1. Don’t think you’re too small.
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Throwing a holiday party? 15 tips for saving time and money

1. Don’t think you’re too small.
Don’t presume your party is too small. Many rental companies -- even at the high end -- have no minimum order requirement, and if they do, it might be less than you might guess. Though Town & Country, whose showroom is pictured here, handles giant corporate events, it would take an order of any size. The minimum at Pico Party Rents is just $65. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
2. Get it delivered.

Having your order dropped off at home saves time and sanity. The Pico delivery fee is $65. Town & Country, which has showrooms in Pasadena, Van Nuys and Santa Barbara, will deliver for $99.50 with a $300 order. Delivery fees generally include setup of equipment and pickup. You can expect a Monday through Wednesday drop-off for a Thanksgiving order, with pickup on Friday or Saturday. Side benefit: Less party clutter before and after the big event.

 (Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times)
3. Get it delivered.
For those of you who didn’t pay attention to No. 2, let us repeat ourselves. Remember: You cannot show up at the rental warehouse expecting to fit an 8-foot-long banquet table in your Prius. Dishes and glasses are packed in wide boxes and large plastic crates. Some of the nicer dining chairs cannot be picked up because of concerns about scratches. Plan accordingly. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
4. Order early.
By Nov. 1, rental companies already had logged orders for Thanksgiving. But inventories are deep, so you still have time. Most companies take orders only by phone or in person, during business hours. Peruse offerings online first. Some have prices on their website. Even if you don’t have an exact guest count, place a preliminary order and make adjustments later.

“When renting for the holidays, people generally go for the more inexpensive items first,” said Darren Edwards of Pico Party Rents. That means late customers may have no choice but to go with more expensive options. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
5. Count tables carefully.

An 8-foot-long table can seat 10, but it likely won’t be wide enough to set down serving dishes. When the cost is about $9 per table, why not just order an extra to use as a buffet? The other issue: room planning. “People think they can fit 20 people into a dining room that fits eight,” said Brenda Collosi of Town & Country. “This is the most frustrating thing for clients during the holidays.” Figure out if you need to rearrange a room, and note that most delivery people are not allowed to move furniture.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
6. Move the party outside.
If you realize rooms are indeed too small, move outdoors. Create a space where people can linger, drink or dine by adding patio furniture or establishing an extra room with a canopy on a patio or deck. A 10-by-10-foot canopy from L.A. Party Rents in Van Nuys starts at $85. The photo here shows one of the showrooms for Town & Country, which has various styles of outdoor structures. Some companies rent modular sofas, comfy canopy chairs, colorful end tables and modern space heaters. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
7. Rent extra glasses.

Town & Country’s Brenda Collosi suggests three glasses per person because guests tend to drink different wines or lose track of their glass. (Face it, those wineglass charms don’t work once the party starts rolling.) Yes, you could buy cheap glassware from Ikea, but then what? Renting gives you the option of one all-purpose glass or different sizes and shapes for red wine, white wine, Champagne or water. The breakage fee for a wine glass is usually about $2.50. The rent-extras rule also applies to place settings. “It’s better to have extras for people who might stop by,” Collosi said.

 (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
8. Claim your gravy boat.
If you know you’ll need one, get moving. Town & Country owner Richard LoGuercio said gravy boats are one of the first items to go for Thanksgiving. Again, you could buy or borrow one, but the point here is to reduce the amount of work for yourself. A 7-ounce silver gravy boat from LoGuercio’s company is $7.50; a silver gravy ladle is $3.35. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
9. Mix and match.
Mismatched place settings are a trend, so consider renting multiple styles of dishes and bowls and incorporating the china you have on hand. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
10. Rent, don’t buy, linens.
Some of your biggest savings can come from renting tablecloths and napkins. They’re usually available in dozens of colors with prices starting around $1 for napkins and $8.50 for tablecloths. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
11. Rent an extra oven.
You can agonize over the kitchen remodel that never happened, or you can simply rent the kind of professional equipment that catering services use. An oven large enough to cook a turkey runs about $200. Also available: tabletop burners, convection ovens, even pizza ovens and deep-fat fryers. Large appliances come on casters (ovens often go in the garage) and work on propane. Delivery fees cover the setup and installation. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
12. Don’t make a knee-jerk decision about dining chairs.
A lot of design-savvy choices are available, including modern Victoria Ghost chairs by Phillipe Starck, shown here, and classic Verner Panton chairs. They cost about $15 through Town & Country. At the other end of the budget spectrum: Some customers forgo the ubiquitous plastic Samsonite folding chairs because they are often the cheapest (starting at $1.29 at L.A. Party Rents), but rental companies say they are actually quite comfortable. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
13. Make a final check.
Go down your menu and walk through the entire event. Ask yourself: Do I really have time to polish my grandmother’s silver? Do I need a coffee maker? Do I have enough spoons for soup and dessert? If flatware costs 50 cents to $1.60 a piece, think about whether it makes sense to order more. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
14. Think beyond the meal.
Sometimes you can rent additional items for out-of-town holiday visitors. Pico Party Rents has 550 rollaway beds on hand. One rents for $35 per week, Edwards said. Highchairs and booster seats can be useful for a whole stay, not just one party. (Town & Country)
15. Leave the dishes for someone else.

Perhaps the best part of renting is that plates, glasses, cutlery and linens do not have to be washed before they are returned. When the party’s over and the last guest has left, simply rinse tableware, put it back in the plastic crates for pickup and toast your savvy party planning.

 (Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times)