How to Follow the Proper Etiquette at a Debutant Ball

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A debutant ball, which marks a young woman's official entry into society, is a time-honored tradition that continues to this day. Since this practice is so old, it's no wonder there are standard rules of proper etiquette one must follow when planning and attending a debutant ball.

Follow the Proper Etiquette at a Debutant Ball

  • Use the smallest room in the venue, or home, as the receiving room. The largest room should be reserved for dining and dancing. When the venue has only one room for you to use, you should section off the smallest area to receive your ball guests.

  • Place the debutant behind the host, on the side furthest from the entrance. It doesn't matter whether this is to the right or left of the host.

  • Have the host shake hands with every person who comes through the room and thank them for coming. The host will then present the debutant, who will also offer a handshake.

  • Encourage the receiving line to move quickly by offering a quick, formal greeting. When there is no line, short pleasantries about the weather, society or even the ball may be exchanged.

  • Expect bouquets to come in from friends, family, acquaintances and admirers of the debutant. Ideally, the debutant should hold one of the bouquets in her hand while in the receiving line. However, to discourage favoritism, she should opt for the bouquet given to her by her father or another close male relative.

  • Seat the debutant at her own table, next to her escort. The escort is someone who has either asked for the honor of sitting next to the debutant well in advance or who the debutant has chosen before the ball. The rest of her table may be chosen according to her wishes.

  • Encourage the debutant to dance with several young men throughout the evening. While she is free to show some preference to her escort, she should follow proper etiquette and dance with many young men, unless there are currently no other offers.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remind the debutant to be attentive to all of her guests while at the receiving line. Although it may seem a bit tedious to someone so young, and she may get distracted by her friends, remind her it is her first duty as a "grown-up" hostess to receive all of her guests personally, with undivided attention.

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