Everything needed for a party can be rented

December 23, 1997|By Dennis Shaw

Everything needed for a party can be rented

I know I'm a grinch. I'm not big on the holidays to start with, and I hate New Year's Eve parties. But I almost feel obliged to give one this year, in spite of myself. Worse still, I should invite 100 guests. To save the environment, of course.

I started thinking this way last week, when I was doing some research into the old-fashioned practice of renting. Renting things was common back in the '50s when I was a kid. But then we Americans got consumer-oriented and started buying everything instead.

I certainly don't do much renting. The only thing I rent with any regularity is a car when I travel. I did get a truck once when I was moving, and another time I rented a Rototiller, which almost killed me, but I won't go into that.


But now I've discovered that I should rent more, in order to be ecologically correct. For even better than recycling things is re-using them. And that's what rental is - lots of people using the same things over and over again.

In addition to being good for the environment, it makes sense money-wise and time-wise. First of all, you don't have to buy the thing in the first place, which saves money. You also don't have to spend time on maintenance or repairs. You're also more likely to have the right tool for the right job, rather than making do with some jury-rigged contraption.

However, I thought there just wasn't much around to rent anymore.

Wrong. I've just been out of the loop.

When I sat down and really thought about it, I came up with quite a list of things that can be rented. For example, I have friends who rent health-care items like crutches and wheelchairs, and even hospital beds.

Some other friends - not the same ones, fortunately - rent skis instead of buying them when they go to Whitetail. And some businesses I patronize rent or lease office equipment like copiers and shredding machines.

But I'm not infirm, yet, and I don't ski or run a business. I wanted to find things I could rent now. So one day, out of curiosity, I stopped by a local rent-it center, and I was amazed. Here are just of a few of the hundreds and hundreds of things I found available:

* a floor polisher

* a snow-cone maker

* an ax

* a bingo setup

* a crib

* traffic cones

* horseshoes

* a raffle drum

* a bubble machine

* a fog machine

* a gazebo

* a wishing well

* a cotton-candy machine

* a cash register

* an overhead projector

* a table-top public address system

* a flip-chart easel

There were some other things listed that I'd never heard of, and I'm not sure I want to know what they are, such as a rammer, a Jitterbug Tamper or a bullfloat with two handles. But perhaps that's just as well. I don't want to buy things I don't need, and I don't want to rent things I don't need either.

However, now that I've realized the benefits of renting, I feel I really should check out something, just to get in the spirit of it. That's why I'm thinking about a New Year's Eve party.

Just think of all the things I could rent. The 100-cup coffee maker is only a start. I have a 30-cup maker I got from my mother, but if I'm going to rent one, I'll raise the ante to 100 cups.

And there's a slew of other party supplies available, including tables and chairs and chafing dishes and canopies and a coatrack and a karaoke machine ... and even a dance floor. This could be the party to end all parties.

If I want to appear in costume, there are plenty of those to choose from, too, such as a mouse - male or female - an Arabian sheik, a Campbell's soup can, a banana, ET, a rabbit, Little Bo Peep - traditional or sexy - and a deluxe turkey.

Actually, I may be carrying this too far. If I don't watch myself, next thing you know I'll be renting a tuxedo and a wedding gown and trying to find someone who wants to marry me.

Besides, I really don't want to give a party. I think I'll go back to the Rototiller; that's more my style. Then I can grow some organic vegetables and work on keeping toxic pesticides out of the environment.

Dennis Shaw is a former Herald-Mail editor. Write him at P.O. Box 276, Clear Spring, Md. 21722, or call 301-842-3863.

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