It is maddening to search for linens online. I find a fabric I like, but then I have to figure out whether or not any of the available sizes are the sizes I need. Here’s a chart I put together to help Loanables’ users that are planning events:
If you want a 60″ round to be mid-length, you can use a 90″ or 108″ round tablecloth. (You can also use 72×72 square tablecloth). If you want it to touch the floor, get a 120″ round.
And, as always, if you have any questions, email email@example.com – we are happy to help!
If you haven’t entered our monthly giveaway, of 50,000 hour LED, programmable Holiday lights from a local Austin startup, Brightly, don’t miss out! One lucky winner in Austin will win lights + installation for FREE when we draw TOMORROW! Enter here for your chance to never put up or take down Holiday lights again!
Today, we want to introduce you to Brightly’s founder, Jake & Ryan. Two software geeks who have always wanted to be in business together, and finally found their bright idea. Listen in to how they got started:
What Jake & Ryan are bringing to Austin is truly tech genius meets eco-conscious and budget-friendly! We did the math for you: at a cost of $1199 for a typical one-story roofline with one peak, these 50,000 hour programmable, LED lights used 24/7 for 6 months of the year, these Brightly lights should last over 11 years, bringing the annual cost down to $102.56! How much are your holiday lights costing you to put up and take down? Get Brightly professionally installed and NEVER take them down!
My husband and I have had this ongoing argument for all 14 years of our marriage. How will we decorate for the Holidays? He doesn’t want to climb into the attic to bring down my treasured nativity set or mantle decorations, and he definitely won’t get up on the roof to put up lights. This year, however, I am putting my foot down. I’m going to climb up in the attic if I have to. And we will have lights on the house, one way or another! I’ve looked at the options, and I’ve made my decision. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of what I’ve considered or you can scroll to the end to see my final choice!
Well, this one is definitely off the table because my husband has refused to do it for over a decade already, but if we were considering this, I would look at the cost of outdoor lights, renting a ladder to get the job done, and the time it takes to put up and take down. I’m estimating about $500 to buy the lights and a good 4 hours to put up, maybe 2 to take down? The lights will probably last 2-3 years, right? And then bulbs or strands go bad and have to be replaced so, I’ll average that to $350 and 6 hours every year, which would equal $1,750 and 30 hours over a 5 year period. Make it 8 hours since after pulling the lights out next year we will likely have to make a trip to Home Depot for more supplies. We ALWAYS end up at Home Depot multiple times for one project, don’t you?! That would take us to 40 hours of work and we have to figure out where to store the lights in a manner that allows us to reuse them in our already stuffed garage or attic. Ugh!
I’ve had a couple of friends talk about the cost of hiring someone to do this for us and it sounds outrageous! One quote received was $1500 the first year, and then almost $1000 per year after that (buying the lights from the company and using the same lights that they would store until the next year). And this was just a simple roofline, adding trees or other landscaping added hundreds more! It seems to be more in the $400 range when using the homeowner’s supplied lights or a rate of about $75/hour. This seems like a LOT of money for a few weeks of cheer. And I hate the idea of paying for storage units, which is what a company would have to use to store the lights for my house year after year.
This is what we tried the last few years because my kids really wanted the house to be pretty and colorful. So I ordered two on Amazon to be sure it was enough to cover the full front of our house. It worked and looked lovely, but we had two major problems with these. First, they have to be put pretty far away from the house, depending on the amount of coverage you want. And of course, we wanted to have color on the WHOLE house, so they were inserted in the yard almost to the curb. This required a lovely orange extension cord running across my lawn to the front yard…actually two of them! And that really took away from the look during the day. And second, while they were less than $100, they still seemed to be a bit expensive to leave sitting in the front yard overnight, so we had to bring them in to the garage every night. After a few times of this, they simply didn’t go back out. So they didn’t actually light up our house for the Holiday at all. And they are now stuffed somewhere up in the attic, I’m not sure we could even find them to put out again this year.
Because of Loanables.com, I discovered Brightly, which installs Holiday lights for every day. Check out this video to see them in action! They use 50,000 hour LED lights that can be programmed to display different colors, patterns and even effects like chasing colors and sparkling stars. They are permanently fixed so they don’t have to be put up year after year, and they are very discreet when not turned on so they don’t have to be taken down either.
