This coming weekend is my boyfriend's fraternity formal! On Friday we are heading to Pawley's Island for a weekend at the beach- hanging out and dancing the night away! So since they guys pay for pretty much everything (the hotel, dinner both nights, the actual formal dance) all the dates decorate coolers and pack them with drinks and snacks for the weekend. I don't know if this is a tradition outside of southern universities, but for weeks leading up to the function there are no coolers, or paint pens or spray fix to be found in any nearby Walmart and there are dozens of girls sitting in the sun or on dorm balconies painting away and listening peppy music.
This is my fourth year of cooler painting. I am a pro. In fact if I wasn't overloading and up to my eyeballs in school work, I would actually volunteer my painting services to other less-crafty girls (for the price of paint).
Cooler painting is a process and I would like to share that process with you.
Step one: Research
Know your date. Figure out what they like so you can make their cooler personal. Where are they from? What year in school are they? What sports teams do they support? Are they really preppy? Or fratty? Or trippy? Do they like to fish? Do they only wear patagonia?
Now if they are a freshmen it's really easy. It's their first cooler, they have no expectations plus it's their first formal in the fraternity so you can go all "fratty". Include their pledge number, their chapter, their fraternity's seal or crest or flag or all three.
Also know basic function information: location, date, etc.
For inspiration (or if you have no idea what the heck I am talking about and if you want to feel a little overwhelmed) visit the Cooler Connection. It's a facebook group with over 4,000 members and over 3,000 pictures of coolers. Here are some images I pulled from there for my cooler: my mood-board if you will...
Step two: Preparation
Gather your materials. Buy your cooler- the best cooler has a lot of flat surfaces which are easier to paint on. Buy paint and paint pens. Paint pens are key, they make everything look better. Now I have accumulated sooooo much paint and craft materials over my four years at college from all the cooler painting and homecoming painting and sorority crafting that I have an overflowing craft box. I suggest labeling all your paints and materials with your initials because you'll probably end up sharing with your friends and that way you get it all back in the end.
Step three: have fun, and just do it!
Since it takes a lot longer to paint a cooler than you'd think, I recommend the following: definitely do it with friends, if possible do it outside in a bathing suit so you can get tan while you work or pop in a movie or put on some pump up music and enjoy. Here is a picture of what I have on my cooler so far. I have a long way to go...
(the top so far-cup holders are not my friend)
(the back so far)
(one side so far-the checkered bit and the blue and pink stripes are patterns I copied from Peter's bathing suits, this way he'll match his cooler!)
By the way... this cooler is HUGE! I actually fit inside it. I told Peter that and he said : "Oh good, I've been looking for a place to keep you." Hehe, he's kidding of course. Here's a (bad) picture of me in the cooler so you can get some perspective.