Cinderella, you shall go to the ball: tips and tricks for surviving ball season

Ball season is upon us once again and, if you have been lucky enough to attend your college or subject ball before, then you will know that it brings its own stresses along with the fun. Balls often coincide with the end of term, when everyone is a little worse for wear, with lectures to catch up on, lacking sleep, and summatives and exams looming. So, whether this is your first rodeo or you’ve got your ball prep routine down to a tee, here are some tips and tricks to make sure you get the most out of that expensive ticket!


What do you want to spend your money on?

When it comes to actually buying your ball tickets, consider what you really want to get out of the event. In my first year, I decided to only buy ents tickets (entertainment only, not dining). I wanted to prioritise paying for dining in my later years, when I had a firm friendship group and would value coming back to my college to see all the people you don’t see as much when you live out. Obviously, this is a personal choice, but do not feel pressured to buy a dining ticket just because that is what everyone else around you is doing.

Ents tickets typically start around 9 pm, after the dinner has finished, and then you will have access to the entire event and can join your friends who have been dining. A fun idea is to go out for dinner beforehand with everyone going for ents (Spags is a favourite), grab a takeaway, or even host a little dinner party if you have the catering facilities. Balls are expensive, so make the right decision for you.


Be savvy with your outfits

By now, most of us are aware that we need to be reducing our consumption, especially of fast fashion. Event dresses that are usually only worn once are the perfect place to start with this, as if you buy a new one every time, it’s highly unlikely that you will get your money back per wear.

Try buying second-hand on sites like Vinted, Depop, and Facebook Marketplace. Recently, I have taken the time to stop at the checkout and have a quick search to see if the item I want to buy has been listed on Vinted – it’s such a great way to save both the environment and your money. Buying second-hand also increases the chances of finding a unique, interesting piece that no one else has.

Other places you could search would be Durham’s trusty charity shops, such as Scope or The Children’s Society on North Road. Though the selection is often smaller, you can get lucky if you keep checking in, and the thrill of finding the perfect piece in your size is so much more fun than a delivery notification.


Test run your shoes

This required its own point because I believe this is the most important part of preparing for a ball. If you intend to wear heels, make sure they are comfy!

Durham colleges, especially on the Bailey, are riddled with cobbles, steep steps, and slippery dance floors. There is nothing worse than attending a ball and realising that your feet are dying and you’re about to topple over within the first hour. It may seem obvious, but I’ve bought fancy new shoes and forgotten that I need to wear them for more than 5 minutes too many times. In case of emergency, for yourself or your friends, bring blister plasters and comfort padding. They will fit into a pocket or a handbag and can be a lifesaver.


Make the most of the food

Many colleges host food trucks throughout the night and usually these are open for the ents ticket holders as well. However, most of them will not be staying open until 3 am, so if you see them open and want to get your money’s worth, make a beeline for them. Speaking from personal experience, the chaos of the night can make it easy to miss out and end up starving hungry – you have paid for that food, so make grabbing some a priority!


Featured image by: Tara Winstead

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