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5 Things to Pack for an Overnight Formal

With rush season almost complete, the Greek event calendar is sure to fill up quickly. From special dinners and mock weddings to topless tanning sessions and baseball games, it’s surprising that a newly recruited sister gets any sleep at all. Despite the never-ending social happenings, one of the most hyped events of the season is the overnight fraternity formal. If you’re unfamiliar, think of it as a mix of your average high school prom and a childhood sleepover. You’ve got short dresses, subpar food, good drinks, cuties to flirt with and your sisters all tied into one! Could there be anything better on a Friday night? Probably not, unless you forget one or more of these items.

1. Your sleepover basics

If you remember anything from your first sleepover, it’s probably not what you packed. You might recall the pillow fight, the late night pantry raid or the movie you rented without parental knowledge. For a fun night, you only needed the basics: a sleeping bag, pajamas and some toiletries. Laura Mudrick, a freshman at Duquense University, says to use the same packing list. “For an overnight sorority formal, I’d only pack the essentials: a good pair of flannel pajama bottoms, a t-shirt, your toothbrush and toothpaste,” she says. “You don’t want to bring too much with you. My advice is to keep it light.” You’re not going to want to sleep in your dress or use someone else’s toothbrush, so these are definitely the most important items to remember. 

2. Greek necessities

For those of you unfamiliar with the Greek system, we’ve got a quick history lesson for you. When a girl is invited into a sorority, she receives a pledge pin to wear until receiving full membership at a formal ceremony. Even after becoming a full member, she is required to wear the pin at all formal events and ritualistic ceremonies. Overnight formals are just one instance when forgetting your pin would not be fun. Megan Kunselman, a freshman at Arizona State University, agrees. “I would need to bring at least one shirt with my letters on it and my pin,” she says. “If I forget my pin, I would probably have to pay a fine or I possibly wouldn’t be let into the room.” What if you didn’t bring any money? Maybe that’s another thing to pack as well.  

3. Emergency hair kit

No matter how much hairspray you used to keep those gorgeous curls intact, they’re not going to hold forever. The combination of body heat and sweat will make them wilt faster than it took you to do your hair.  If you’re a hair novice, there’s a number of simple styles you can complete with a straightener, but you’re still going to need the following items in the case of an emergency: a brush, travel-sized hairspray bottle and bobby pins. Kristen Perrone, a senior at Siena College, says, “I would think that if you’re doing something elaborate with your hair that involves bobby pins, bringing something to keep the pins in once you remove them at the end of the night would be super important!” She’s absolutely right because you’re not going to want to clean 50 pins out of your purse the next morning.  

Related: A Freshman Girl’s Guide to Frat Parties

4. Makeup essentials

Ladies, you’re not going to want to forget the piece of makeup that makes you feel unstoppable. Whether you’ve got the Taylor Swift red lip or the Katy Perry blue liner, it’s most likely going to fade or smear at some point during the night. Kayley Miller, a freshman at Stanford University, says, “I’ve only worn one shade of lipstick my entire life. Maybelline Plum Paradise is my life.” We’re sure if Kayley danced the night away to Kanye, she’d work up quite a sweat and need to freshen up. Keep a stash of oil-absorbing sheets or even a simple pack of tissues in your purse for a quick blotting. With the amount of people in attendance at overnight formals, there’s sure to be a mile-long line for the bathroom. Having a compact mirror will save you loads of time.    

5. The cooler

Drinks are a given at any Greek event, both alcoholic and EANABs (equally attractive non-alcoholic beverages). Because overnight formals are typically large in size, it’s difficult for the frat to provide the number or taste of drinks that everyone enjoys. Attendees are expected to bring their own coolers filled with drinks to share, but why not get creative? Try decorating the cooler in accordance with the theme of the event. Mikayla Becker, a freshman at Florida State University, emphasizes the basic necessity of bringing the cooler. “The cooler is definitely one of the most important things to bring,” she says. “While it’s a plus to decorate the container, its basic function is to hold drinks and keep them cold for the entirety of the event. If you forget to bring a cooler, where will you put the drinks?”

If you’re set on having a carefree, fun night with your friends or date, it’s advised that you pack beforehand. By the time 2 a.m. rolls around, you’re going to be more tired than after pulling an all-nighter for an essay, and you’re not going to want to scrounge for a dirty sweatshirt to sleep in or a square of toilet paper to wipe your makeup off. Even if it’s the only time you’ve ever packed or written a list beforehand, we recommend trying it for an overnight formal for your own sanity.  

Emily Schmidt

Stanford '20

Emily Schmidt is a junior at Stanford University, studying English and Spanish. Originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia, she quickly fell in love with the Californian sunshine and warm winter temperatures. Emily writes a hodgepodge of pieces from satiric articles for The Stanford Daily to free-verse poetry to historical fiction. Just like her writing repertoire, her collection of hobbies are widely scattered from speed-crocheting to Irish dancing to practicing calligraphy. When she is not writing or reading, Emily can also be found jamming out to Phil Collins or watching her favorite film, 'Belle.'