Big/Little Process

Informant is a student at USC. Theatre major, girl, brunette, an older sister, a cat mother, a child of divorced parents, and a resident of multiple states – CA, OR, WA, TX.

For Big/Little what we do is – I think a lot of sororities kind of do it the same, but for us at least – the Littles submit the name of five people they want to be their Bigs, and the Bigs submit five names of people they want to be their Littles.

First explain the concept of Big and Little.

In sororities, there’s a Big, and there’s a Little. And a Big is like their mentor. Throughout their time in college. And beyond. And it’s just kind of a closer relationship. So it’s like a mutual selection of who you want to be your Big and Little.  So that way you end up liking the person who is your Big or Little. And once it’s been decided, the Bigs are told who their Little is. And then they buy ‘em a bunch of gifts. And basically get rid of their entire bank account. On gifts. Lots and lots of gifts. The first day – there’s like three days of gifts, I think – the first day is Monday of that week, and we give them all of their favorite things, ‘cause they submit a little survey, so you know their favorite kind of candy, and their favorite stuffed animal kind of thing, y’know like cute little fun things. The second day is a delivery kit, for sending cute little presents and stuff between sororities and fraternities, like little gift bags, and tape, and tissue paper, and candy, and stuff like that. And you decorate the box all pretty with their name on it. And the third day is a blanket with their name on it, and the sorority letters on it. And it’s all comfy and cute and really expensive.

Do you have one of those?

I do. I do. My little – I didn’t put her name on it, ‘cause it was really expensive, but I put the letters on it. But yeah. And then I guess on Thursday or Friday – maybe I have the days mixed up – but on the fourth day there’s like this big “reveal.” You have gotten clues all throughout the week of who your Big is and everything, and they’re really bad clues – usually they’re lies. I don’t lie, but mine are really vague clues, like my first pet was a fish named Rainbow. No one knows these things. And then at the end of the week you have reveal, where they have to follow this incredibly difficult scavenger hunt kinda trail thing, in order to find the final clue, and their costume, and then they find a gigantic box related to their costume, and inside the box is their Big! They pop out and surprise them and then people cry and scream – in a happy way, because they’re excited. And a little bit scared there’s a person in the box. It’s very fun.

How elaborate are the scavenger hunts? Is there a standard format for them?

It’s not really a scavenger hunt scavenger hunt, it’s kinda like a string maze kinda thing. But we don’t tell them what it’s going to be, but in actuality it’s a string maze. And they have to follow their string to their costume

Costume for…

To find their Big! Their big is in a matching costume. And the box corresponds to it sort-of-not-really. It just says their name on it. Cause you get all dressed up in a matching costume and then you go out and do something fun, like go out to dinner or go roller skating or something. In your little matching outfits. It’s very sorority. And usually they’re pretty standard costumes. But this year we had someone who was a monkey and a banana. That was really fun.

Does the Big pick the costume?

Yes. But it’s usually something to do with the Little’s likes. For my Big and Little, I love pandas. And my Big dressed us up as pandas. And then for my Little – she really loves travels, so I dressed us up as French people. So – corresponding to what they would like.

When you went through the process of finding out who your Big was, how did you feel about it?

It was really exciting. But a little bit confusing ‘cause everyone was like “Oh I totally know who my Big is!” And I just had no clue. ‘Cause the clues were really horrible. And they just threw me off. But it was very fun and exciting.

Did you like all the gifts?

I did! She spared no expense, and I got t-shirts and nail polish and headbands and stuff like that. Magazines, candy. She baked me brownies. Peanut butter brownies. So I baked my Little either cookies or brownies, I don’t remember.

Like your Big did for you!

Do you do things outside of this particular week – do you have Big/Little time?

Basically yes. Last night we were eating dinner together, just at the house, and then she was like “Well, I don’t have anything to do right now, do you want to go to Goodwill? And so we went shopping at Goodwill and bought a ton of stuff we didn’t need. It was fun. And we do bi-weekly fro-yo runs, and just as often as we can we get ice cream and fro-yo. And we’re gonna live together next year. It’s very exciting. She’s a wonderful person. Littles are awesome.

Do you ever do stuff with all of you together – grand-Big, grand-Little?

We’ve got this gigantic family tree, and we have this little Facebook group for it too, so it’s not just like my Big, it’s also up to her great-grandbig who is the head of our family, so it’s huge. We try to plan things together, but there’s so many of us that no one shows up. So we’re trying to plan smaller things, just with my grandbig and everything

Your individual line?

Yeah. So we haven’t gotten much done yet, just because she’s graduating this year so she has to finish things up. But then we’re gonna try and all hang out.

But you try. And you keep a family tree.

We do. It’s very big, it’s very elaborate, it’s very cool.

Do people have multiple Littles?

Mhmm. That’s why our tree’s so big. There’s two people with three Littles in it. And my Big has two Littles, including me. So the tree just keeps expanding. But then there’s one little line over here when it only has one Little per person, but then everyone else is like khrrr. How many Littles do you want today?


I am also part of a greek organization on campus, and we have a similar practice. Bigs and Littles get matched up by preference, there is a week where the Littles get clues, and there is a reveal at the end. The acts on each day and the process of the reveal are different. That is to be expected from a different community/group of people, to have their own spin on the process. Multiplicity and variation, y’all.

The big/little practice aids in community-building within a house, since often these organizations have more members than the small pack humans like to align themselves with. This prevents anyone from getting lost in the fray so no one gets left alone in the dirt.