DON’T bring a fake ID or a flask.
This is a risk you don’t want to take even if your fake works at every bar in your college town. Formals are usually held off-campus at places that are stricter on rules. If you’re underage and plan on drinking, be smart and safe about it. You do not want to get caught by the staff and sent home with your date—or worse—be sent to jail. “I went to a formal sophomore year and the guy at the door took all the underage attendees’ IDs away from them. I thought I would be fine to sneak a drink, but after I took a sip of my vodka cranberry, I was approached by a bartender and told I would be kicked out if he caught me drinking again,” says Tonya*, a junior at Central Michigan University. According to Amanda, the staff usually checks bags too, which is why you should never try sneaking in liquor in a flask.
DO remember to eat.
The food is part of the deal so eat up. “Often formals are buffet style and the food isn't out for too long, but you don't want to be starving for the rest of the night—or worse, get sick from drinking on an empty stomach,” Amanda says. Follow the same dinner protocol you would at a normal date: enjoy your meal, but don’t forget to practice good table manners.
DON’T get blackout drunk.
It’s a widely known fact that drinking will occur at formal, but you don’t want to be the girl who pounds shot after shot with the guys and then ends up on the bathroom floor the rest of the night. Know your limits and stick to them; slurring your words isn’t sexy. “A girl in my house got so drunk at the pregame last year that she didn’t even make it to formal,” says Melanie, a junior Alpha Chi Omega sister at Michigan State University. “She woke up and asked her date how it was, and he said, “we didn’t make it; you were too drunk.’” You do not want to be that girl…
DO hit the dance floor.
It is a dance after all. Show off your hottest moves and have a good time dancing with your date. Sarah, a junior at the University of Michigan, offers a word of caution: “Be careful dancing in your heels because the floors can get slippery if people spill their drinks.”
DON’T cause drama.
No one wants to start a battle of the sororities. Who cares if you’re in Sigma Kappa and the rest of the guy’s dates are in Alpha Phi? Leave the catty drama at the door and learn to be civil with one another. Unless you’re like Jenny*, a junior at Florida State University who left her date to go to the bathroom and came back to find him making out with another girl.
DO stay with your date.
If you come with a date, you should leave with the same date. “I went with this great guy to his formal and we were really hitting it off, and then he got too drunk and decided to leave. I later found out he’d ditched me to go to another sorority’s date party that was happening at a nearby club,” says Karen*, a junior at UCLA. That’s just rude and uncalled for—if you have no desire to be a certain someone’s date for the night, just say no in the first place.
DON’Tget freaky on the bus.
We’re talking about super sloppy PDA right in front of everyone. “No one wants to see that stuff,” says Ally, a junior Alpha Phi sister at the University of Michigan. “It’s kind of a given that you and your date will make out at some point in the night,” says Michelle*, a sophomore at SVSU. But you should at least keep it in check until you get home.
DO make post-formal plans.
It’s going to be a late night, but don’t feel forced to sleep at your date’s place. As soon as you return to campus, he’ll probably invite you back to his frat house or apartment for “after-party drinks” or to chill and watch a movie, but if you’re tired or feel uncomfortable you don’t have to partake. “Freshman year, I made the mistake of not setting up a ride. By the time we got back, the bus back to my dorm had already stopped running for the night so I got stuck sleeping at my date’s place,” says Kylie*, a junior at the University of Michigan. Don’t let your date drive you home if he’s been drinking. Instead, call a cab or have a trusted friend pick you up.
Follow our foolproof guide and have a fabulous time at formal. We’d love to hear your own dos and don’ts for this big college event, so share away collegiettes™!
*names have been changed