Sorority and fraternity formals are essentially the prom of college life. Usually held in the months leading up to summer vacation, spring formals are usually lower maintenance than high school cousin, and are really the last opportunity senior students have to engage in a little fun before Graduation Day (but hey, freshmen are welcomed too). The magic of the event is that house brothers and sisters get all dolled, invite a special someone to dance the night away, and have all the fun they can handle without having to follow too many rules.
Sound like fun?
If you find yourself in charge of the planning, there are a few theme ideas that can make the event more enjoyable. Yes, we’re all adults now, but everybody loves themes, right? They add a certain essence to gatherings and can keep your guests invested from the time you send out your invitations to the moment they arrive at the venue. Something as simple as a title theme will suggest dress code to attendees and will signal what they expect for the evening.
Once you have settled on a motif, you can set about selecting the decorations, food, refreshments and music needed to bring your vision to life.
Here are some of the most popular themes for spring formals, as well as some gift ideas.
An Evening with the Stars
Who doesn’t love the movie stars? Maybe the number one theme of all time, a red carpet theme makes your guests feel like Hollywood A-listers. A golden age of the silver screen night throws the spotlight on the classics: long sparkling gowns for the ladies, and elegant black attire for the gents. Consider a “Walk of Fame” entrance to your venue, and a stunning star backdrop to frame the moment.
And of course, champagne. You can serve it straight or, here’s an idea: It’s never too late in the day for mimosas. Champagne glasses personalized with your fraternity or sorority letters are ideal for a celebratory toast, and they contribute to the décor – what’s classier than champagne flutes on white linen? They can even be displayed in a pyramid for your guests to pick up as they arrive.
Viva Las Vegas
Casino nights are another popular theme for spring formals, and for good reason. When you bring Sin City to your formal event, you make playing the focus of the entire evening. Blackjack and roulette table rentals are affordable, and miniature Eiffel tower replicas (Paris is one of the top casinos in Vegas, after all) make cool centerpieces. Recreate some of the famous historical signs from around town (Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Vegas Vic, etc.) to put your brothers and sister right at the center of Flitter Gulch.
Think showgirls, money wheels, cards, and maybe even an Elvis impersonator. Dress up for like the Rat Pack and make sure everyone takes pictures so that nothing is forgotten. Custom poker chips are the icing on the cake.
Spring Time in Tuscany
Tutto molto bono! A lot of us dream of dinning and drinking fine Brunello with a few of our best friends near the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but maybe now isn’t the best time since you’re all going to be new graduates with other pressing priorities - like finding a job or applying to grad school.
Start with a romantic scenery. A vineyard backdrop sets the mood, and a few strands of accent Christmas lights around the room for an intimate twist. Serve only Italian dishes like lasagna, chicken parmesan or spaghetti – obviously - and let the wine flow. Brunellos are wonderful, but maybe too expensive for an undergraduate budget. But there are plenty of other Italian varieties that are as tasty as they are affordable. Investigate your local wine shop’s selection of Valpolicellas, Primitivos, Sangioveses and even the old stand-by, the reliable Chianti.
Wine goblets imprinted with your letter and class year make great takeaway mementos that you’ll still be displaying proudly in 30 years. When you are older and more successful, there’s nothing quite like unwinding with a nice Tuscan vintage at the end of a good week, and this elegant and functional keepsakes will let you remember the best time of your life as you relax.
Old school party themes for spring formals are fun because there simply are so many to choose from. Think about it - decades come and go, and you can always add a little modern touch to make it unique. Let loose with a Great Gatsby ‘20’s flapper theme, or maybe 1950s sock hop. A favorite among sororities, old school themes get the creative juices flowing in ways that let all the member of the house contribute.
Our all-time favorite revolves around the 80’s Hip-Hop scene: I can just hear “Bust a More” and Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” blasting in the background.
If you go this route, magnetic save-the-date themed cards are a nice touch that help focus your planning. Plus you can customize with your unique design.
Black and White Ball
It’s the swan song for your college social career and the commencement to a bright new future. You know what they say: when in Rome!
A black and white masquerade ball can transform your spring formal into a grand affair. Invoke the spirit of Truman Capote’s legendary 1966 and recreate the fabulous collision of art, fashion, and celebrity (without all the unnecessary drama, of course). This theme oozes urban sophistication and you should feel free to ask your guests to limit their clothing this elegantly minimal palette.
If you’d like to say thanks to the sisters who helped plan the event, consider beautiful black and white tote bags as a classic, understated reward for their commitment.
So there are our top five themes for spring formals; these sophisticated concepts are tried and true winner, but each allows you to infuse the proceedings with your own creative touch. We also think our gift tips will serve as reminders of your college years that your brothers and sisters will cherish for decades.