They pull into the driveway of the hotel and step out of their car.

One fancy foot after the other, they make their way up to the hotel ballroom where they greet their fellow good-looking classmates. With the buzz of conversation and the holiday ambiance floating in the air, it’s easy to forget that behind this grand arrival, Winter Banquet preparations can be very stressful for students. For some, it is smooth sailing. For others, finding the right outfit or keeping to a reasonable budget can feel like a wild scavenger hunt.

When asked how difficult Winter Banquet shopping is for them, HBA students had mixed opinions. Senior Haley Pilien said, “It’s hard but it’s something I really enjoy. Usually I’m searching [for a dress] way ahead of time to avoid stress.” Just like Pilien, many girls have a hard time shopping for Winter Banquet clothes, and some said they don’t enjoy the process. Senior Taylor White, who has attended every banquet since her freshman year, said, “[Shopping] takes forever and I have to try on multiple dresses and go to many stores. It is exhausting! There never seems to be the perfect dress, and honestly, all of the nice dresses I’ve gotten so far are very expensive.”

In contrast, boys tend to have an easier time. Junior Auahi Aiu said, “I didn’t find Winter Banquet shopping hard because I just wore my Sunday best that was in my closet.” Like Aiu, many other boys just utilized what they already owned. Senior Bradley Wong killed two birds with one stone by wearing his Mock Trial clothes to last year’s banquet.

Students go to a variety of stores to get their Winter Banquet essentials. Stores like Express, Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, and Calista are some of the first places that students go to. Some also visit online stores like Amazon and Modcloth. Where a student decides to shop is often based on how much money he or she is willing or able to spend. Pillien said, “I’ve never had a set budget but I would never spend more than around $80 for a shorter dress.” White said, “[In] my freshman year, I spent about $30 at The Rack. [In my] sophomore year I spent about $120, which was just unreasonable, and [in] junior year I probably spent $50 for a dress that I was only moderately fond of. This year I hope to find something under $50 at the Dress Drive.”



“The best thing I’ve done is buy the tie for my date so I was sure that it matched my dress.”

Senior Taylor White



In addition to budget constraints, students at HBA also have to be mindful of the school banquet dress code. More often for girls, the dress code for Winter Banquet rules out a lot of options on the store racks. Sophomore Heather Araki said, “That cute dress I really wanted was one inch too short!” In contrast, Sophomore Cameron Brewer said, “HBA dress code did not affect my buying choices at all.” Although HBA’s dress code might not be as much of a problem for the boys, finding the right shirt or tie to match with their date can be challenging. Reflecting on last year’s banquet, Araki explained, “Because I am the girl, I think I had the easy job. All I had to do was pick a dress I liked. My date however was the one who had to coordinate his outfit with mine. I tried my best not to be picky, but of course, we gotta look good.” Some guys have dates who do their shopping for them. White said, “The best thing I’ve done is buy the tie for my date so I was sure that it matched my dress.” White was sure to get reimbursed by her date.

In addition to clothing expenses, students also have to factor in the cost of banquet pictures, flowers, and getting their hair, makeup, and nails done. Despite the stress this may cause, Sophomore Blythe Yoshikane reminds students that the banquet it ultimately about having fun. “It’s all about who can dance the best,” she said.

This year’s Winter Banquet will be held on December 22 at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki.