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How Much is Prom Worth?

With the recession that we are facing, should parents cut back on prom expenses? Our Moms Council chimes in.

Do you remember your senior prom? The restaurant where you had dinner, the anticipation that he would ask you to be his date/or she would agree to be your date and the dance? What about the after-party?

We all have our memories of prom, but do you have any idea how much money your parents may have spent on all things that came with making your prom perfect?

Prom is just around the corner for our local high schools, and this week we asked our Moms Council the following question: With the recession, do you think all the costs associated with the dance are appropriate? (i.e. limo, dinner, prom tickets, clothes, hair, makeup, flowers, etc.)

Shelly: I feel that prom has always been a costly event. The dress alone for the girls can make any mothers stomach turn..its like the cost of a brides maid dress. Lets not forget the tickets! What are they serving caviar and champagne? Now lets look at the cost of food and flowers. All I can say is that the young man better be saving up.

I understand the excitement of prom. But I also know it's tough right now for many families to do the "extras." I think parents should encourage their kids to think outside the box and be creative with prom. Instead of going to a restaurant, gather your friends and do a nice picnic dinner on the lawn at the beach in La Jolla. Better yet, have the parents get together and open their homes for a beautiful candlelight dinner. Forget the limo. Borrow a nice car or Suburban and pitch in for gas. Instead of going to a high priced salon for hair & makeup, go to a  beauty school for an amazing up-do, for half the price.

Prom is and will continue to be a lasting memory for many. But I do feel that the cost associated with the dance is very inappropriate. I think our society has allowed it to spiral out of control as far as cost goes. 

Kristine: The costs for school-related events are completely out of hand! Like so many things in society today, we put way too much emphasis on the wrong things. If you're going to prom, you're still in high school which, to me, means prom should be about having fun, picking a date you know will enjoy the evening, looking cute and celebrating the end of the school year. 

The amount of money you spend doesn't need to be proportionate to the amount of fun you have. It's up to the parents to educate their kids that about this.  Don't get me wrong – I'm completely aware there are some costs associated with prom, but why go over the top? Does a teenager need a $1,000 dress? Is $250 for hair and makeup exorbitant? Will anyone notice the money spent on fake eye lashes? A kid can have fun on far less money spent. The memories start when girlfriends get together and do their own hair and makeup. Even if the beauty session doesn't go as planned, there's always a fun story behind it.  Prom should always be about fun, not about spending money.

Suzanne: The expense of prom is prohibitive, nay obscene.

Once again, family dynamics rule.  Kids should know early on that expenses such as volleyball, tap lessons, and prom are not obligatory; they are choices, if the family budget allows.  Of course by the time, the senior year is reached, the child may have a job enabling foolish, obscene, or prohibitive expenditures.

However,  creativity is the key here.  As a classroom teacher, I once loaned a senior boy two full place settings of my personal china and crystal, so he could serve a proper dinner for his date – prepared by his chef father. Yes, dad was a chef in real life.  Other students that year, surveyed parent automobiles and found classy vehicles and willing dads who would act as properly attired chauffeurs.  My husband was the waiter who served an elegant takeout meal on our home's  flat roof at sunset, to our daughter and her prom date.  Yes, he put on a narrow black tie, white shirt, and carefully climbed a ladder to the roof, all while balancing a tray holding first hors d'oeurves, and then dinner, and later, dessert.

 While boys still have to rent the obligatory tuxedo (think about buying a used one now), girls can successfully have a mini fashion show at one girl's home, with everyone bringing over exquisite dresses from Junior Prom, Winter Ball and formal dresses required for Concert Band and show clubs.  Exchange dresses for free. Your folks  will be thrilled, your date will never know, and you will look smashing.  Speaking of smashing, skip the expensive pictures at the prom.  Have a skilled photography student, or parent shoot the pictures at a local scenic landscape.  Yep, hundreds of seniors, dates and families, and cameras, converge at these places each year, for the ritual shots. Yet another way to keep prom prices reasonable.  Have fun and stay sober.

Irene Smith April 28, 2011 at 03:34 PM
I agree the costs have gone through the roof. My husband has classic cars one of which is a red 1963 Galaxie convertible, and he has been the chaffuer in that for proms and weddings several times. Our children are grown and this is for other people's children. They see the car, find out who it belongs to, call and ask and he loves doing it. Any chance to show off his car which he restored himself. So the car doesn't even have to belong to someone you know.

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