1. Balls are expensive. A year in advance, create a ball savings fund just as you would for any other big life event. Contribute every payday.
2. Consider inviting local friends, relatives or supporters of the military that you would like to honor.
3. Be on time. You have one year between military formals so plan accordingly. Pull up an image of the entire venue to include the parking lot. Check to see if parking is complimentary or not. Know the lay of the land as well as the sequence of events.
4. Pack a small emergency kit to include extra rank, uniform pieces, needle, thread and super glue for medal mishaps. Chances are good that your spouse or a comrade will experience a wardrobe malfunction. It’s your turn to be the hero!
5. Have your formal picture taken right away. Make-up fades, food spills, hair falls, and lines grow.
6. Always buy your picture! Years later, your regret for not buying it will outweigh your regret of how you thought you looked.
7. Stay seated for the entire presentation to include dinner. The waitstaff is eager to place a lovely meal before you. They cannot maneuver easily between guests darting in and out of tables.
8. Familiarize yourself with Flag and General Officer etiquette- when to sit, when to stand, and when to place your hand over your heart.
9. Avoid bringing small children unless your spouse has permission from the command. If children do attend, they are held to the dress code of formal attire to include children’s tuxedos and formal dresses.
10. Have fun and know the ball is a time to reflect on honored traditions, camaraderie with fellow service members, and to honor those who have fallen.