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Food & Dining

(BPT) - Summer is party season, and most people prefer outdoor entertaining during warm months. In fact, a 2014 survey by entertaining website TheSalonniere found that 50 percent of people prefer barbecues in summer, 19 percent like al fresco dinner parties and 12 percent favor a pool party. Many party hosts will pull some lawn chairs and folding tables out of storage, put up an umbrella or two and serve traditional foods this summer.

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If you want your summer event to be truly memorable yet low-stress, why not mix it up by renting some items that can elevate the level of your get-together? Whether you'll be hosting a college graduation party, birthday gathering, backyard wedding reception or summer-holiday bash, here are five ways to create a knockout event.

Have it made in the shadeWhile we all crave summer sun, all those UV rays can quickly make an outdoor party too hot to handle. Shade is a must for outdoor events during warm weather, but for a real impact, a plain old lawn umbrella simply won't do. First of all, they're rarely large enough to accommodate a good number of guests. Second, a little wind or rain can topple your umbrellas - and spell the end of your party.

Rental stores carry tents in a wide range of sizes and styles, so it's easy to find one that fits your yard, number of guests and party theme. Visit www.rentalhq.com to find an American Rental Association member rental store near you.

Cooler than a fan, manSometimes even the shade isn't enough to keep guests from losing their cool in the summer heat. When you know party day is going to be extra steamy, why not add enclosed sides to your rental tent and bring in portable evaporative coolers and air-conditioning units?

Portable evaporative cooling systems, also known as "spot coolers," can lower the temperature in an area by 20 degrees by emitting a light mist that cools hot skin and lowers the ambient temperature. To lower the temperature even more - by 30 to 40 degrees - try a thermostat-controlled portable air conditioner in your tent. Rental store professionals can help you determine which device and what size will be best for your needs.

Sitting prettyAt your last summer party, did guests have to sit on blankets on the grass? Or occupy both of their hands with food and beverage while having to stand up? Rare indeed is the host who has enough lawn chairs to accommodate everyone who wants to sit down at their summer party. After all, who has that kind of storage space? Renting chairs can ensure your guests have ample sturdy, comfortable seating when they're ready to put up their feet and relax. And you can relax knowing you won't have to be dragging dining room chairs or your grandmother's antique rocker onto the lawn.

Suh-weet!Favorite foods are a big part of the fun for any summer party, and you'll want to be sure to serve some reliable standbys like burgers and salads. But to really sweeten the fare and create some excitement for guests of every age, consider renting a snow-cone or cotton-candy machine. Serving snow cones or cotton candy will evoke memories of summer carnivals for adults, and kids love watching the machines make their treat almost as much as they do eating it! Rentalhq.com can also help you find a machine, plus give you some tips for operating a snow cone machine and how to use a rented cotton-candy machine.

Fun in the sunFood and conversation are key elements of a summer gathering, but so is some good-old-fashioned fun in the sun. Don't have a huge supply of lawn games or inflatables stored in your garage? From a variety of bounce houses and rides to inflatable movie screens, rental stores have you're looking for. Hosting an event for a more sophisticated crowd? You can also rent a dance floor and set it up right in your backyard so guests can waltz (or twist) the night away.

For more party-planning ideas and event items available for rent, visit www.rentalhq.com, the rental store locator of the American Rental Association.

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