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

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/

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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