Since they are already up, Brightly lights can be used for every holiday or event, all year long! I’m thinking the 4th of July in red, white and blue, Halloween can have exploding orange, or my daughter’s 9th birthday can be lit up in chasing pink! At a cost of $1200 for a typical roofline with one peak, over a 5 year period and using them once a month instead of for just one month of the year, that turns into a cost per use of only $20 each time! And of course that cost per use goes lower and lower if you consider they’ll be on pretty much all of fall with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all in a row.
This is way less than the couple hundred (at a minimum) for the other options and provides year-round enjoyment! This seems like a no-brainer because my husband does NOT have to get up on the roof EVER and we will only pay for them ONCE. Since they are on the house permanently, they don’t require any storage throughout the year and are incredibly ecofriendly since they can last so much longer than your average outdoor holiday lights.
Did I mention they are expected to last 50,000 hours! That’s 50,000 hours/ 365 days/ 24 hours per day means that if they were used every minute of every day, they should last for 5.7 years! Since they won’t be used EVERY minute, let’s say I use them every minute of every day for even half of the year, I’m guessing these babies could last me 10 years! For $1200 that is a STEAL! $120/year is WAY less than any of the other options we have looked at.
I think you can tell, I’m really excited about Brightly. And even more so because it is this month’s GIVEAWAY! Yes, YOU can win installation of Brightly for FREE by entering here. And hop on their website to get a free quote for your installation…they are only doing 10 homes in Austin between now and the end of the year and I want one to be MINE!
If you are throwing a wedding, housewarming party, 40th birthday party, or any other big bash, you may be wondering how much alcohol you need to buy. If you read our How Many Glasses Do You Need? blog, you may be searching for some additional information on how much alcohol to actually buy to go in those glasses.
As you may know, you should plan on one drink per guest for each hour of your function. This should ensure you have enough alcohol for your party (unless you are having a college fraternity party – then you may have to rethink your calculations). So, you can use the following formula:
# of guests x hours of party time
Let’s assume you are throwing a 4 hour party for 250 guests. In other words, you will need 250 guests x 4 hours = 1000 drinks.
Now, let’s assume you will serve beer, wine, and mixed drinks.
BEER: How Much Do You Need?
40% of all party drinks are beer. So you will need to use:
# of total drinks x 40%
1000 x 40% = 400 beers
We recommend bottled beer but if you are having a keg, you need to make sure you can serve 400 beers. (NOTE: Most kegs contain 15.5 gallons of beer or 165 12-oz servings.)
WINE: How Much Do You Need?
Wine accounts for 60% of all remaining drinks. So you can use the formula:
(Total # of Drinks – Beers) x 60%
(1000 – 400) x 60% = 360 glasses of wine
A standard bottle of wine (750ml) serves approximately 6 glasses, but unless you are really careful about how much you are pouring, you may not get the full 6. I like to use 5 glasses per bottle for my calculations, then you are sure to have enough. To figure out how many bottles you will need, you can simply divide the total number of glasses you need by 5. In this case: 360 glasses of wine / 5 glasses per bottle = 72 bottles of wine needed.
Now you need to decide how many bottles of red, white, and sparkling wine you need. In order to do this, you should consider whether the event is an indoor/fall, winter, spring event or an outdoor/summer event. In case of an indoor/fall, winter, spring event people will drink more red wine so you should plan for 50% of the bottles being red, 25% white, and 25% sparkling. In our example, this would mean you need 36 bottles of red, 18 bottles of white, and 18 bottles of sparkling. If you are planning an outdoor/summer event, you can split the bottles evenly between red, white and sparkling. Using our numbers, this would mean you needed 24 bottles of each red, white, and sparkling.
When buying multiple bottles of wine, you will definitely want to buy it by the case. I always round up to the next case. Having a few extra bottles ensures that you will not run out and maybe you will have a few bottles left over for hostess gifts or to drink while you wind down!
SPIRITS: How Much Do You Need for Mixed Drinks?
Any drinks that are not wine or beer will fall into the mixed drink category. You can calculate this as:
Total # of Drinks – Beer – Wine = # of Mixed Drinks
Calculating what you need to buy for this category is WAY trickier and depends entirely on the types of mixed drinks you will be serving. Limiting the choices to one or two “signature cocktails” can help you decipher how much alcohol and mixers you will need to purchase.
