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Tables and Chairs Buying Guide
By: Jernae Kowallis

Whether youíre planning the next event at your church, or whether youíre the helping hand, there are a lot of things to check and double checkóeverything from the food and decorations, centerpieces and cleaning, to the music, sound, speakers or performers. Though each and every detail is important to your event, you know the only way it will all come together is through careful preparation and thoughtful planning.

Now youíre asking yourself all the usual questions: How much room will we need? How should we set up the tables? Each of the following tips will guide you to the solutions you need to help you pull off the best church event yet.

Will we use these tables and chairs both inside and outside?
Folding tables are ideal for quick setup and take-down. With the right set of folding tables and chairs, you can easily transform your lobby into a banquet hall, your outdoor area into a barbeque, and your empty class rooms into temporary service project areas. Because of weather, sun, and other outdoor elements, itís important to take your tables and chairsí construction into consideration.

Tables with exposed metal parts are prone to rusting and wood can quickly warp even when only partially exposed. Itís extremely important to take care of tables with these features, and cover them when not in use. Folding tables with powder-coated metal and a completely plastic top will resist rusting and weathering. High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is one of the best plastics available for outdoor use, and the best blends are also resistant to both UV damage and weathering.

Who will be in charge of setup and take-down?
Since folding tables are meant to go from dusty storage closets to a clean and polished set-up in a matter of minutes, itís important that your tables are durable, safe, simple to clean, and easy to move. Since you will probably have many willing hands, ready to give service and help set up, your tables should be durable enough to withstand abuse from a variety of different people, as they are dropped and bumped into walls.

Good tables are built to withstand impact and should never collapse after setup. Features like impact-resistant corners and a leg brace locking ring will help ensure that both your tables and your volunteers enjoy the event. The weight of a table is also an important thing to consider. Since convenience should be synonymous with ďeasy,Ē your tables should be simple to lift. Lighter weight tables will save time, energy, and bodily strain.

What features are important to me?
In a series of recent studies conducted by Lifetime Products, people were asked to identify the top features they look for when buying extra table space. The results were, in order of importance: size of table, leg style, warranty, and whether or not they could find matching chairs.

1. Size: The size of a table is crucial to determining how many will fit in your facility, and what types of layouts you can arrange. Lifetime Products offers a free online tool that helps you layout any space with both Lifetime products and a variety of others.

2. Legs: The leg style of a table should be part of your purchasing decision. Most importantly, will the table leg get in the way of people sitting at the table? And, will the table wobble because the legs are poorly placed?

3. Warranty: The warranty should be a very important factor when purchasing for your organization. If the company providing your tables and chairs stands by their product, chances are, they believe in it and its strength. Youíll be at ease, knowing that you purchased a quality product that you can be proud to own.

4. Chairs: Matching chairs will add to the overall aesthetics. When looking for chairs, be sure to look for how well they will match your current tables, their durability, and most importantly, comfort. Not all chairs are created equal, and the design and contour of a chair can sometimes be more beneficial to their comfort than the materials, so we recommend you give them a test drive. Sit and feel them out before purchasing.

What is my budget?
The biggest question is always the one that affects your wallet. When buying tables and chairs itís easy to become excited over a low price point, only to add up the numbers years later and realize you had to replace more than they were worth!

Here are a few tips to save those dollars.

Buy in bulk. Buying from a company with a program customized to sell to non-profit organizations is always a good idea. Most are able to negotiate price with you based on volume and your specific needs.

Buy quality. How long do you picture yourself using these tables and chairs? Now multiply that by two, or even three. Most organizations invest in their needs at the time, which can be costly when required to replace tables and chairs down the road because they wear out.

Invest in good customer service. The long-term cost savings of replacing parts due to damage or defects will always pay off in the end.

Now that you have a good direction, your event is almost ready to go. Send out those notices and invitations and get ready.

Jernae Kowallis is product marketing administrator at Lifetime Products, www.lifetime.com.

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Religious Product News