Planning a sit-down Christmas dinner party for 100 and don't want to risk the heirloom china, mix a patchwork of china patterns or go tacky with Chinette? Do what labor- saving hosts and hostesses do: Look in The Yellow Pages under "Party Supplies -- Renting" and rent everything from silver chafing dishes to trickling fountains to raised runways.
Here's a rundown of dinner-party basics for 100 guests and what they'll cost you to rent. There's also a delivery and pick-up charge that ranges from $10 to $40 depending on your location and what you rent.
Standard rental china comes in off-white with a silver border or in cream with a gold band. But A-1 Rental Center in Annandale has a multi-color Noritake pattern available at a slightly higher price. China is delivered in boxes. You don't have to send it back clean, but you do have to rinse it and put it back in the boxes. Count on spending about $100 for 100 five-piece place settings that include dinner, salad and dessert plates and cups and saucers.
Silver-plated knife, two forks and a spoon to go along with each place setting will run $85 to $105; stainless steel hires out for $50 to $75. Glasses to fill with festive spirits will cost you anywhere from 15 cents apiece for highball tumblers to 17 cents each for stemware to 20 cents apiece for brandy snifters.
A six-foot rectangular table covered with a white tablecloth (you don't have to worry about stains) will cost $8 to $11, a five-foot covered round table, $10 to $12.50. For 100 guests, you'll need 13 tables. Chairs to pull up to the tables will cost about 50 cents each for Samsonite vinyl folding chairs or 60 cents apiece for padded chairs.
For less than $400, you can set 13 elegant tables. And just in case your house or apartment is a trifle too small to accommodate those tables, here's a list of houses and museums you can rent to provide the right atmosphere for your dinner or cocktail party. CABELLS MILL, Centreville, Virginia (Fairfax County); 631-9566. Renovated 1820 mill has room for 150 people. It's available 8 a.m. to midnight seven days a week, year round. Minimum of $60 for four hours, $25 for each additional hour; $25 extra for non-county residents. Lower charge for non-profit groups. Cater yourself or hire a caterer. CAPITAL CHILDREN'S MUSEUM, 800 Third Street NE; 543-8600. You can rent an exhibit room, wing or the whole museum for $250 to $1,500, plus security and parking charges. The museum staff can handle everything for your party of 10 to 1,000 or you can do it yourself. CARLYLE HOUSE, 121 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria; 549-2997. A 1752 house available 6 p.m. to midnight for $600. Caterer of your choice or do it yourself. COLLINGWOOD LIBRARY AND MUSEUM, 8301 East Boulevard Drive, Alexandria; 765-1652. Part of George Washington's River Estate, this house overlooking the Potomac has large rooms and rents for $200 to $400 a night, depending on the size of your party. There's no kitchen but you can bring food in. DECATUR HOUSE, 748 Jackson Place NW; 673-4273. This 19th- century townhouse on Lafayette Square can seat 36 for dinner or hold 85 for cocktails. Brick garden can be tented and used year- round for 300 standing, 200 sitting. The whole house rents for $1,500 for four hours. GREEN SPRING FARM, 4601 Green Spring Road, Alexandria; 941-6066. Farmhouse attached to an art gallery can hold 40 people. It's available Saturdays and weekdays by special arrangement, full kitchen and piano available, for $200 for four hours; $20 each additional hour. LEE-FENDALL HOUSE, 429 North Washington Street, Alexandria; 548- 1789. This 18th-century house comes equipped with costumed guides. It will hold 100 and there's a modern kitchen. $85 per hour. ROCKVILLE CIVIC CENTER MANSION, 603 Edmonston Drive, Rockville; 424-3184. Restored 18th-century mansion with ballroom and a brand-new kitchen with microwave oven. $350 for residents; $550 for non-residents. THE TEXTILE MUSEUM, 2320 S Street NW; 667-0441. An historic Kalorama house with room for dancing, it holds up to 150 standing and 60 dining and costs $800 for five hours; $250 each additional hour. WOODLAWN PLANTATION, Mount Vernon; 557-7881. Owned by the National Trust for Historical Preservation, this house can seat 100, hold 125 standing. Approved list of caterers. Basic rental is $1,000. WOODROW WILSON HOUSE, 2340 S Street NW; 387-4062. The former president's Dupont Circle townhouse holds 80 people. Approved list of caterers. It rents out for $1,000.