Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the 239th Marine Corps Birthday Ball. Every year around the Marine Corps Birthday, which is November 10th 1775, each Marine Corps unit holds a celebratory birthday ball to honor the traditions of the Marine Corps. I have had the pleasure of attending many birthday balls with my Marine and every time I am honored to be there.
As a little girl I was not the “girly” type, but like many girls I did want to slowly walk down a spiral staircase in a gorgeous dress and dance in an open ballroom under the stars with… a beast. He was really prince, anyways it’s still my favorite Disney princess movie. Well, as you can see that’s what Disney does to you. The closest thing most of us get to ballgown attire is Prom or maybe a fancy wedding. Nowadays most don’t even wear ball gown attire to Prom and many don’t have fancy ball gown wearing weddings. As a grown up, I know I really don’t want to be a Disney princess or fall in love with a beast, that being said, going to a birthday ball with a Marine feels pretty darn magical, if I do say so myself. If you’ve seen the Marine Corps Dress Blues, then you know what I am saying. For those of us lucky enough to be invited to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball, it is much better than any Disney fantasy, but there are some things to know. There are many blog posts out there explaining what to expect and a few tips. This is just my two cents. Also my two cents includes a recipe for delicious Marine Corps Birthday cupcakes. Honestly, Mr. Secrets cares much more about his Marine Corps birthday than his actual one. The one rule I always love about the Marine Corps Birthday is that there must be birthday cake. So, I needed to include a recipe to complete this post. But before cake time, some tips.
A Young Wife’s Marine Corps Birthday Ball Tips
1. Pick The Right Dress
There is some varying opinion on this topic. These are my opinions, but I can also tell you that I share the opinions of many other Marines and spouses I have talked to over the years. Choose a dress that compliments the Marine Corps Dress Blues. I am not saying everyone has to have a black, blue, or red dress, but personally I don’t think an orange or a zebra print dress is right for the birthday ball. Neons and puffy ball gowns could work for Prom, but not for the Birthday Ball. Also, think about the length of your dress. I think a long gown is best and fitting for the evening. On the other hand, I have seen some very classy and well worn tea length dresses that look very formal. Just nothing above the knee, remember this is a formal event. No short dresses, it’s not the club. You want to look hot, totally understandable, but this is a formal event and lingerie style dresses and wardrobe malfunctions are not acceptable. I’ve seen it and no one thinks of it in a positive way. Save the little black dress for another time. Think classy. Classy is always in style and always sexy. You reflect on your Marine. You also want to make sure you are comfortable, it can be a long evening. You want to make sure you can sit, stand, and dance in your dress. So dresses that are too tight or don’t fit won’t work. I promise if you are comfortable you will have more fun too!
2. Pull Together Your Look
I do not think you HAVE to get your nails, makeup, and hair done. I know many spouses that enjoy that and do it. If you want to splurge, go for it! I have always done my own makeup and hair. I also know some spouses that get together and help each other with hair and makeup. What’s important is that you pull your look together. Don’t just pull on the dress and say okay I’m set! Find some accessories and nice shoes to pull it all together. On the other side of the spectrum, don’t overdo! Don’t have smokey eyes, red lipstick, diamond bedazzled earnings, a sparkly necklace, beaded purse, and 6 inch heels. That is overkill. Find accessories to compliment your look and have your hair and makeup stand out from your everyday look. Remember classy.
3. Be Polite
Honestly, this is the one that usually makes me the most frustrated every year. Yes, I’ve seen some crazy dresses and even this year I literally saw a girl attend the ball in a sundress and suede ankle booties. Totally cute, just not appropriate.I think she got invited and just plain had no idea, but what really makes me frustrated beyond belief is when guests are not polite. After cocktail hour, the birthday ball normally starts with a very beautiful ceremony. It is full of tradition and there are many touching moments. I always get a bit teary eyed, but when people are talking during the ceremony I cannot believe it. I have been witness to people talking during the National Anthem playing, part of the ceremony piece is being explained and someone starts to giggle, or people can’t stand because they are a bit too tipsy. It’s just unbelievable. So, if you are a first time guest. Just don’t do this. This is a time to honor the traditions of the Marine Corps and for you to be very proud of the Marine who you are attending the ball with. If you aren’t sure what to do, take the cues of your Marine and the cues of others who have attended before.
4. Watch the Booze
If you are 21, there will be spirits to enjoy at the ball. Usually there is a cocktail hour to enjoy, sometimes there is wine on the table, and there is most likely a bar open the whole time. The ball is supposed to be fun, but you don’t want to be trashed before the ceremony starts. Now I am going to be honest, after the ceremony, have acceptable fun. After the ceremony is over we have celebrated big time! It’s a celebration of course, but also remember you represent the Marine who invited you and a stumbling date is not sexy or fun. Remember we are adults and we know how to responsibly drink.
5. Have Fun!
This is the most important one! Have a good time, it’s a birthday bash! Your Marine looks forward to this all year. Enjoy cocktail hour and meet new people. Be friendly and talk to the people at your table. Enjoy the ceremony and learn about Marine Corps traditions. Hopefully the food is good, but if not enjoy the conversation. Eat some birthday cake! Dance and enjoy the after party. It is an awesome night out. My very first Birthday Ball weekend as a Marine girlfriend was most likely the weekend that I realized I loved my Marine, it definitely set us down the path to true love. My second Birthday Ball weekend is what one of my dearest friends and I call our “friendaversary.” Our husbands introduced us over the ball weekend and we had one of the most fun-filled weekends I have ever had at any Marine Corps Ball. There is so much to enjoy, the Birthday Balls are some of my fondest memories and something I look forward to each year.
I love the traditions of the Marine Corps and I always love watching the Marines who work so hard to have a day to really celebrate. Since our ball was early this year, we will be celebrating the actual birthday at home with a good steak dinner and Chocolate Chip cupcakes! As I said in my very first recipe post, Mr. Secrets doesn’t really like sweets, but I LOVE eating and baking sweet treats! Being in the kitchen and baking is my zen, especially if we are talking cakes. As I said earlier though, Marine Corps Birthdays must have Birthday cake! So I decided to make Chocolate Chip cupcakes with Very Vanilla Frosting, a cupcake even Mr. Secrets can appreciate! These cupcakes are as delicious as homemade chocolate chip cookies with a deliciously simple vanilla frosting.
Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Very Vanilla Frosting
Chocolate Chip Cupackes
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup of chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Cream the butter, sugar, eggs and the vanilla. In a separate bowl mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour mix to the mixing bowl with the butter mixture. Combine the mixture. Add milk alternatively to the flour mixture until both are gone. Last add the chocolate chips. Fill the baking cups about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 15 mins.
Very Vanilla Frosting
3 cups of powdered sugar
1/3 cup of butter
3 tsp of vanilla
2-4 Tbsp of milk
For the frosting, I add the powdered sugar and butter and beat it with my whisk attachment. With the mixer still mixing, I add the vanilla. Lastly, I gradually add the milk. Start with 2 Tbsp, if the frosting is of a good consistency stop there. If you need it to be creamier, add more milk.
Here’s to the Marines that faithfully serve our country,