Ball advice

#1
Hello all,

Having started a similar thread in the arrse social area it was pointed out to me, by various people, that the officers mess may have some more experiance in the provision of balls and, by extension, would be more likely to answer in this forum than the Arrse social.

So, to the point, I have been put in charge of organising a ball for about 250-300 people and was hoping for fun and cost effective ideas for the night that have worked in your experiances.

As always any help appreciated,

Ant
 
#2
The best theme idea for a big ball (c.500) I've come up with was "Empires through the Ages". The challenge had been that all the younger generation wanted to dress up, but we had to cater for lots of senior crusties who weren't going to take kindly to invites telling them to turn up in S&M kit or whatever. The beauty of the "Empires" theme was that the crusties could turn up in mess kit/black tie (e.g. British Empire), whereas the younger (and older but irresponsible) generation could turn up in - togas ("Roman Empire", of course!). Since there have been a multitude of Empires, the theme gave people wide scope for costume choice (though I wasn't sure that "Star Wars" counted as a legitimate Empire....). It was also fairly easy & low cost to decorate different rooms/areas of the Mess and marquee.
 
#3
Round is football
oval is rugby

Hope that helps Sir
 
#4
Themes that get done a lot over here:
Narnia (dawntreader etc..),
Medieval (Avalon),
Venice (Carnivale),
Alice in wonderland,
1920s/1930s,
Monopoly,

Hope that helps
 
#5
Sorry, bit off theme here but hopefully fairly relevent!

As far as balls at Sandhurst go, I've heard that guests are not permitted to stay on site post festivities. Does this mean telling the misses to sling her hook at the end of the evening! 8O
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
#6
Ant,
It all boils down to money: how is the ball to be paid for; will it be subsidised; if funded by ticket sales, how much will you be charging for tickets and when will you get confirmation of numbers, etc.. Once you have an idea of budget, you can 'cut your suit to fit your cloth' and start scoping for entertainment, etc. If you've got a huge budget the world's your oyster, but I'm sure like the rest of us you've got a limited purse. I would suggest you come back some detail on scope and then I'm sure you will get some good pointers. If you want any advice off line, give me a pm. (former PMC, but not the cr@p one referred to elsewhere in the forum)
 
#7
If you are doing a raffle or auction, perhaps a reverse auction would be a novel idea. It would be a bit more work on your end, but seems to be something people remember and have fun with.

The idea is to sell books of bid tickets at the door and people use those to make the lowest possible bids for various prizes. Whoever has the lowest unique bid, wins. It's pretty exciting to win something like a dvd player for 56p.
 
#8
4(T) said:
The best theme idea for a big ball (c.500) I've come up with was "Empires through the Ages". The challenge had been that all the younger generation wanted to dress up, but we had to cater for lots of senior crusties who weren't going to take kindly to invites telling them to turn up in S&M kit or whatever. The beauty of the "Empires" theme was that the crusties could turn up in mess kit/black tie (e.g. British Empire), whereas the younger (and older but irresponsible) generation could turn up in - togas ("Roman Empire", of course!). Since there have been a multitude of Empires, the theme gave people wide scope for costume choice (though I wasn't sure that "Star Wars" counted as a legitimate Empire....). It was also fairly easy & low cost to decorate different rooms/areas of the Mess and marquee.
Have to support this. We had an empire dinner at otc a few years ago and it worked really well. As stated great mix of costumes, and with the addition of a gigantic flag from a destroyer and lots of red white and blue bunting we had very cheaply decked out mess. As regards costs our annual ball is £40 all in including £10 for marqee hire. Book a decent band and make sure the chef pulls their finger out. oh, and make sure u have pipers......
 
#9
napier said:
Ant,
It all boils down to money: how is the ball to be paid for; will it be subsidised; if funded by ticket sales, how much will you be charging for tickets and when will you get confirmation of numbers, etc.. Once you have an idea of budget, you can 'cut your suit to fit your cloth' and start scoping for entertainment, etc. If you've got a huge budget the world's your oyster, but I'm sure like the rest of us you've got a limited purse. I would suggest you come back some detail on scope and then I'm sure you will get some good pointers. If you want any advice off line, give me a pm. (former PMC, but not the cr@p one referred to elsewhere in the forum)
Not very much i'm afraid, the budget will most likely be about £5500 or so, however there will be no costs for the food provided (buffet). All help so far is very much appreciated and lots of further thoughts/ideas/suggestions always welcomed.
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
#10
How much assistance can you expect from mess members/ball committee? If you don't yet have a committee, get one - one person cannot organise a ball properly and your job should be standing back and directing others (at least initially). Is your budget purely for entertainment/decoration, or do you have to pay building hire, staff costs, etc.?

How soon is the ball? - Many bands/acts are booked months ahead (especially summer weekends) and you don't want to be left with the dross. Ensure you get at least a demo CD, preferably a DVD. You must ensure that the entertainment matches the audience - nothing can kill a party quicker than the wrong music or jokes.

