Chicago Restaurants: 5 Tips for a BIGGER March Madness Party

'friends toasting at March Madness party at restaurantIt’s time to celebrate those March Madness wins and grieve those big losses. As a restaurant manager, you can be along for the ride—and the big dance—if you don’t drop the ball planning this year’s March Madness event.

Don’t wait until the first jump ball

The first step is to not to wait until Selection Day to start prepping and promoting your restaurant March Madness party. Plan a promotional schedule that starts weeks before Selection Day. Strategically place décor and signs that announce March Madness events and specials, such as behind the bar and by the door for customers that leave and enter. Create a buzz by posting big announcements, images, and dates on social media that draw a crowd.

Choose the right promos

The best, slam-dunk March Madness restaurant promotions are baskeball-themed and carefully chosen for the target audience. Put simply, restaurants need to offer promotions that matter to existing and new customers, such as discounts when the local favorites win or giveaways for upsets. Consider running specials (i.e. 4.40 wings for the Final Four, 16 deals to celebrate the Sweet Sixteen, rewards for successful brackets) the coordinate with the local March Madness buzz (or put your own spin on one of these March Madness promotion ideas).

Brew up a winner

According to WalletHub, a surplus 1.3 million barrels of beer is produced every March (over other months of the year). The takeaway for restaurants is to include beer into your March Madness event and promotion strategy. Consider running happy hour specials before and after games to draw customers in and extend the party. Ask social media followers to name the kind of beer that fits the game they’re buzzing about. Select brews that fit certain events, or put your own twist on a favorite brew.

Brag about your big screens

A March Madness party isn’t complete without big screens so customers can catch all those big March Madness plays. Buy or rent big screens for the occasion, and don’t hesitate to show off all those televisions and projector screens online. Share images and videos of the screens and the party space as you put it together; customers love to see inside scoops and shots of what’s to come.

Put together the ultimate party space

If you have space for the ultimate March Madness restaurant event, use it. If you don’t, use tents (heated so your customers are warm during our Chicago winters) to expand the space and draw customers in. Position your tents strategically. A tent in front of a restaurant can be a draw for sidewalk traffic. A well-promoted tent behind a restaurant can be a huge addition that can make your March Madness event an overtime win.

Make Your March Madness Restaurant Party a Slam Dunk

march madness party at chicago restaurantMarch Madness celebrations are the BEST when the home team is winning and everyone’s brackets (and squares) aren’t a bust. While restaurant owners and managers can’t control the March Madness games, there are ways to ensure your March Madness party feels like an overtime victory (to you and your guests).

Comfortable Guests

You want your guests complaining about the refs’ calls, not how cramped or cold your party is. While the Windy City is a great location for a March Madness party, the weather can be terrible. This can be a blessing and a curse; because the weather isn’t great, it can be great for a party turnout. The curse is that the temperatures can dip way below comfortable. Accommodating an extra-large turnout—and the weather—can be easily solved with a tent. A tent with sidewalls and an excellent heating system can accommodate both needs, without making guests feel uncomfortable in a cramped space. (The tent can also be installed so guests don’t even notice the transition from restaurant to tent.)

Good Bar

A good bar is a must for any restaurant or sports bar celebrating one of the biggest sports events of the year. Many bars are an over-the-top March Madness party feature that every guest appreciates (especially when the place is packed!) Meet their expectations by renting an additional bar for your March Madness event (and strategically position it for maximum use). Discuss your options for a second bar with event professionals; a keg bar can be an easy way to serve the most popular brews so your guests don’t have to wait for all those other drink orders. 

Slam Dunk Menu

Restaurant menus don’t have to be cheesy, but they do have to be delicious and suitable for the occasion. The menu can be customized specifically for March Madness or those favorites that suit the event; either way, be sure to include the menu items that draw a crowd into marketing efforts. If your event is an all-inclusive, pay-at-the-door, rent food service dishes to keep the food hot—and the crowd ready for the next game.

Additional Seating

The best March Madness games keep spectators on the edge of their seat (or stool). Don’t be one of those restaurants that doesn’t give them a place to sit. Rent additional seating and tables to accommodate a crowd. For a sports bar atmosphere, rent high boy tables and stools. More formal parties should rent tables and seats for a sit-down (when the games not getting tight) feel.

10 Outdoor Wedding Lighting Ideas

dramatic outdoor wedding lighting in chicago ilPlanning an outdoor wedding is all about creating the perfect wedding atmosphere with the right tent, décor, food, and lighting. The latter detail may be often overlooked, but wedding lighting plays a vital role in creating a stunning wedding atmosphere.

tent lighting chandelier

Nothing says elegance like a chandelier. This lighting adds add a sophistication to an outdoor wedding; guests will be in awe of the beautiful chandeliers and elegant décor.

