagram account.

Related Articles

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.