Planning advice for creating the perfect reunion-picture

(ARA) - Every five years your high school or college class has a good reason to celebrate - and you can celebrate with a reunion party.

But the party will never happen unless you solve all the details surrounding the party. Where are you going to put all those people? How can you afford to buy everything? What happens if the weather doesn't cooperate? Who can help you with all those details? Where do you begin?

Many member companies of the American Rental Association have stores dedicated to supplying items and offering the expertise necessary to throw that perfect reunion party. A good first step for party planning is to check out a rental store's Web site for equipment availability. You can find your local ARA store location by visiting

For many, the search begins with a tent. "At this time of the year, anyone planning an outdoor event must account for the weather," says Jeff Corbin, manager of Snyder Lounge, a division of Snyder Event Rentals, North Charleston, S.C. Tents not only help to block the rain but are also effective in providing relief from the sun.

Tents come in a myriad of sizes and designs, but a 20- by 30-foot size is the most popular for reunions, according to Brian DeCoster, president of Big Ten Rentals, Iowa City, Iowa. While local rental companies can help with installation, this is the largest tent that can typically be set up by homeowners and will fit approximately 75 to 100 guests throughout the duration of the party.

Party planners should study designs carefully to ensure the tent is a fit for site conditions. Most are familiar with traditional rope-and-pole tents. However, these cannot be abutted directly against a structure and could require stakes to be driven into a driveway. With no center poles and alternatives to staking, such as heavy weights, frame tents offer more flexibility.



Most party planners do not have access to enough tables and chairs to seat all the anticipated guests, and rental can help cover this gap. "We carry about 10,000 chairs in stock," says DeCoster.

Thinking beyond traditional items, rental can assist with food preparation. Large grills - some big enough for a hog roast - give you the ability to feed an army of attendees. Roasting pans and chafing dishes to help serve food are also a good idea, as well as the table service for eating the feast.

You also want to keep your guests entertained, no matter their age. From inflatables for the smaller kids to games and Karaoke for the young at heart, equipment rental can help make your party the talk of the class.

Green revolution

Because it's based on reusing items, renting is about as "green" as it gets, but today's trends take eco-consciousness to the next level. Snyder helps its customers to be more environmentally friendly by recycling all bar materials, such as bottles and cans that are sent out on event rentals. "We also offer some furniture options that use all-natural materials," says Corbin.

High style

Another trend in parties is creating lounge arrangements. By placing couches, ottomans, coffee tables and the like outside, you can create an attractive "lounge" effect for a more upscale look. "Imagine a Manhattan loft placed outdoors on a patch of beautiful low-country landscape," Corbin adds.

Time's wasting

While companies have vast supplies of party rental items for throwing that perfect reunion event, they are not unlimited. Thousands of weddings and graduation parties are happening in the summer months, which can create shortages of the most popular items.

Planning can never begin too early. "Typically the phone will begin to ring right after the new year," says DeCoster.

Quick tips:

Round versus banquet

You can fit about 20 percent more people in the same space by using banquet tables rather than round.

Don't forget

Some of the most common items forgotten by party planners when renting tents are lighting, fans and sidewalls. Make sure there are no underground utilities or power lines above the location of the tent installation.

Top rental items

In addition to tents, some of the top rental items for reunions include: lighting; inflatables; karaoke equipment; table covering; roasting pans; chafing dishes; chairs and tables.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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