Jen Niedospial and Jake Fuller Wedding Photos
Mandatory Copyright to Glen Abog, 6027 N . Drake Ave., Chicago, IL 60659, 773.983.0122,,
Theater Lighting

Make your guests feel like stars at your outdoor wedding. Ask about up lighting that can reflect off the tent and create a bright and dramatic flare to a tent wedding.

outdoor wedding lighting
Pin Spots

An extra special element of décor deserves to be in the spotlight, and pin spots are a great way to highlight them. Consider pin spot lights to help guests focus on food stations, centerpieces, and other beautiful wedding details.

tent wedding with beautiful lights on ceiling

String Lights

Nothing creates a night under the stars effect to a tent wedding like string lights. String lights can be used to add a touch of elegance to a formal rustic wedding or a romantic flair to a beautiful outdoor wedding.

Globe Lights

This casual tent lighting option is perfect for an informal affair. Globe lights are simple lights, adding a relaxed mood to a laid-back tent atmosphere.

paper lanterns at outdoor wedding
Paper Lanterns

Crisp white glow. Colorful and festive. Unique and whimsical. Paper lanterns can be described by all these terms; discuss how paper lanterns can be customized for a crisp white glow or a colorful and lively look.

lighting – pattern
Projection Lights

To add interest to an outdoor wedding, add projection lights to the list of wedding details. These lights can be customized to project a relevant object or pattern onto the tent ceiling, such as snowflakes or the couple’s initials. Projection lights can also be a fun addition to any wedding photograph.

lamp post at outdoor wedding
Lamp Posts

Lamp posts are a one-of-a-kind lighting addition to an outdoor wedding. These posts can be scattered for a touch of atmosphere (such as on a deck or patio) or grouped for a unique entrance.

Landscape Lighting

You chose your outdoor wedding venue for a reason; highlight those extraordinary details with landscape lighting. This wedding lighting can also be useful for accenting natural décor inside the tent.

Mood Lighting

Colorful mood lighting can add drama to any wedding tent, drawing guests in and creating an enveloping atmosphere. Discuss your options for mood lighting with an event specialist who can recommend the right color and lighting that fits with a stunning outdoor wedding atmosphere.

10 Stunning Wedding Tent Ideas

Outdoor weddings in Chicago are gorgeous and risky. The Windy City is full of outdoor wedding venues with stunning scenery—and the heat, humidity, and rain that can put a damper on a wedding day. (And don’t forget those annoying insects!)

A wedding tent is the perfect plan B (and plan A) that gives guests refuge from the unpredictable Chicagoland weather. It can also provide an intimate party, separate different wedding areas (i.e. ceremony area, dinner, dance floor, bar, etc.), and create an unforgettable wedding atmosphere. Modern tents come in styles that can fit your guest list and your unique style (contact a pro to choose the right tent for your special day). For interior wedding tent decor, use these unforgettable wedding tent ideas to create your own special day.

Dramatic Entrance

A tented wedding wouldn’t be complete without an entrance. A marquee entrance does just that, making a fantastic first impression on wedding guests.

white tent with bright centerpieces

Splash of Color

Give your guests a hint of interest against a neutral background. For a seasonal feel, choose a splash of color that signifies the season.

tent wedding with beautiful floral centerpieces

Over-the-top Floral Arrangements

Nothing brings the outdoor inside like beautiful floral (or greenery) arrangements. They can also bring height to a space or add romance to an elegant wedding reception.

wedding tent with dramatic lighting

Dramatic Up Lighting

The effect of up lighting is magnified in an intimate tented setting. Lighting can add drama and set the stage for a wonderful evening reception.

Unique and Colorful

A one-of-a-kind tent wedding is a combination of all those unique touches that make it different (and festive!).

tent wedding with beautiful lights on ceiling

Heavenly Dance Floor

A dance floor is a stage; make sure your stage is a beautiful setting for memorable moments and for busting a move. A proper stage floor can also have a practical purpose, especially when guests aren’t getting their heel stuck in the turf (or sand!).

clear tent with full floor

Sky View

Clear tents are more than just a trend; they are an excellent way to make guests feel the beauty of your outdoor wedding venue.

tent wedding with natural decor

Green Touches

For a more natural flair, bring elements of the outdoors in and coordinate with natural wedding tent décor. The beauty of this design is that décor doesn’t always need to match, just coordinate for a natural and well-designed wedding style.

tent wedding with chandeliers and string lights

Elegant Lighting

Stylish lighting can add ambience to an elegant wedding and beautiful low-light to a wedding reception.

tent wedding with beautiful water view

Room with a View

A wedding venue with a beautiful view is a horrible thing to waste, which is why clear sidewalls can be a godsend. Not only can guests enjoy the view, these panels can keep away those pesky insects that can put a damper on a big day.

