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Prom 2008

Most of the work is actually being done right now for this year's prom - even as preparations get under way for next year's prom!

Start Planning Early!

 

Prom 2009

It is February now and preparations for prom are well underway. We have chosen a Prom Location: the local polo grounds - and the Prom Theme: "Old Hollywood".

We still are working on the overall "look" of the prom, and are studying pictures, window shopping, and of course check out the Prom Promotions at the various stores to see what they offer: "Nordstrom Prom Guide. Check out our featured looks and get styling tips." OK, I will check out their featured looks...

April 2009

I have been so busy that I haven't been updating our progress as I should be. We have about one more month to go before prom. We have cut many items out of our budget because, given the economic climate, they just seemed unnecessary.

For example, gone are the party buses we had planned to bring the kids to and from the prom. Instead, we will use the school vehicles, with school staff as drivers. This alone saved us about $2,300. We also don't have to worry about finding chaperones for the bus ride.

We also eliminated the photo booth - instead we will buy 10 or so disposable cameras and place them on the tables for the kids to take candid shots with.

In addition, we are looking for a videographer to shoot some video at the prom, perhaps do some impromptu interviews with the kids. Then, we will make a DVD out of the footage and give it to the seniors as a memento of the evening.

SURVEY OF THE DECADES - CHILDREN & FAMILY 2000s:

 The Prom Mom

When I went to my high school prom back in the 1980s, I never gave a thought as to who went to all the trouble of organizing and paying for our lovely dance. My main concern was my dress, and which pre-dance and post dance parties to attend.

Now, as the mother of two high-school age children, I was recruited by the Moms Organization (technically, it is a "parents' organization...but you know how that goes!) to be on the "Prom Committee". I happily accepted, even though my oldest is only a sophomore, because after my experience on the "Winter Dance Committee", I realized what a major undertaking pulling off a successful event is!

If I am going to be a real help when it is my kids' turn, I figured, I better get my feet wet now.

1953 Comic Strip Freckles And His Friends by Merrill Blosser - Setting Up Prom Decorations - Panel 1

1953 Comic Strip Freckles And His Friends by Merrill Blosser - Setting Up Prom Decorations - Panel 2
1953 Source: NewspaperArchive.com

Organizing the Prom - Task List

  1. Reserve a location - We are now starting to plan the prom for the Class of 2009. The first item on the task list is to decide on a location to have the prom. The good locations get taken early, so it is important to start early! Proms can be a little tricky because the kids don't drink alcohol, which is how most establishments make their money, so they often charge a large fee to make up for this. One local nightclub wanted $25,000 - which is a budget buster!

    Here is what we need to consider in choosing a prom location:

    1. Size - the establishment must be large enough to accommodate the party. Our class is small so we only have to plan for 80 - 85 guests.
    2. Location  - We would like a beautiful location, something special to commemorate all of the hard work the kids have put in over the years.
    3. Cost - Obviously the cost has to fit our budget - which is about $20,000 for the entire event!
    4. Time Restrictions - Many venues have limits on the duration of the party, or have an early closing hour. We need a location where we can stay at least until midnight.

    Our choice for a location is the old-fashioned club house at the polo grounds. It has one large (but not too large) room where we can serve dinner, and a large terrace for the band and dancing which overlooks one of the polo fields.

    Inside the Club House at the Polo Grounds - Dinner will be served here at the prom.

  2. Left: Inside the Club House at the Polo Grounds - Dinner will be served here at the prom. It will look quite different on prom night - we will transform it into a scene out of the glamorous days of Old Hollywood.

    Below: The tables are set - the room transformed.

    Prom Venue Decorated - Tables are set and look gorgeous.

    Practise Polo Game To Warm Up The Horses For The Polo Season

    Right: A practice polo game in session - adds ambience and glamour to our prom setting without costing us a penny extra!


     
     
     
  3. Book The Band I can't emphasize enough how important getting the right band or DJ will be to the overall success or failure of your event. Whoever you choose for the occasion, you will need to book them at the beginning of the year. Good bands are booked well in advance - as are good DJs.

    Here are some guidelines to follow when choosing the band or DJ.

    • Hire Professionals - whether a live band or DJ, you want people who do this regularly and often - for money. They know which songs will make everybody run to the dance floor, put their hands in the air and boogie. If you are going with a live band - make sure they can cover the popular songs of the day - and that they come with a DJ to spin during the breaks. Our band cost us $5,000 and was worth every penny. The kids were on the dance floor all night - from the first song to the last! When kids are dancing, they are not drinking or getting stoned in the bathrooms, or sneaking off to do same or worse.
    • Avoid Genre Music - The class the year before us hired a reggae band - I chaperoned that year and I can tell you the only time that dance floor saw any action was when the band was on a break and the DJ took over. I assume the students liked reggae because they hired a reggae band - but they forgot to consider the nature of the event - it tends to be high-energy and marks the end of an era for the students. The kids - whether they know it or not - want the music that has accompanied them on their journey thus far in life - this will be a nostalgic evening for them because they will be saying goodbye to childhood and high school for good. They will want music to share with each other - even if means that sappy song on the radio that has been overplayed x 10. Stick with a good selection of mainstream dance music, crossovers, and then you can mix in the popular rock/punk/grunge/reggae/rap etc. songs. And Abba. Don't forget dancing queen.

 

The Prom Committees

The first step in planning a successful prom is to realize that it is no small task and is probably too much for just one or two people to handle. To solve this problem and to keep ourselves from being worked to death, we created committees to handle various tasks.

Committees in Reality

Breaking down the tasks involved in putting together a high school prom is a helpful way to organize your efforts. This doesn't mean you "prom by committee", however; you should have one person in charge - two at the most - who can keep track of the overall progress.

Core Prom Planners:

Most of the initial planning and preparations were done well in advance by a group of 3 of us. We met with girls from the senior class to decide on the theme of the prom, and get an idea of what the overall "likes and dislikes" of the senior class were. This can vary drastically from year to year - each graduating class has their own temperament and ideas of what is cool and not cool.

Ignore this at your own peril.

The last thing you want to do is put on a prom that is deemed "Lame" by the students. Listen carefully to what students have to say about food, decorations and music. Especially music. The wrong band or DJ and you have a flop.

Fundraising Starts in September

The one committee you want to form early is the fundraising committee. If you don't raise extra money to spend on your prom, you will either have sky-high ticket prices or a dinky little prom. Start raising money before you even have a budget - you can always use extra money to lower the ticket price to the students or make free tickets available to students who might not attend because of the cost. Everybody should be able to attend their senior prom - it is an American right of passage!

Your biggest expenses will be the food/venue and the band.

Form Other Committees In January

By this I mean write a few lists of names, getting people to commit to helping out in a particular area. This will give you an idea of any hidden resources and talents amongst the party planners. For example, somebody owns a catering company, is a florist, works in theater, owns a restaurant in town, is extremely rich and loves to pay for senior proms - you get the idea.

Using your resources will save you money (don't expect the florist family to provide flowers for free - but chances are they will offer you a discount), and most likely will produce a better result because they are personally invested.

One of our "Prom Moms" was a Broadway dancer in a former life, and leads a dance troupe now - so she came up with the artistic vision of the evening and also had a closet full of costumes and props which we gratefully put to use.

Activate Committees 6 - 8 weeks before your event!

Up until about 2 months before your prom, most of the work is budgeting, planning and fundraising.


 
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