The military tradition is deep within the community. One such tradition is the military ball. The military ball for each branch of service occurs around the birthday of that service. For the Army, it is around June 14th. For the Navy, October 13th. For the Air Force, September 18th. For the Marines, the birthday falls on November 10th. The Coast Guard’s birthday is August 4th. The birthday ball is a time for military members and their family members to celebrate together. This celebration means dress uniform for the service members and ball gowns or suits for their partners. It is a time to feel like a Gilmore all dressed up and somewhere to go. It is, however, an expensive time. For the Navy and Marine Corps, the birthday falling in the fall season is right before the holidays, so spending a bit of money before the holidays can be daunting. Here are some ideas to make the most of the ball and what to consider before going.
One of the key factors of the ball is the cost. There are several factors that add up: tickets, outfits, travel, hotel, and babysitting. How do we make the most of it?
If you want to have a hand in the ticket cost, you must get involved in the ball committee. The ball committee for one year usually meets the moment the previous ball ends. For instance, the 2023 ball committee would start to meet the month after the 2022 ball is completed. The ball committee decides the venue location of the ball, meals, and ball gifts, which are ultimately the items that decide the cost of the ball ticket. The ball committee also decides and works on fundraising, which can lower the ticket cost. The goal of fundraising is to find a way for the ball ticket to be free for E1-E3 ranks due to its cost. If you want to have a hand in this and the cost of tickets, join the ball committee!
For the military member, the dress uniform can be an expensive piece of clothing costing thousands of dollars. Depending on rank, the uniform allowance can be used to purchase the dress uniform offsetting cost. Another way to save money is to look for uniform items at local base thrift shops. Sometimes those military members who are leaving service or change uniform types or size donate their uniform, and any purchase of the uniform supports programming for the military families. Ask your local base pages to find out if there are uniform sales at other locations.
For those looking for suits or ball gowns, check local thrift stores both on and off base. Ball gowns are worn once or twice and on resale aren’t as expensive – this is an item you may be able to pick up for a few dollars in comparison to the new price.
Some bases hold gown swapping or gown giveaways in preparation for the ball season, stay tuned to your military base’s social media pages and websites to learn about their events.
Outfit swapping – this one could be fun. Swap suits or gowns with friends. This expands your closet to much more than what you have and allows you to try new outfit types and colors you may not normally try.
If your ball is out of the local area of your base, you may have to travel there. Depending on the location, you may fly or drive. If you are driving, consider carpooling to save money on gas. Splitting the gas bill can help, especially if you have a lengthy drive ahead for the ball. If you are looking to fly, don’t just look on the website for airlines – check our Google Flights and CheapO airlines to save money. Time is money, so if you need to fly because you have to return to work the next day, a factor that in.
The key with this one is to make sure the ball committee made a room block for the ball. The room block typically provides a group rate for the hotel that the ball is happening at. This usually means much cheaper room cost, plus you will be rooming near others there for the ball. If you want to make a weekend of it, the hotel room block is typically there for several days – one day before the
This one is tough. Especially if you have just moved. Sometimes childcare is offered by the ball committee. Check with the ball committee to see if they have set up a babysitter at the ball location.
If not, ask friends if they would be willing to swap babysitting, especially if the ball is local.
If you are using a new babysitter, save by staying for the ball and not staying overnight.
With all the expenses of the military ball, it can feel overwhelming. While it will probably be the most expensive date you will have this year, participating in the tradition is a memorable event. Make the most of it. Being a member of the armed services doesn’t last forever and taking part in the ball as an active member is a unique experience. Make the most of it by using the tips above.