If you want to throw a memorable party, no matter the occasion, there are many local businesses that provide unique rental equipment to bring flair to a shindig of any size. Here are just a few.
Emily Shaya, owner of Pret a Fete event rentals, always has been passionate about antique and vintage furniture. She and her staff provide an extensive array of rental options, deliver the items to the event site, set them up and pick them up when the event is over.
Pret a Fete supplies furnishings, bars and bar carts, arbors, food and beverage displays, lighting, accessories and indoor and outdoor furniture in a range of styles, including bohemian, French country and mid-century modern.
The company operates out of a 15,000-square-foot showroom on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, which Shaya says is "filled to the ceiling" with one-of-a-kind treasures that make parties atmospheric and aesthetically pleasing. In addition to individual items, Shaya also offers a series of pre-styled lounges that work well for large indoor or outdoor gatherings. She also does consultations, but that's lagniappe for most clients.
"Usually people know what kind of vibe they're going for, and they know how many people they are having over," she says. "We can do everything from a backyard party to a casual dinner party to a corporate event."
Shaya's business fulfills the niche for people looking for more stylized items to enhance party basics such as linens, tables and chairs. Plus, she says, "we pay attention to detail and offer highly personalized customer service."
Island Time Party Rentals, run by father-and-son duo Jay and Eric Heiden, offers equipment rentals to bring the beach to your backyard.
"We both work in finance, and you can't look at finance reports all day," says Eric. "We have a tiki bar in our yard, and we think the world would be a better place if everyone had a tiki bar in their backyard."
The team brings the spirit of the Caribbean islands and conjures vacation vibes by delivering frozen cocktail machines and a portable tiki bar. They offer a few different packages, mixes and add-ons, including the "St. Thomas Soiree" package for smaller gatherings and eggnog and king cake mixes for seasonal get-togethers.
Island Time's mixes don't produce the typical headache-inducing sugary drinks associated with frozen libations. Eric and Jay prepare small-batch mixes made with fresh fruit juices, cane sugar, filtered water and other ingredients. Because the business does not have a liquor license, hosts need to purchase their own alcohol.
Eric says the business also can tailor drink mixes to customers' preferences, like preferring tart drinks to sweet drinks, or fruit substitutions. It also offers alcohol-free pina coladas and virgin strawberry daiquiris for kids.
To entertain guests who are party animals, consider bringing in actual party animals.
"Everyone loves goats," says Michael Patrick Welch, a local writer, musician, educator and publicist for Y'Herd Me?. The venture, owned by Morgana King, is rooted in a property maintenance company that uses goats to clear vegetation on overgrown properties. Over time, the herd has become increasingly sociable and sought after for parties.
"[People] love that they're getting a chance to interact with an animal they idealize in their minds, it seems," says Welch, adding that goats are pretty docile. When King brings them to parties, she provides hay and other food to keep them eating and distracted as people come up to pet them.
"Y'Herd Me? probably participates in as many adult parties as kids' parties," Welch says. "Morgana has brought them everywhere from 9th Ward house shows to the Louisiana Children's Museum."
Like some human partygoers, the goats are all about food.
"People can also feed them by hand but they really will always care about food more than they'll care about a person or a party or anything else. ... So, it's like you're experiencing them more than you're interacting like you would with a dog," he says.