By Wendy Mihm | Friday January 14, 2011
There are all kinds of reasons to throw a party—a child’s or adult’s birthday, Cinco de Mayo, Halloween, 4th of July, an engagement, a baby shower – you name it. Sometimes you just feel like having all your friends and their rowdy kids over and making some noise!
Parties can range from formal to very casual, depending on the event you’re celebrating and the preferences of the guest of honor.
If you are hosting the event at a location where you’ll need to provide seating, renting tables and chairs can become expensive, especially if your guest list is large. At first, the cost does not seem so high. You look at the rental website and see that one plastic folding chair costs $1.00 and you think “That’s not so bad.” Then you see that one table for 8-10 people costs about $10.00. Hmm.
Then you realize that you’ve got plastic chairs and uncovered, round, splintery tables. So you need table cloths. Those are an additional $8.00 each. Uh oh. And those plastic chairs are sort of ugly. Maybe you should get those nice wooden chairs, but they’re $2.98 each! Oh boy. You’re expecting 48 people.
48 chairs x $2.98 each = $143.04
5 tables x $10.00 each = $ 50.00
5 table cloths x $8.00each = $ 40.00
Wait a second! $233.04 and you haven’t even fed anyone yet? Seems like a lot if you, like me, plan your parties on budget.
Here’s an idea that I’ve found can work well for casual parties: the picnic style party. Now, if you are throwing a formal event, this is not appropriate and you should make arrangements to properly seat your guests. But if your event is informal, a picnic style party can be festive and fun. After all, everyone loves a picnic!
To accomplish this, be sure to inform your guests ahead of time that they should bring a blanket so they can eat picnic-style in the grass. I found this worked best by responding to my guests’ email RSVPs. I.e. when they emailed me to say they were planning to attend our party, I informed them that it was picnic style and that they should bring a blanket to sit on.
Everyone got on board, and some people even went the extra mile and brought pop-up sun tents and lawn toys like Frisbees and soccer balls!
Clearly you can’t do this every time, or your friends will get tired of bringing blankets to all of your parties. But for a casual occasion, a picnic style party just might be a great way to save money on table and chair rentals when you’re planning a party on a budget.
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