Planning Tips

Choosing your Venue

The first step in planning any event is to choose an appropriate and practical venue for the event. Most people who conceptualize an event have a good idea where they would like to have them. Here are some possibilities:

Hotel Ballrooms – Most hotels will have facilities to house events for up to 1,000 people, but can acccomodate smaller events by partitioning their ballrooms. This is generally the most expensive, but easiest venue for the customer, because specialists on the hotel staff do the coordination for you. Party Plus works with many of the area hotels to support these types of events.

Public Facilities – Many public facilities rent their space for events. Some of these facilities also have outside space to accomdate rental tenting, so that the capacity of the space does not limit the size of the event. These facilities tend to be very affordable, but offer limited or no coordination, so you must do this yourself or hire a coordinator. These facilities also have strict rules about when you can start and stop your event because they must clean and prepare their facilities for business. Choices in Manatee County include the Powell Crosley Mansion, the South Florida Museum, Gamble Mansion/Plantation, Bradenton Civic Auditorium, Manatee Civic Center and a large number of public parks.

Private Facilities – These facilities are dedicated to rental of the facility for events and are reasonably affordable, but a little more expensive than the public facilities. They sometimes have kitchen areas, but usually do not. A caterer is usually employed to bring the prepared food in from off-site. In Manatee County, these facilities include the Palma Sola Botanical Park, Bayside Banquet Hall, Manatee River Garden Club,  and Manatee Central Banquet Hall.

Determining Tent Size

A tent can be located adjacent to any facility or home with a little more space than the intended tent size.

Two factors impact the size of the tent:

  1. How much space is available. We need about ten feet all the way around the tent to position stakes and ropes.
  2. How many people are going to be seated, and what else is going on under the tent.

It is easy to determine the tent size based on the size of the party. Each table you seat people at is going to take about a ten foot by ten foot square, or 100 square feet of space. The most popular sizes of rental tables (either round or square) will seat eight to ten people. So, if you simply take the number of people and multiply by ten to get the amount of tent space required for people seated at tables. Then add any dance floor, stage, or food service square feet needed to get the total tent size.

For example, if you have 100 people to be seated at round tables at your party, you need 1,000 square feet of space. If you look in our on-line catalog , you will see that a tent size of 30×45 will be closest to this square footage. The 30×45 tent will give you about 350 extra square feet for food service and spreading the tables out a little bit.

Selecting the Tent – Frame or Pole?

Rental tents come with basically two types of construction…frame or pole.

Frame tents have aluminum tube frames which are put together like the framing on a house. The frame supporting the roof of the tent is assembled on the ground. The vinyl top is then placed on top of the frame, and the top is lifted into the air and placed on its legs. There is no center pole for this type of tent, so  Party Plus uses this type of construction exclusively in tent sizes smaller than 40×40.

Pole tents are built like circus tents, they have a center pole or several center poles, and side poles every seven feet around the perimeter of the tent. The vinyl top is rolled out on the ground, and the side legs and center poles are pushed up under the top. We use this type of construction in the larger tent sizes, beginning with 40×40. This makes the tent more affordable to rent (because it is much cheaper to buy and maintain a pole tent than a frame tent), and most people do not find the center poles to be a problem if the tent size is larger.

Choosing Tables

Rental tables are available in the following sizes:

Rectangular tables6 ft by 30 inches – seats 6
8 ft by 30 inches – seats 8
Round tables36 in. cocktail table
48 in. dining table – seats 4-6
60 in. dining table – seats 6-8
7 2in. dining table – seats 8-10

Which table shape you choose depends on the type of event. An barbeque/picnic, pancake breakfast, informal events, the rectangular table is appropriate. At more upscale events, people want to face each other, so the round table is appropriate. By far the most popular table is the 60 inch round table.

Uses of Rental Chairs

You should use a chair which is appropriate for the type of event. Here are our guidelines for the chairs we carry:

Basic black chair – Use for meetings, informal dinners, some formal dinners, and general purpose. This is the least expensive and by far the most popular chair.

Basic white chair – This chair is identical in construction to the black chair but is prettier. It is the economy wedding ceremony chair, and the most popular chair for wedding receptions or dinners.

White padded chair – This chair mimics the old “white wood” chair and is used mainly at wedding ceremonies, though it also can be used at dinners. Note: The padding does not necessarily mean that the chair is more comfortable than the choices above.

Chivari Chair – This is a very high-end chair used at elegant sit-down dinners. Typically, this chair is used in combination with custom centerpieces, and table overlays to produce an exciting visual impact.

Selecting table linen

At Nelson’s Party Plus, we carry 100% Polyester table linen in sixty colors to fit all of our rental tables in a number of ways. If you can envision it, chances are we can match it! Look in our catalog  for a display of these colors.

Sizing the table linen to the tables is easy, but we will gladly do it for you. First, you need to decide for each table if you want a lap-length linen or a floor-length.

Lap-length linens are more popular for tables where people are seated.

Floor length linens are used for a more elegant look or at tables where food is being served.

Generally, people find it uncomfortable to have a floor-length linen in their laps while they are trying to enjoy themselves. The sides of food or serving tables can also be decorated with shirred table skirting, which gives a very elegant look to the food service table. Skirting is available in the same sixty colors as the table linen.

What about Napkins?

A good dinner napkin must be comfortable to the touch, and can be used for the obvious purpose and for decoration. Nelson’s Party Plus carries napkins in thirty colors. (Click Here to view colors) .  Order about ten percent more napkins than you have guests.

Organizing the Food Service

A significant part of planning your event is thinking through the food-service part of the event. If you are supplying the venue or rental tent, the tables, chairs and linens, you can make a choice before proceeding with planning the china, glassware, flatware, and rest of the food service.

If you are going to prepare the food yourself, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How will the food be cooked?
  2. How long can the food sit before it is served?
  3. How will the food be transported from where it is prepared to the site where it is served?
  4. Will the food require heating once it is at the site?
  5. Once the food is at the site, how will it get from the transport device to the plate?
  6. How long will this take and will the food get cold?

By now you are probably beginning to understand why it is so popular to have a caterer involved for larger events. Caterers have answers to these questions.

If you choose to do the food service yourself, and ignoring the preparation and food transport issues, you can rent the following from Party Plus to help with your event:

  • Hot boxes or transport carriers – Keep food warm at the site.
  • China – A three or four piece setting is usually appropriate.
  • Glassware – A wine glass and water glass at least
  • Flatware – A four piece setting is usually used.