Can outdoor heaters and a tent actually transform a Chicago backyard into a party locale?
March 14, 2010 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Is it reasonable, by way of a tent rental + heaters, to plan on holding a small backyard party in Chicago, in March, with a forecast indicating temperatures in the 40s/50s?

Let's just say that party date is unchangeable – it involves a bride, a groom, and about 30 guests. Due to extenuating circumstances, we are looking at trying to throw a small last-minute ceremony + potluck at home, instead of our previous location.

Our place is one floor of a two-flat, with a small backyard. It's a pretty yard (even with no greenery out yet), and is open space, whereas the small-ish apartment is shotgun-style and relatively closed off.

I've never dealt with renting tents, tables, and other serious party supplies before. Most every party supply place I've looked at online has a section for "climate control", i.e. heaters for tents. Does anyone have experience with this setup? Could it actually make a backyard warm enough to mill around and eat dinner in the face of northern March air?

In other words, is this idea nuts? We'll be making calls tomorrow to learn more info, but if anyone has any advice, ideas, warnings, I'd appreciate it!
posted by allisonrae to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
it'll work! i had some friends make this same situation work in wisconsin on a lake a few years ago the same time of year (read: a little colder and windier). the tenting is usually flapped for these things. we all kept warm, even when it began to rain and the temperature dropped.
posted by patricking at 3:41 PM on March 14, 2010

forgot to mention: almost all the attendees were chicagoans. everyone knew how to deal with the weather. no discomfort.
posted by patricking at 3:42 PM on March 14, 2010

It may be expensive, but it will work just fine (unless there is a tornado or really severe storm). Don't forget to get something dry and sturdy to walk on if you don't have a paved patio area. (Or at least warn your guests not to wear heels.) You may need to rent a generator as well, to run enough heaters and lighting to make it comfortable.

I used to work at a bar that held outdoor music festivals at various times in the winter and spring. Never had a problem, but these were very heavy-duty tents.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:43 PM on March 14, 2010

Wind is the only real threat, so, as this has to go ahead, consider all your windproofing options. The temperature isn't an issue at all. Electric patio-heaters will keep people out and partying even with snow on the ground.
posted by howfar at 5:35 PM on March 14, 2010

If you do this, you might want to make sure people know that the party will be outside, so they dress appropriately.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:01 PM on March 14, 2010

At my university, they would hold something called SnowAP in January every year, in Montreal. Which meant -40C (or -40F, if you prefer, they're the same) weather, and it was nice and toasty inside the heated tents. But definitely make sure the rental place includes flooring.
posted by Grither at 6:31 AM on March 15, 2010

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