We have a dining in night every year around the date the squadron was formed.
We’ve used lots of different venues over the years but ultimately where it is doesn’t make a huge difference.
Like other people have been saying we do the whole formal thing - black tie/no. 5/interim mess dress for the cadets - in recent years our OC has also agreed to let the female cadets wear dresses instead of mess dress if they’d like but it’s totally optional so cadets aren’t expected to go out and buy a new outfit.
We do the whole waiting for the top table thing, our longest serving member of staff says grace, no one leaves their table during the meal etc. After coffee we do speeches and awards, Mr Vice leads the toasts and then says some jokes. Mr Vice then usually hands over to the Squadron WO who will tell some more jokes then everyone disperses.
Some of the younger staff have been trying to convince the OC to let us have some music afterwards but he is not keen so hasn’t happened yet.
For major anniversaries we tend to book a more impressive venue but numbers stay roughly the same. Being in a city we have lots of options for venues but try and keep it local to make it easier for parents to drop off and pick up.
Cost wise - staff and guests will pay more in order to subsidise the tickets for cadets. The civcom will also generally provide a bit of money to subsidise cadet tickets.
The one thing I would say about these events is make sure you’re planning far in advance, we’ve left it to the last-minute in the past and it is not worth the stress…