How to Host a Debutante Ball

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Traditionally, young ladies are presented at a debutante ball to celebrate their completion of study in philanthropic and community service areas, to celebrate entering adulthood, to be formally presented as eligible for dating, or to celebrate a significant birthday between the ages of 15 and 18. Hosting such an event is quite and honor and there are a few things you should know before sending out the invitations!

Early Preparations

  • Choose the month or season for the ball. Most traditional debutante balls are held anywhere from November to January, when eligible bachelors were home visiting family for the holidays! Some cultures hold a debutante ball during the girl's birthday.

  • Plan early for a formal affair complete with music, dinner and dancing. It's similar to hosting a wedding or prom. Determine if the function will be black tie or white tie, and plan early for the location of the event, music provisions, formal dinner catering and decorations.

  • Determine if the debutante would like her party to benefit a favorite charity or otherwise provide philanthropic funds for a particular cause. This should be clearly noted on invitations if the purpose of her ball is to benefit a cause greater than herself.

  • Prepare the guest list with the help of the debutante. It will include her family, an immediate list of girlfriends, then friends and family of her parents and the hostess, if the hostess is not her parents. The list should include eligible bachelors of fine breeding and social status, who are friends of the family, as well as their acquaintances!

  • Choose the location and be sure it can accommodate the guest list. It can be simple and personal at a home, or you can rent a hall or location depending on the guest list, as long as you can accommodate all the elements of a debutante ball: presenting the debutante, providing a formal dinner, music and dancing.

  • Select the type of music that will be played at the party and prepare well in advance. It can be traditional waltz music or chosen from today's recording artists and it can be provided by a live band or DJ. Consult with the debutante on what she prefers based on the style, purpose and potential cultural influences of her debutante ball.

Prepare For The Event

  • Send the invitations at least 8 weeks in advance, then be prepared to answer questions regarding possible gift-giving and other situations for the debutante ball. Many people are unfamiliar with the purpose and reason for a debutante ball and what is expected of them as a guest or an escort.

  • Decorate the home or hall where the ball will be held with flowers. Often, it's customary for the debutante to begin receiving flowers a few days before her ball from friends and family. These should all be displayed throughout the hall or home for a festive, personal touch.

  • Introduce the young lady at the ball. This can be done by establishing a simple receiving line upon entry into the hall or home provided by the hostess. The hostess should stand closest to the entrance to receive the guests first, with the debutante next to her. The host or hostess should introduce the debutante in the receiving line to each guest.

  • Present the debutante to the assembled party just prior to serving dinner. The debutante makes a grand entrance, usually with her father, to curtsy and be escorted to her table. Provide a white runner for her to walk on, whether she descends stairs in the home or makes an entrance into a hall, where she will take her curtsy.

  • Have a formal dinner served, preceded by a prayer or toast to the debutante, with fine dinner music playing softly in the background.

  • Let the music and dancing begin! Remember that the evening is the celebration or rite of passage of a young lady into adulthood. It's a night to celebrate her and provide an evening that honors and embraces who she is. Keep the focus on her as you host the event, and she'll have an evening to remember for the rest of her life.

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