BIG Tips for Planning a Successful Conference

conference stage with large rental screenChicago’s frigid winters are an ideal time for business conferences and seminars. With so many perfect conference venues, such as the large McCormick Place or the numerous smaller venues, and a guest list looking for indoor entertainment, the Windy City is the site for a successful business conference.

It can also be the site of a well-attended conference—if the conference planning process is optimized for a positive guest experience. These tips play a key role in accomplishing conference objectives and adding another must-attend corporate event to the Chicago event calendar.

Set a goal.

Every conference should be planned with a specific goal and target audience. The goal dictates many of the event details, including the ideal location. The initial planning session should also include setting an event budget and preliminary brainstorming. Ideas can be documented for later application at the event.

Choose the ideal conference venue.

The right location for a conference checks off all the boxes: convenience, amenities, atmosphere, space, and spaces needed to attain the desired goal. The conference venue should be well-located and convenient to reach for the target audience. To locate a venue that fits conference needs, make a list of amenities needed, such as wi-fi or a catering space.

Generate a solid marketing calendar.

A marketing calendar is essential for successful event promotion and planning. Start marketing to the target audience early; a common practice is to offer discounts for early registration. Set clear deadlines and utilize proven marketing tactics that are geared at the target audience.

Choose speakers that increase registrations.

Search for speakers and entertainers that draw registrations and boost attendance. Consider options with the target audience in mind. Ask, “what topics would they want information on?” “What industry speakers would draw a crowd?” The answer, top speakers, should be confirmed with a legal contract and requested list of needs (i.e. IT needs, specific podiums, etc.)

Make sure everyone can hear featured speakers.

The audio visual needs of a conference are extensive. Ensure all bases are covered with a complete list of AV items (microphones, speaker systems, screens, etc.) If hosting a tradeshow, make the vendor experience positive by providing the name of local event rental companies that can meet their AV and miscellaneous needs (i.e. additional chairs, screens, etc.)

Be selective about stage décor.

Conference décor should set the stage for the desired atmosphere. Design a stage that fits the event atmosphere and program; enhance the main stage area with additional drapes and décor appropriate for the atmosphere. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance with stage décor from event experts that have experience in event planning.

Be strategic about planning the location of all conference activities.

A conference should have an excellent flow that draws attendees to the appropriate areas. Draft a plan that accomplishes this goal and is convenient for guests. For the benefit of trade show vendors, consider ways to drive attendees into the trade show area. This also increases trade show vendor satisfaction and increases trade show numbers year after year (use these tips for planning a successful trade show).

Focus on guest comfort.

To draw a regular attendance, focus on guest comfort at the conference. Choose experienced vendors familiar with the city and event needs to provide equipment that meets attendees’ needs and wants. In addition to meeting room chairs, rent furniture, audiovisual equipment (i.e. screens, microphones), and charging stations that can make a huge impact on attendees’ satisfaction.

25 Chicago Trade Show Rentals

trade show booths with pipe and draping ready for trade show rentalsThe Windy City is an ideal place for trade shows. Chicago has numerous exposition centers (such as the McCormick Place and Donald E. Stevens Convention Center) and thousands of trade show visitors waiting to be awed and inspired.

Trade show organizers and exhibitors need to meet the high expectations of those trade show visitors with organized, affordable, and attention-grabbing trade show rentals. This list of trade show rentals fits into all of those categories—or can get the brainstorming started for an over-the-top trade show at one of our wow-worthy Chicago trade show venues.

Trade Show Rentals

  1. Carpetingstool and tall table for chicago trade show
  2. Signage
  3. Screen
  4. Flat Screen Monitor
  5. Video Projector
  6. Wireless Microphone
  7. Booth Curtains
  8. Chairs
  9. Furniture
  10. Bar Stools
  11. Sound System
  12. Red Carpets
  13. popcorn machine party rental for movie party themePopcorn Machine
  14. Nacho Machine
  15. Kegerator
  16. High Boy Table
  17. Table Linens
  18. Cotton Candy Machine
  19. Coffee Service
  20. Bleachers
  21. Slushie Maker
  22. Information Booth
  23. Stanchions
  24. Tack Boards
  25. Table Top Easels

Turn these trade show rentals into a successful, affordable, and effective trade show; contact an experienced local trade show rental company with strong Chicago roots.

