I changed how I make my seating charts at the start of the year and it is WONDERFUL.
This year I started by making a list of 32 famous artists. I then printed out two copies of this list and cut them out. I taped one set to the table and handed the other set to students as they entered the room. By matching their artist name with the name on the table they created their own seating chart.
There may be a few students who quickly showed they shouldn't be side by side but for the most part this has proved very successful. I give the students a task to accomplish and ask them to leave their planners out at their spot. As they are working, I walk around and copy down their names and fill out my seating charts.
** after 150 students (one day) the papers were showing some wear and tear so I switched it up and just wrote the names onto my tables with sharpies. (dry erase marker takes it off)**