Let sponsors pay for your next party -- the Lindsay Lohan strategy can work for you too

When I first came to New York, I went to a big corporate party and was amazed by the sponsorships: Johnny Walker provided the booze, a tobacco company provided the cigars, a Manhattan club provided refreshments and a venue, and a car dealership dropped off a few premium automobiles for the guests to drool over. In fact, pretty much the only thing that my company had to provide was a roomful of guests.

While the party was a lot of fun, and enabled me to try Johnny Walker Blue for the first time (by the way, save your money and buy a good single malt), I had to wonder about the wisdom of corporate sponsorship. The company that was running the event was almost invisible, obscured by the promotional material for all the liquor, food, and tobacco sponsors. In the end, I was left wondering if the free drinks and nicotine really made up for the fact that the guests of honor were overwhelmed by a sea of advertising.

Recently, corporate sponsorship of parties has extended into the private arena. Apparently, a variety of companies, from liquor distributors to restaurant owners, are now offering private citizens free party supplies, ranging from venues to food to drinks. In return, all the aforementioned private citizens have to do is pimp out their friends and allow the sponsors to plaster promotional materials all over the place.

In the past, private party sponsorship has largely been the purview of top-shelf celebrities. For example, shortly after leaving rehab, Lindsay Lohan famously negotiated with Svedka vodka to have them sponsor her 21st birthday party. However, corporate America has discovered that the targeted demographics of private parties makes them a great way to reach consumers. While corporate sponsorship might mean that your 30th birthday party will be buried under an avalanche of advertisements for Miller Genuine Draft and Smirnoff Ice, it also means that you can have a monster blowout bash for a lot less money.

According to the experts, the best way to get corporate sponsorship for your party is to send a sincere, thoughtful e-mail to the brand of your choice. Include details about the party and tell them exactly what you are looking for. It's particularly helpful if the people attending your party are compatible with the target demographics of the company. In other words, if you're throwing a 50th anniversary party, you might want to think twice about that e-mail to Mad Dog 20/20. Personally, I'm going to give Laphroig scotch and Top Ramen a call. My 37th is coming up in a few months and I'll be damned if I'm footing the bill for the drinks!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. Actually, he's probably going to hold off on the Top Ramen; he's recently fallen for the seductive joys of Pizza Hut.

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