The average cocktail uses:
For example, if you are making mojito which contains rum, lime juice, and club soda, you can assume you need 1.5 oz rum, 1/4 oz lime juice, and 4-6 oz club soda. You just need to figure out how many ounces your bottle of rum contains, and divide that by 1.5 to know how many cocktails you can make with that bottle and then do the same with your accent juices and mixers.
If you are serving champagne for a champagne toast, you will need one bottle of champagne for every 8 guests. This should give you enough champagne to have 1/2 glass for each guest for the toast. In our example, this would be 250 guests/8 = 31.25 bottles of champagne (rounding up, you need 32 bottles).
Don’t Forget the Water
In all the discussion about how much alcohol to buy, don’t forget that all guests will need water at some point in the event. Make sure you have plenty! You can estimate that guests will drink about 12 ounces every 1/2 hour – hour during the party. We recommend tap water where possible to help preserve the environment. Did you know that only 8% of plastic water bottles are actually recycled? That leaves a lot of water bottles filling up our landfills! If serving tap water you need to account for 4 12-oz glasses per person or 1000 glasses of water.
If you keep these tips in mind, you can rest assured that you will have everything you need (drink-wise) for your big event. If you need glasses, tables, chairs, etc. check out loanables.com to find, compare, and rent.
When I first starting looking at linen rental prices, I thought, “This is crazy. I can buy for less than that!.” Sometimes, that is in fact true, but there are other things to consider. So, why do people rent if it is cheaper to buy?!?!
Here are 3 things to think about before you decide between renting and buying linens for your event:
If you choose to purchase, you need to plan on ironing or steaming the linens the day of the event. When you purchase linens, they come folded, and there are deep creases in them. Sometimes, they also have a factory smell to them. Many people prefer cleaning before using them the first time to get rid of that smell. If you buy, plan on cleaning twice: before and after your event.
If you choose to rent, the linens will be delivered to you clean and steamed. They are ready to use. And, when the event it over, all you have to do is give them back to the rental company.
It costs $10-15 to dry clean a tablecloth. That is often higher than the purchase price. Now, if you purchase a polyester tablecloth, you can launder those yourself, but you will need to iron or press them after they are clean. When deciding whether to rent or buy, make sure you factor this in unless you plan to just throw them away afterwards. (I’d be remiss if I did not add…please don’t throw them away. We don’t need more stuff in the landfill – at least donate them.)
You can typically resell your linens for about 1/2 the price you paid. But, keep in mind, most people purchasing will require them to be clean and stain free. Also, it is likely that at least one of the tablecloths will get ruined or stained (especially if you are serving red wine).
I’m doing this calculation today for an event we are currently planning at my kids’ school:
The co-chairs have picked out beautiful, silver, satin tablecloths. These tablecloths are $24.95 to rent, and they need 50 . That is $1247.50 just for tablecloths (I gulp every time I see that price)! So, of course, my gut reaction was “let’s just buy these.” We found similar tablecloths on Amazon for $16.78 including shipping (they are not Prime eligible). So, they will cost us $839 to purchase.
For simplicity sake, let’s say they arrive from the factory and don’t have a bad smell. Also, since it’s a school event, we can probably find a volunteer willing to iron or steam them before the event. (I am, however, nervous about being able to transport them without them getting wrinkled. I’m not sure we will want this extra stress with everything else going on the day of the event).
After the event, though, we will have to clean them before we can sell them. My local cleaner quoted me $11.50. That will be an additional $575 so my total costs is $1414.
I believe I could resell them for $8 each. Of the 50, I’m going to assume 2 of them (about 5%) came back with stains that the cleaners could not remove. I’ve got 48 for resell at $8 each, which equals $384.
So, here’s the breakdown:
$839 (to purchase) + $575 (to clean) = $1414 – $384 (resell value) = $1030 total cost to purchase vs. $1247.50 total cost to rent.
The difference is $217.50. Is it worth my time to iron them beforehand, take them to the cleaners afterwards, and find a buyer plus probably ship them to the buyer? I could easily argue both sides, and I think it comes down to a personal choice and deciding where you want to spend your budget and your time.
