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April 5, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
The days are longer, the nights are shorter, and the crazy Missouri weather has possibly stabilized once and for all. It’s a good time to throw a party, and there are plenty of quirky things in Columbia you can rent to kick it up a notch, from dunk tanks to bunny suits. And if you’re on a budget, don’t worry; we’ve got some cheaper alternatives for you.
Dunk tank: $95-$125
13 x 13 Bounce house: $90-$175 depending on hours needed
Adult tricycles: $50 per pair
We’ve all wanted to subject someone to the fate of a dunk tank, and we’ve all wondered what it’d be like to ride on an adult tricycle. Okay, possibly not everyone. But either way, you can check out Lindsey Rentals for standard party and rental fare, as well as a bounce house and other less-standard items.
If you’re looking for a fun way to cool off but a dunk tank is too pricey, water balloons are always an excellent alternative. Grab a slingshot while you’re at it because you’re never too old for a water war. Let’s face it, water guns don’t go out of style either. As far as the adult tricycles go, pick up some training wheels for your big kid bike, and ride like the wind. Plus, if there are kids in the family, you might get some more miles out of training wheels.
The Davis Entertainment Network
How much: $400-$800
If you need a professional to emcee your event, The Davis Entertainment Network’s DJs can be wild or subdued, depending on the party, and they also provide karaoke services. The only thing better than a DJ is one with experience.
Try Spotify, a music streaming service that allows access to millions of tracks from all genres. The Artist Radio feature finds new music based on your user preferences, or you could set up a custom playlist before the party starts. Better yet, get the whole party involved in the DJ process by letting everyone add a song to the playlist queue. Just watch out for playlist trolls who try to play “Party in the U.S.A.” every 10 minutes.
Barnhouse’s Crazy Music Store
Lighting combos: $100 per day
Mirror ball: $15-30 per day
Fog machine: $35-$40 per day
Barnhouse’s Crazy Music Store carries a wide array of musical instruments, but if your party is going to have an emphasis on sound and mood, there are speakers, microphones, mixing boards, strobe lights, mirror balls and fog machines available for rent. Nothing says drama like a fog machine.
Although it’s possible to make a fog machine, it’s easier to rent one. As for lights, Christmas lights will do in a pinch, especially with multicolored bulbs. And to add drama without fog, try putting a few fans in the room. Marilyn Monroe might have been on to something.
Two hours $450
Six hours $900
In addition to waterproof, laminated, high-resolution prints, Redlight Photobooth comes with an online gallery of all images from the event. Redlight’s team creates a custom graphic design for each shindig. The booth fits up to eight people, and comes with a tech person who brings it, sets it up, sticks around to offer support and takes it away.
Try making your own backdrop. Set up a digital camera on a tripod or flat surface, throw in a box of props, and have fun. You can email the pictures to guests. Or, if it’s more of a dinner event, try the wedding technique, and put disposable cameras on tables. See which moments your guests decided to capture.
Flair on the Fly
How much: varies per party
Flair on the Fly is a bartending service that provides everything you would find in a bar: drinks, cups, napkins, mixers, a beer pong table and a portable bar, if necessary. Plus, there’s even an element of showmanship, as flair bartenders are able to perform tricks while serving drinks (think Tom Cruise in Cocktail).
Although amateur attempts to “flairtend” are a good way to spill, break or otherwise ruin something, it doesn’t mean you can’t prepare your own drinks. Try thebar.com for easy, detailed drink recipes; it’s amazing how much you can do with Captain Morgan and Smirnoff. Or, if you’ve got enough time in advance to practice some flair techniques, there are tutorial videos on YouTube.
A-1 Party and Event Rental
Popcorn machine: $38, $45 with cart
Karaoke machine: $62-$79
Bounce house: $165-$389
Bunny suit: $70
Tent: $60 (10 x 10, 1 day) $2,250 (40 x 120, 3 days)
If you need something that’s more old school, like a popcorn or karaoke machine, head over to A-1 Party and Event Rental. And if you want something a little more shocking, you might as well pick up a bunny suit while you’re there.
Actually, the popcorn machine is the cheaper alternative. With microwave popcorn, you get less per bag. If you can’t afford a karaoke machine, hook your laptop to a set of speakers, and try Sunfly Karaoke’s YouTube channel for a start. And just in case the bounce house is too expensive and you have younger kids, try making an obstacle course out of appliance boxes or a Slip ’N Slide with heavy-duty plastic sheeting and a garden hose. Instead of a tent, you might craft a makeshift canopy with a sheet or have the party under a tree. As for the bunny suit, you can get by with just the ears and tail.