Unique Chicago Holiday Party Rental Ideas

chicago holiday party with rentals floral centerpiecesDrawing a crowd is only part of holiday party planning; it’s the combination of the best holiday party venue and fun holiday party ideas that make a festive holiday gathering over-the-top. From the smallest touches that ensure guest comfort to creative holiday entertainment, these festive holiday party ideas make your gathering a holiday gathering guests look forward to (almost as much as the holiday season!).


Treat your holiday party guests to a large-screen event. Invite your guests to enjoy delicious holiday treats while enjoying the holiday movie classics on a big Hollywood-sized screen. If you want to make the event interactive, ask your guests to vote for their favorite holiday flicks then use their input to give them the ultimate holiday countdown.

Portable Bar

Give your holiday party a unique twist by serving specialized holiday drinks mixed just for the occasion or a tasting that guests’ll talk about long after the holidays are over. Depending on the guest list, decide the best tasting for the event; popular choices are wine, beer, or another popular beverage. Your unique bar can be the talk of the night (with the right look and linens), and the most popular holiday party entertainment by far.

Fun Food

If the goal of your holiday party is all about mingling, give them a chance to interact in more ways than just a buffet line. Add interactive food tables, such as a cookie decorating station or a cocoa with creative fixings. Position these tables, as well as tables with warm treats (it does get cold in Chicago, after all!), throughout the holiday party. Rent food service containers for those hot treats; your guests aren’t going to warm up with lukewarm holiday cuisine.

Sound System

Don’t make your emcee go hoarse at this year’s holiday party. Rent a sound system that can add to the professional atmosphere or give the event guests direction as they circulate and mingle. A sound system can also be invaluable for a live entertainment act; if the act is a band, add a dance floor to the holiday party rental checklist.

Popcorn Machine

Popcorn is a crowd favorite, making it a popular draw at the door and inside the event. A popcorn machine can be a great addition to a holiday movie party, holiday carnival, or any other themed holiday gathering.


A heater may not be the first holiday party rental idea that comes to mind, but it can go a long way toward ensuring your guests enjoy themselves—and that they’re comfortable. If you are using a holiday party venue that’s not suited for a cold Chicago winter, rent a heater to warm up the occasion; add fun holiday party ideas to make it a festive and memorable holiday event.

Planning a Trade Show: 5 Effective Tips that Sell Booths

trade show with blue and white pipe and drapes

Planning a successful trade show (as part of a convention, expo, or as a stand-alone event) is a carefully coordinated effort that requires a substantial amount of time and effort. Indeed, the “how to organize a successful trade show” is utilizing the tips that can attract more vendors—and lead to continual requests for trade show booths year after year.

Start planning well in advance

The foundation for a successful trade show starts months before the start of the show. When initiating trade show planning, set a goal for the trade show and identify the target audience for marketing. The latter step is important for marketing, giving trade show organizers key insights as they prepare online and traditional marketing materials. Ask “What features would attract these businesses? How can we attract attendees that gives trade show vendors an excellent return-on-investment?”

green trade show pipe and drapes Identifying a target audience can also be a valuable step toward identifying ideal trade show sponsors that can contribute to event success. When designing the trade show map, designate ideal locations and bigger trade show booths for these sponsors. Aesthetically, choose pipe and drape booths that create a uniform and professional impression; however, don’t be shy about creating professional signage that signifies trade show sponsors.

Market booth value

To attract trade show vendors, it’s your job as a trade show organizer to spell out the value of trade show attendance. If the trade show is an annual event, utilize past videos and photos to visually demonstrate the value of the event; visuals can be a powerful marketing tool. Create a calendar with promotional trade show offer deadlines. Schedule online and traditional marketing mailings strategically. The most effective marketing tactics depend on the target audience; for example, an e-mail marketing campaign may be the most successful method for reaching IT firms.

Be creative

A trade show theme can be the impetus that captures trade show vendors’ attention and appeals to their creative side. The theme can also give direction to planning the trade show aesthetics; contact an event planning company to choose pipe and drapes that coordinate with the theme and occasion. If the trade show is part of a convention or expo, use the same theme and aesthetics so the trade show feels like a coordinated part of something bigger. When designing marketing materials, communicate the theme to trade show vendors so they can plan accordingly and use the theme as a way to stand out.