Also, don’t forget I’m taking a risk – if the tablecloths arrive with a factory smell, I have to clean them before the event. The total purchase expense in that case would be more than renting ($1605 to buy vs $1247.50 to rent). I have to decide if I’m willing to take that risk and do the extra work.
If the rental price is less than the purchase price, it is always better to rent than to buy (even if only by a small amount).
It isn’t so black and white when the rental price is more than the purchase price. The main thing you need to consider is what your time is worth. I’m not a professional party planner so my personal rule is:
If you are planning a wedding or other event that has a bar, you need to figure out how many glasses you will need for the entire night. Below is the calculation we use at Loanables to help our customers.
You should assume that each guest will have one drink per hour. Yes, I know some will have more, but some will also have less. Unless your party is mostly college students, this formula works:
Total number of guests X the length (in hours of the party) = the total number of drinks
So, if you are expecting 500 guests for 4 hours, you should plan on 2000 drinks being served.
Forty percent of all drinks are beer.
In our example above, 2000 drinks x 40% = 800.
I recommend serving beer in the bottles so you don’t have to rent and/or clean all of these glasses. But, if you are getting a keg, plan for 800 pilsner glasses or beer mugs.
Sixty percent of the remaining drinks will be wine.
We will serve a total of 2000 drinks, but 800 of those will be beer. That leaves 1200 drinks, of which 60% will be wine. (1200 x 60% = 720). In this example, we need 720 wine glasses.
The remaining glasses will be all purposes glasses. In our example, we needed a total of 1200 glasses. We got 720 wine glasses so we need 480 all purposes glasses.
I recommend rocks glasses. These can be used for non-alcoholic and specialty drinks. This is the most economical way to go as almost all rental companies have this glass.
If so reduce all counts by 25%.
Beer Glasses (unless serving in bottles): 800
Wine Glasses: 720
All Purpose Glasses: 480
Next: check out this blog to find out how much alcohol you should buy.
Lux Limo is providing a killer giveaway this week with 3 hours of transportation in their “party bus on wheels” Mercedes Sprinter 14 Passenger Van. This vehicle is decked out with the latest in entertainment & technology: like multiple TVs with AppleTV, FireTV, DVD, a high-end sound system, mood & pattern lighting, free WiFi and social media capabilities. Bring your own device and plug in your custom playlist to get the party going before you’ve even left home! The refrigerated entertainment bar comes stocked with water, soda & mixers. You won’t want to get out! And one extra special privacy feature: instead of simply tinted windows to darken the image, this vehicle comes equipped with black out shades so there is no way to see from outside in!
Lux Limo offers even more luxury in their full fleet of vehicles designed to serve literally any luxury transportation need.
The Lincoln Limousine is perfect for airport transfers or to add that extra special touch to your wedding send off.
All vehicles come with a dedicated driver who does more than just drive. They take their client’s privacy and safety very seriously and ensure that everyone is having fun and kept safe from the moment they enter the vehicle until they have been delivered to their final location.
Do not miss out on this opportunity to be pampered in the ultimate luxury vehicle for a fantastic night out with your friends! Follow Lux Limo on Facebook & Instagram to keep up with their luxury offering!
We teamed up with local, Austin company Lux Limo for a giveaway of a 3 hour rental in their Mercedes Sprinter Limo that seats 14 passengers. Last Friday, we met two of the owners (Shawn and Andrea McAdams) at the Pennybacker Bridge to announce the giveaway on Facebook live. I love entrepreneurs; so, afterwards, we sat down with them inside the limo and I asked them how they got started and why they do what they do.
When you hear the owners of Lux Limo talk about what they do, you can feel their passion. Tears came to their eyes (and mine) when they told a recent story of facilitating a magical engagement. You can see the joy in their smiles when they talk about driving wedding parties. And, their pride is evident when they discuss quality control and keeping clients safe. I asked them if they ever escorted any local celebrities. They do. I tried to get some juicy stories, but wouldn’t you know it, they abide by strict confidentiality policies for all of their clientele.
