15+ Trendy Sorority Paddle Design Ideas For Your Sorority Big

Trying to create the perfect sorority paddle for your big? Check out these trendy and inspiring sorority paddles you could recreate for your big.

In sororities, about 6-months to a year after a sorority big little duo has been together, their relationship is commemorated with a special jersey-paddle swap event.

During this event, every sorority big “surprises” her little with a sorority jersey with her nickname on it, and in return, the little gives her big a custom sorority paddle.

Each sorority paddle is unique and some littles spend months thinking about the perfect paddle design for their sorority big.

If you’re a sorority little searching for the perfect paddle design for your big, then look no further.

In today’s blog post, I am sharing 15+ trendy sorority paddle design ideas for your sorority big. We will also discuss some details about sorority paddles and what the big deal is about them.

A woman painting a sorority paddle for her big. Text overlay says, "sorority paddle design ideas for your big"

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What are paddles for in sororities?

Wooden paddles are decorative gifts that sorority littles give to their bigs at a special jersey-paddle swap ceremony.

A paddle is a keepsake for the big, so wherever the big goes in life, she will always remember her little and the memories they have shared.

When do sororities do the jersey-paddle swaps?

Some sororities will have special days for this event, like after sorority initiation or recruitment retreat–this is what my sorority chapter did.

However, some sororities will let bigs and littles choose when they want to do this event on their own time.

In my experience, if a sorority big (or little) had already graduated or studied abroad when the official event happened, she and her little (or big) would do the swap on their own time.

You may also like: 5 Practical Tips To Help You Get The Sorority Big You Want

Do all sororities do a jersey-paddle swap?

Actually no, not all sororities do a jersey-paddle swap. Most sororities do though, but it depends on the guidelines set by your sorority’s national or international headquarters.

For example, my sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, does not allow bigs and littles to do an official jersey-paddle swap because of the history of hazing associated with paddles.

Instead, we do a crescent moon, jersey swap.

It’s basically the same thing, though.

Just instead of giving our bigs a paddle, we give them wooden crescent moons.

However, not all bigs and littles partake in this special jersey-paddle swap. I didn’t.

When I was in a sorority, I had a rocky relationship with my first Big, so I arranged to pick up my jersey at our sorority recruitment retreat without having to participate in the crescent moon, jersey swap.

Even after I was adopted by another girl in my sorority, we did not do a swap. It just wasn’t necessary, in my opinion.

Juliet Meiling holding her sorority jersey up in front of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority house at the University of Georgia.
This is me in 2017 with my sorority jersey. My sorority jersey has my nickname, Dumpling, and my member number, 698.

Why do Littles give bigs paddles?

It’s tradition! But there’s no clear history of when this tradition started.

Back in the day, when hazing was more common in sororities and fraternities, paddles would be used as a tool to haze or control new members.

But luckily, times have changed and hazing is highly discouraged, and now paddles are used decoratively and as a memory keepsake for sorority bigs.

How do you decide how to decorate a sorority paddle?

The best part about sorority paddles is that they are blank canvases, meaning you can decorate or paint them anyway you want.

But if you are giving this paddle to your big, I would highly suggest customizing it to her likings.

Here are some suggestions on where to find design ideas:

  • Her favorite movie
  • Her favorite TV show
  • Her favorite artist or band
  • Her favorite alcoholic drink
  • Her favorite color
  • Photo collage of photos you’ve taken together

How do you paint sorority paddles?

If you are DIY-ing your own sorority paddle for your big, then you’ll most likely need the following items:

You can also add things to the paddle to give it personality and dimension like:

To learn how to DIY your own sorority paddle, you can watch videos on YouTube like the ones below:

And if you are not very crafty or don’t have time to paint a paddle for your big, then you can always get a custom sorority paddle made from someone on Etsy. Or sometimes you can find a sorority sister in your chapter who will help you make one too!

What do you put on a paddle?

Your sorority Education Vice President, or sorority sister with the equivalent position, will provide you guidelines (before the jersey-paddle swap event) of what text should be on the paddle.

My sorority chapter specifically had us put this information on our crescents/paddles:

  • Big’s name
  • Little’s name
  • Year you became Big and Little (your pledge class year)
  • Sorority crest
  • Chapter name
  • Sorority name

Your sorority may have similar guidelines, stricter, or even no guidelines at all.

You may also like: 7 Tips For Picking The Perfect Sorority Big Or Little

What do you put on the back of a sorority paddle?

You can always keep the back of the sorority paddle blank, but this is also a great place to write a sweet note to your sorority big.

You can let your big know how much she means to you, how much you have appreciated her guidance, and what you hope for her in the future. You can even add in an inside joke you two share.