If you have many willing helpers, decoration is cheap. Have a decorating party - it takes the effort out of it. Themes mean scenery and props - speak to your local theatre/am dram soc to borrow them. What you can't borrow, steal or make. You'll find that the more investment people have made in a ball, the more they'll enjoy it on the night (pride in a job well done that translates into improving the mood).
 
#11
Seax said:
Sorry, bit off theme here but hopefully fairly relevent!

As far as balls at Sandhurst go, I've heard that guests are not permitted to stay on site post festivities. Does this mean telling the misses to sling her hook at the end of the evening! 8O
That was always the rule - even pre lumpy O/cdts - but it was always honoured more in the breach than the observance :wink:

And the Sandhurst summer ball (do they still happen?) was always a particularly good do...
 
#12
napier said:
How much assistance can you expect from mess members/ball committee? If you don't yet have a committee, get one - one person cannot organise a ball properly and your job should be standing back and directing others (at least initially). Is your budget purely for entertainment/decoration, or do you have to pay building hire, staff costs, etc.?

How soon is the ball? - Many bands/acts are booked months ahead (especially summer weekends) and you don't want to be left with the dross. Ensure you get at least a demo CD, preferably a DVD. You must ensure that the entertainment matches the audience - nothing can kill a party quicker than the wrong music or jokes.

If you have many willing helpers, decoration is cheap. Have a decorating party - it takes the effort out of it. Themes mean scenery and props - speak to your local theatre/am dram soc to borrow them. What you can't borrow, steal or make. You'll find that the more investment people have made in a ball, the more they'll enjoy it on the night (pride in a job well done that translates into improving the mood).
There is a group of about 6 who will be available to help. The budget is purely for entertainment and decoration, there are no building/staff costs etc to be taken into account.

The ball will be in late october. Again thank you for the hints and thoughts put across.
 
#13
Other good themes are:

Harry Potter

The Oscars

Easy way to decorate is by painting onto large cartridge paper (back of old maps glued together) and project desired picture onto paper with OHP or PC Projector. That way you can easily prepare beforehand quite impressive backgrounds.
 
#14
How about 'Footballers' Wives'
The birds get to dress up in really OTT dresses which show off cleavage, thighs, piercings etc and the blokes nip down to the nearest Corps/WOs & Sgts mess and borrow their suits. Jobs a good un.
 

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
#15
Select a letter of the alphabet, and everyone dresses as/in something beiginning with that letter. B could give you....

Bandit
Ballerina
Boss
Bloke
Bird

etc, etc, etc

It gives much more scope for individuality and creativity than 'Mississippi Riverboat' type themes.
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
#16
A reasonable 4-5 piece band should cost £1K (ish), with disco another £3-500 (dependant on quality). Ring around the various forces military bands - they all have their alter-ego incarnations and are pretty much excellent. Plus they know their audience and will tailor their set to match. You should get 2-3, 45 minute sets from a band, which you can intersperse with the disco. Don't go through an agency (personal view) as you'll pay more and be dealing with the band/disco via a 3rd party until quite late in the day - do the legwork yourself. You will be expected to feed/give a few drinks to the performers. If possible, don't pay until after they've performed, and keep a cash reserve in case the audience want another set beyond what you've contracted for.

If you have plenty of outside space (and good weather) think about circus/fair type sideshows. Don't waste your limited funds on fewer expensive things like dodgems - you won't get the return in terms of usage. Get a wider selection of smaller side shows like laser clay shooting, bucking bronco, sumo-suit wrestling, bouncy castle, etc. Don't go for a casino - they're usually crap and take up lots of space. If you get the side shows from the same source, attempt to negotiate a discount.

Try to get 20-30 people together to dress the venue (ideally as a party a couple of days before the ball). If you have too few, they'll get pi55ed off and the result will be minimalist (cr@p) anyway. I know its cheesy, but have a raffle - it'll offset the costs and everyone likes the chance to win a prize.

Have you thought about sponsorship? Approach breweries, local companies, etc. At the least you'll get free beermats and posters; if you are lucky, maybe some free booze - especially if they normally supply your organisation - or raffle prizes. Send your most charming type to schmooze the MD/rep.
 
#18
Napier's excellent advice on bands reminds me of a pet hate - bands and discos that are still setting up (and 'one-twoing') when the function starts. When I have been involved in arranging functions, I have always stipulated, as part of the contract, the time by which the band/disco must be ready, with the threat of less money if they aren't. It works.
 
#19
We once got a local bloke who did backdrops for the town am-dram society to paint huge murals. All it cost us was 3 tickets to the ball (Him, his wife and his daughter :wink: )


Consider themes relating to the date eg a home nations theme on a 6 nations w/e, or a French revolution theme on Bastille day.
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#20
Film themes are good: Casablanca allows Black tie, 40's suits. french or german uniforms, or arab dress etc
 
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