Here is a clip of my favorite story they told. I’ve never heard a more romantic engagement proposal:
This clip tells how Shawn and Andrea teamed up with Blair and Julie Drenner to start Lux Limo:
Here is a clip explaining why you should only used a licensed transportation service (don’t use a “gypsy limo”):
Lux Limo is an independent, locally owned business. Here’s why I ❤️ local businesses:
When it comes to office parties, one size definitely does not fit all. Depending on Company age, lifecycle stage, culture, age of employees, etc., a great office party can mean very different things. In addition, a great office party may mean different things as a Company evolves. For example, a small, relatively young company may love beer pong and Karaoke while a more mature family business may like an outdoor barbecue with food and games for the whole family. Whether its outdoor games and cotton candy or pizza, beer, and singing office parties can play an important part in a Company’s culture, creating social networks, and ultimately retaining their employees – after all, employees who have a personal connection to their co-workers are less likely to go somewhere else!
Throughout my career, I have been responsible for and involved in office party planning and I have seen great parties where people come, stay, and talk about them the next day, and I have seen horrible parties with low attendance and zero posts to Social Media. The key to this is know the Company, the employees and the best time to throw the party – the middle of a big deadline is never a good time!
Here are a few ideas for Office Parties which may help get your party brainstorming juices flowing:
The Start Up – usually filled with young, energetic people who don’t mind spending their evenings hanging out in the office with work colleagues (after all, they are there working until early morning hours anyway). Loanables.com has a great Ultimate Office Party bundle for start up companies in Austin. It includes everything you need for:
You can even add a bounce house, dunk tank, other giant games, tug of war, or whatever else you can dream up…and, for $100 they will deliver it straight to your office. Add some pizza and drinks and the party is basically done!
Small Sized Family Owned Business – These business tend to have close
personal relationships among employees (often related to each other in some way). Why not treat this as a backyard family barbecue – large or small? You can order some Barbecue, sodas, and beer and organize a few games/activities like:
Loanables.com even has a Backyard BBQ Party Bundle which includes
They can also supply all the tables, chairs, and linens you need…and, they have a delivery option!
Young – Mature Medium to Large Sized Family Oriented Companies – Employees often want to spend their time outside of work with their families and friends so why not throw a daytime family oriented party – think “Office Carnival”. You can rent:
Or any other big carnival things you can dream up – remember if Loanables doesn’t have something, they will find it for you – just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For food and drink, you can hire some good food trucks Pizza, Sno-cones, Corn Dogs on a Stick, etc – they drive up and do all of the food service for you! Then, you can set up a bar and hire a bar tender, rent some tables and chairs from Loanables and you are done!
Other – what kind of Company do you work for? Let the team at loanables.com help plan your next office party and find everything you need to rent to make it a huge success.
Starbucks introduced sous vide egg bites in January, and they sell out nearly every day. Up until a few months ago, I hadn’t ordered them because I didn’t even know what sous vide meant. I finally tried them since I’m trying to eat less carbs, and now I understand all the hype. They are delicious and relatively healthy.
That innocent breakfast order sucked me down a rabbit hole. There is an entire sous vide cult! Seriously, there are sous vide message boards, sous vide magazines, entire cook books of sous vide recipes, sous vide groups, etc. Who knew?!?
So what is it?
Sous Vide is French for “Under Vacuum”. Food is put in a vacuum-sealed bag and cooked in a water bath. It is often referred to as “precision” cooking because it comes out perfectly every time.
My husband and I love to cook; so, of course we wanted to try it out. We couldn’t find one to rent and didn’t know anyone that had one; so, we ended up buying one. (I posted it for rent on Loanables if you’re interested.)
We cooked a pork tenderloin (see recipe we followed here). It is so easy: seal the ingredients; set the temperature and timer; sear; enjoy! While it was cooking, we visited with our company instead of slaving over a hot stove! It turned out great. What we found is that you need to season more than you would for a grill to get the same flavor, but the meat is definitely more juicy and tender.
My favorite part…
It was so easy to clean up. Throw away the bag, dump out the water, and Voila – you’re done!
Here are some other recipes that we’ve tried and enjoyed:
Sous Vide Filet Mignon Recipe (You can get great quality cuts at Costco for $22.99 per pound.)
Sous Vide Egg Recipe (If you love Eggs Benedict, you will love these!)
Sous Vide Thin Cut French Fry Recipe (These are amazing.)
I love this list of 17 Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Cook Sous Vide.
Here are 2 Secret Ingredients we Love:
Have fun on your journey down the rabbit hole – we did 😉