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Party On? Well, if you Must . . . Here Are Tips for Surviving Inaugural Balls

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No one knows inaugural parties like Roxanne Roberts. Here, the Reliable Source columnist shares insider tips on getting through the festivities unscathed.Video by Rebecca Davis/washingtonpost.com

My one tip: Insist your and your date's coats go on the same hanger and claim check. Wear a bright-colored scarf and wrap it around the coats so they'll be easier to spot in the sea of black. Then pray.

Getting around: First, let's hope if the Presidential Inaugural Committee is running shuttles from local hotels to the ball sites. No word if that's going to happen -- but if so, that's your best bet for getting to and from the parties.

Second-best bet: Hire a car and driver. If you never, ever hire one again in your life, this is the night to do it. A limo will get as close as possible to the ball venue and maybe even close enough so you can leave your coats in the car. A limo means you can drink without worrying about a designated driver. A limo can also inch you around town when you discover the ball is even lamer than you anticipated and it's time to go somewhere -- anywhere -- else.

Taxis? Good luck with that. Driving and parking your own car? Go for it, if arriving at the ball in time to see the president isn't a big deal. Maybe all those dire predictions of gridlock are overkill, and it will be smooth sailing that night.

No big bucks for a car and driver? Metro is your late-night friend, baby, open until 2 a.m. A safe, efficient way to get to the ball, although it might mean walking a few blocks. Flats -- remember?

Food and drink: Eat before you go. Grab something at home or make reservations and enjoy a good meal. The food at these official and pricey affairs ranges from cheese and crackers to various over-steamed buffets. Assume the worst, and you won't be disappointed.

The good news about the bars: Will serve some form of alcohol. Bad news: Usually cash, with wine or beer only (if you're lucky, cheap liquor), plastic cups, long lines. Have a nice cocktail of your choice elsewhere before. Skip the flask. Won't go through the metal detector. Plastic? We're "don't ask, don't tell" on that one.

Final tip: Keep it light. Bring one of those cheap disposable cameras. Laugh a lot. Enjoy the moment. Assume this will be your first -- and only -- inaugural ball.

Trust me: It will.


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