Small Talk

10 Tips for Surviving Gala Season

How to take a great photo, avoid those endless paddle raises and have great dinner-table conversation.

By Staff September 2, 2019 Published in the September 2019 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Image: Shutterstock

Uber it!

It’s safer if you’re consuming alcohol, plus you can skip the valet line at the end of the evening.

Touch it up

If you forgot to make a hair appointment, cover those gray roots with a quick spray from the drugstore. And search out make-up/mascara that doesn’t drip in the humidity.

Put your best foot forward—literally

When posing for the paparazzi, it’s one foot out, hands on hip—that’s the way.

Skip the stilettos

Slip on comfy walking wear, especially if the party is outdoors, like Selby Gardens’ Orchid Ball. Besides, sneakers make you stand out. 

Excuse yourself

Avoid the endless paddle raise portion of the evening with a strategically timed bathroom break.


Keep the water coming if you’re sipping booze, especially if it’s warm.

Nibble beforehand

Remember Mammy’s advice to Scarlett O’Hara and eat a little something before the gala. It can take a while to be served your dinner, and you don’t want to be seen wolfing it down.

Rent the Runway

Find your party wear at You run less risk of seeing your dress on someone else, and you don’t have it hanging in your closet forever.

Keep it light

For your dinner table conversation, avoid politics—unless you really want to stir things up.

Snag that must-have auction item

Don’t be ashamed of hovering over that Jeremy Hammond-Chambers dinner- for-8 auction sheet, or wait until last call is announced and make a dash for it.

Get involved!

Grateful for how arts and culture enrich our community? Visit to find organizations that match your interests.

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