A Guide To The Perfect Formal Cooler — A Guy Weighs In

Formal season is nearly here again. It’s the magical time of the year where we all dress up nice and take ourselves, our brothers and our dates off to the mountains or the beaches to get so drunk that the concept of sober seems like something a crazy person created to scare us. For those of us hosting the weekends, one of the biggest perks (other than a weekend drinking out of town with a smokeshow sharing your bed) is the formal cooler. I know all you ladies basically compete with each other like you’re Katniss Everdeen in The Cooler Games, but they end up being a sort of status thing for guys too. Hot date + awesome cooler = you have basically won formal weekend, so long as you don’t pass out in a pool of your own vomit or date swap and downgrade.

Every formal, I get the same question from my date: what do you want on it? This either boils down to a bunch of really transparent questions about my favorite food, liquor, movie, etc. or just a direct line of questions leading up to her eventual design for it. The amount of time and effort the average date puts into one of these is probably more intense than the design process for your average mega-skyscraper. So, I have a few tips for making a cooler that any fraternity man would be proud to have carry his booze for the next few years:

Keep It Simple
Keep It Simple
Creativity on a cooler is definitely appreciated. The first one a date made for me had a full re-creation of the title screen for Archer with my favorite quote from the show on one side of it. It had an entire mountain scene done using only colored duct tape on the top. The girl was on her game. The only issue was that because it wasn’t paint, it’s been a bitch to keep it from fading or getting destroyed when I take it to the beach, so I usually take one of my other coolers.

On the same end of things, don’t make it a Picasso. This cooler is going to endure an amount of abuse that would be considered inhumane if it were a living thing. If your feelings will be hurt by seeing it used as a makeshift chair at the beach, dial back on the effort you’re putting into it, but know that we do appreciate you creating the thing that will fuel many blackout weekends to come.

It’s What’s On The Inside That Counts
It's What's On The Inside That Counts
Your cooler for your date could have laser lights, speakers, a DJ stand and a fog machine built into it, but if there is no booze and food in it, you will probably have a pretty unhappy (and sober) date. No one goes to formal to be sober. Fill it up with his favorite alcohol. I always go with whiskey and rum, but that’s because I like to get drunk fast, while pretending I’m a rugged country guy (I’m not). As long as the drinks and the food you include in the cooler are something he likes, your date will confirm early on that he made the right choice for the weekend. Also, pack some water. When everyone breaks out the hard liquor for pong, flip cup or kings, you’ll be able to keep him from spending a night hugging a toilet instead of hanging out with you.

Cool It With The Pastels
Cool It With The Pastels
I get it. I like pastels. Everyone likes pastels, unless they’re some godless commie. That said, if my cooler looks like the Easter Bunny went on an egg dye bender and puked on my cooler, it might be a bit much. Normal colors work too, and sometimes things just don’t need to be pastel colored.

Make It Portable
Make It Portable
If I need a sherpa and a pack mule to carry my cooler into the hotel, it might need to lose a couple pounds for it to really be practical. A painted thermos is way too small and a mini-fridge disguised as a cooler is going to be way too big. Find a happy medium, preferably something that has a plug so I don’t have to clean the whole thing out to drain water out of it.

Creativity Is Key
Creativity Is Key
You don’t have to be Georgia O’Keeffe for me to respect the art on my cooler. I’ll probably love it as long as it looks decent and contains enough alcohol to kill me two or three times over. That said, if you go the distance and make it look like a piece of art, I will treat it sort of like a piece of art, in that I will admire it as I sit on the beach drinking my beer, and remember I had a wonderful date who made it for me. As potentially not frat as it is to admit we have emotions and feelings, a good cooler is a solid way to our hearts around formal time.

Keep these things in mind and the guy who has asked you to join him for the weekend will love the cooler. We’re actually not that hard to impress with these things. God knows I can’t even put together artistically constructed stick figures, let alone make a cooler look like a work of art. I’m amazed literally every time I get one.


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Primarily a TFM and PGP guy. I do science for a living, but being funny on the internet is my passion. Sometimes I write for TSM to help further cement the core arguments for why I'm not boyfriend material. Snapchat: Jqwhiskeyginger

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