The USMC Birthday Ball approaches! That means it’s time to get ready. But hold on! There’s more than just figuring out what you’ll wear! Don’t forget other important tasks that you should do ahead of time to make your ball evening more enjoyable, affordable and safe!
Going to the ball costs money. While tickets based on rank and monetary need are available you still will have to pay. The ball happens every year, you know this. Your Marine may be “strongly encouraged” or required to go. Plan ahead for the expenses that the ball can bring. You can mitigate many of these expenses, but waiting to the last-minute will not help you do that! Set aside a few dollars a month in advance to cover the things you know you will need (for example childcare), or arrange a trade with a friend (trade dresses, trade childcare services for each other, etc).
New to the unit? Every unit’s ball tickets can cost a different amount. One year we didn’t attend the ball as we had just moved (and bought a house) and the ball tickets were over twice what we anticipated them being, plus it was an hour away.
These can fill up FAST, especially if there are any other events going on in the area (or at the same hotel). Reserve your room well ahead of time. Most hotels have a 24 hour cancellation policy, that means you can reserve your room a head of time and if your plans change, you can cancel more than 24 hours ahead of time and not have to pay. Having a room at the hotel the ball is at or very near the location where it will be not only makes getting ready easier, but also makes getting “home” easier too, particularly if you live far away from where your ball will be.
I know what happens before, after, and during the ball. Make sure you plan ahead and make sure that everyone gets home safely. That means figuring out before you start drinking who will be the DD or if you will take a Taxi/Uber/Metro/etc ride home. Plan now and stick to it.
Underage drinking: Don’t do it. It’s a great way to screw up your career, or worse. Don’t enable it either, you can still get in trouble for that as well even if you are of drinking age.
Going to get your hair done? Nails done? Or anything else like that? Plan ahead! Especially if you are in a military town where EVERYONE will be getting ready for the ball around the same time. Make your appointment early so you can be assured you’ll be able to get all your beauty checklist completed.
Low maintenance or DIY girl like myself? High-five! Chill out and don’t worry about it!
Most, I hazard to say all balls I’ve been to have explicitly stated they were adults only affairs. Did people still bring their small children? Yes. Your ball may vary, but in my experience kids aren’t allowed. Plan your childcare arrangements ahead of time. Contact your babysitter ahead of time, so you don’t lose them to someone else. Remember, you won’t be the only ones going out that night! Some units will arrange some sort of childcare, check with your FRO or suggest it to your FRO or ball committee for consideration.
Every official military function I have attended states it’s dress code on the invitation or event announcement. It usually tells the service members what type of uniform they should be in, usually civilians will be in the “civilian equivalent”. Sometimes that’s all it says leaving you to guess what that is based on the required uniforms, other times it will be more helpful telling you things like “formal” or “cocktail attire”. Since we are talking about the USMC Birthday Ball, it will be formal – dress accordingly. (Yes, I know that tie-dye sundress is great, but not for the ball. Neither is that just to there little black dress, or that hot-pink bejeweled and feathered prom dress with matching long gloves.)
Protip: Choose attire that will compliment your service member’s uniform. For Marine dress blues jewel tones are great, as are blues and reds. I’d stay away from pastels and neon colors are neither are appropriate for an evening formal event.