Alternatively, you can add her favorite lyrics, a poem, or a motivational quote.

15+ trendy sorority paddle design ideas

1. Geode

This geode sorority paddle is to die for, it’s that pretty! The marble detail with the pink and gold detailing makes this one of the most simplistic, yet sophisticated sorority paddle designs for your big.

The creator of this paddle, Rachel, who owns The Patterned Paddle shop on Etsy is offering my readers a special 10% discount for their entire purchase from her shop. Enter in the coupon code JULIETSENTME at checkout.

2. Polaroid photographs

You’ve probably made a ton of memories with your sorority big over the last several months, and possibly, years. Why not add your favorite memories to your big’s sorority paddle? The simplicity of this paddle paired with the photos add such a personalized touch. If your big got this paddle, I bet she’d cry tears of joy!

3. Gold foil

Three sorority big little paddles
Photo credit @bunnybarnbyem on Instagram

Who doesn’t like a little pop of gold? This gold foil paddle takes a bland paddle to the next level and pairs well with the script front.

4. Palm tree

Palm trees are always in style. It makes a great girly, but easy pattern to paint onto your sorority big’s paddle. The bow on the handle is also great touch and could be added to any paddle you create for your big.

5. Cactus

If your sorority big loves cactus and succulents, then why not add it to her paddle? You can even add that cute saying, “you’re stuck with me,” on the back of the paddle.

6. Favorite adult drink

If your sorority will allow you to, a cute idea for a sorority paddle design is your big’s favorite alcoholic drink–whether is White Claws (as shown above), Truly, Malibu, or pink moscato.

7. Stripes

Black and white striped sorority paddle for big.
Photo credit The Patterned Paddle on Esty

Stripes, if done tastefully, can be an easy design to put on a sorority paddle. Then you can add photos, press on flowers, 3-D letters, or glitter to add some dimension and a personal touch.

8. Dog

Dog sorority big little paddle.
Photo credit The Patterned Paddle on Esty

Whether it is cats, dogs, or even fish, an animal design is a creative sorority paddle design idea. If you can’t draw to save your life (like me) you can try an animal print instead, like cheetah or leopard.

9. Natural wood

Who doesn’t love the aesthetic of natural wood? Paired with white cursive text, neutral colored flowers, and some pearls for a girly touch–you can create your big a trendy, yet timeless sorority paddle.

10. Dark wood

Dark wood sorority big little paddle.
Photo credit The Patterned Paddle on Esty

If your sorority big is a bit more edgy, why not do a dark stain on her paddle? This sorority paddle is chic, yet so simplistic with the geometric design and bold calligraphy text.

11. White and minimalistic

When in doubt, keep your sorority paddle design simple. By keeping it simple, you big will always have a timeless paddle from you that will match any of her room decor.

12. Southern prep

Southern prep sorority big little paddle
Photo credit @ev.gould on Instagram

If your sorority big is a huge southern prep girl, then a Lilly Pulitzer pattern is a surefire way to make her heart melt when she sees the sorority paddle you made for her.

13. Butterfly

Butterflies are rising in trend. You may have even seen them on t-shirts or maybe a sorority family used the concept “butterflies” as their Big Little Reveal Theme. Butterflies make a great sorority paddle design because they symbolize life and transformation.

14. Mason jar

If your Big loves the aesthetic of mason jars and the southern feel of them, then she’d LOVE this sorority paddle.

15. Tiffany & Co.

Does your sorority Big love a little bit of luxury in her life? If so, then this Tiffany & Co. paddle would make her feel so spoiled when she receives it from you.

16. Cow print

If your Big has some yeehaw in her then she’d love this cow print sorority paddle. It’s absolutely adorable and I bet your Big will hang it on her wall ASAP.

17. World map

World map sorority big little paddle
Photo credit The Patterned Paddle on Esty

This map sorority paddle can serve as a reminder to your big that no matter how far apart you end from each other, she will always be near and dear to your heart.

Concluding thoughts on sorority paddles

Creating and designing the perfect sorority paddle for your big can be quite a daunting task. Especially if you don’t even know where to start in regards to design.

In this blog post, I shared with you 15+ trendy sorority paddle design ideas that hopefully inspired and sparked the creativity you need to create the perfect paddle for your big.

But regardless of what design you go with, I know that your sorority big will love and appreciate it because it came from you!

And don’t forget, you can get your Big a custom sorority paddle for 10% off from The Patterned Paddle on Esty. Just enter the coupon code JULIETSENTME at checkout.

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A sorority big receiving her sorority paddle.

Thank you for reading about trendy sorority paddle design ideas.

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