Roll out the red carpet for vendors

trade show informational booths Satisfied trade show vendors equate to repeat booth customers. Make every effort to ensure that trade show vendors are achieving their goals and feeling satisfied with the experience. There are many ways trade show organizers can achieve this:

  • Provide informational booths for vendors and attendees so everyone gets their questions answered in a prompt manner;
  • Ensure that all trade show vendors’ needs are met throughout the trade show;
  • If included, hire a quality caterer so trade show vendor employees are fueled and satisfied throughout the event;
  • Execute an aggressive marketing campaign that attracts interested buyers;
  • Drive trade show attendees to the trade show throughout the event, such as serving a meal or program near the trade show;
  • Add strategic seating and tables (or seating areas) throughout the trade show to encourage conversations;
  • Do a periodic check-in with vendors to ensure they are satisfied with their experience.

Survey the results

A continually successful trade show is a trade show is always evolving to meet the needs of vendors and attendees. When the trade show is complete, survey both parties to gauge their level of satisfaction and ask for feedback. Utilize traditional and electronic surveys to ensure that as many trade show vendors and attendees are reached. Compile and organize the results so they can be used when planning next year’s event.

20+ Chicago Party Rental Ideas (& Great Event Themes!)

royal theme event with party rentalYour party can be the event of the year—if you “dress it up” with the party rentals that make your event the talk of Chicago. Plan your fundraiser, corporate party, or community event around these fantastic party themes, then put it over-the-top with party rentals like popcorn machines, linens, chairs, and portable bars. The sky is the limit with party planning (just ask us for party rental ideas).


checkered linen party rental for carnival party themeA picnic or carnival theme is one of the most popular party themes, primarily because guests love every second of a good picnic! For a fantastic picnic-themed party, give your fundraiser or party guests numerous sources of entertainment, such as a dunk tank, ring toss, balloon pop game, and gone fishing game (other ideas for carnival-themed party games here). But the fun shouldn’t stop there; a good picnic or carnival is full of all the delicious carnival treats that complete the carnival theme.

Party Rental Ideas: Checkered Linens, Popcorn Machine, Hot dog Steamer, Cotton Candy Machine, Snow Cone Machine, Slushy Maker, Ice Chests, Sound System (for background music and announcements)

Casino Royale

event lighting with dice for casino party themeTransport your guests to Las Vegas without the plane ride! Think card dealers, show girls, lighting, and all the glitz and glam that comes with a day at Casino Royale. To pull off this party theme, think big. Nothing less will do—and certainly won’t have the larger-than-life impact party guests expect.

Party Rental Ideas: Lighting, Red, black & gold linens, Gaming machines and stations, Portable Bar, Margarita Machine, Sound System (for background music and announcements), Stage (for main stage entertainment and announcement)


beach themed table with food service dishesA beach party or tropical theme can be a great break from a cold Chicago winter day or a chance to cool down from blistering summer heat. Give your guests the chance to show off their best beach or tropical wear with a selfie station—and a few other themed party rentals that can put the event over the top.

Party Rental Ideas: Margarita Machine, Portable Bar, Grass table skirts, Slushy Maker, Chill Tables, Stage (for a tropical band), Sound System (for tropical background music)

A Night at the Movies

popcorn machine party rental for movie party themeMake your party guests feel like the star of the show with this party theme. Dress up your event space with the lighting and décor that makes guests feel like they are headed to a Hollywood show. If your party is a fundraiser, raise money by selling delicious movie treats, such as popcorn, hot dogs, candy, and sodas.

Party Rental Ideas: Checkered Linens, Popcorn Machine, Hot Dog Steamer

A tent INSIDE of Union Station?

A local charity decided to use the historic Great Hall in Chicago’s Union Station for their annual fundraiser, but wanted something to differentiate their event from the dozens of other events hosted there each year. After consulting with them to brainstorm different ways to modify the space to create a unique environment, we proposed something that had never been done before: “What if we put a giant tent INSIDE of the Great Hall?”

This not only achieved a never before seen “Wow factor” for their event but it also lowered the ceiling height of the space, giving them improved acoustics for their music and speeches so that their guests could enjoy dancing to music that has never sounded better due to the of normally difficult to control acoustics inside the Great Hall.

Of course, driving stakes was strictly forbidden because the the floor in the Great Hall is made from historically significant ornate stonework, so we used our proprietary Alternative Weight Anchors (extremely compact and made from steel) to anchor the tent to the floor with no damage and to provide an architecturally rock solid installation that also was aesthetically pleasing since no water barrels or concrete blocks were needed and the beauty of the Great Hall was preserved.

We are always ready to listen to your needs and come up with creative ideas to create a truly unique experience for you and your guests, call us today at 847.375.8510 to find out how we can help make your event one of a kind!

Mention this blog post when calling for a complimentary in person consultation with a senior member of our design team.