If we could add another season to our mild-weathered coast, it might be “prom season.” It begins in January with the first signs of winter formals…a season in which high school girls begin dreaming of the perfect date, and spending countless hours shopping for formal dresses. Conversely, prom season may not register on the radar of high school boys…until the event is within throwing distance away, or, until an invitation to attend is cleverly delivered in a pizza box. To help parents gear up for prom season, Coast Kids gathered tips from parents and recent high school graduates.
There is no shortage of great stores in the OC where you can find the dress of your teen’s dreams. However, if you are looking for a way to spend less than a small fortune outfitting your daughter for the dance, may we suggest…
[Host a pre-prom dress-swap and prep party] Invite your daughters’ BFFs to your house for a soiree where they can exchange or share dresses and shoes. Your daughter also can borrow from girlfriends who attend different high schools, or consider organizing a dress-swap for her entire high school. Then, the evening of the event, host a pre-prom hairstyling and makeup party. The girls can have fun getting ready together, helping each other with hair, makeup and nails – and saving an expensive salon trip!
[Shop early – and often] Be sure to check out the consignment stores throughout Orange County. You may find that vintage look or a classic dress that can be customized with some bling or a statement piece of jewelry. Some of the money saved can be used toward alterations for that perfect fit.
[Rent a dress] Check with local bridal shops, who often rent party dresses. Or, if you want to make a day of it, drive to LA (405 at Santa Monica Blvd), where you can find a large selection of rentals at One Night Affair, by appointment only 310.474.7808.
[Online on a dime] Don’t forget eBay and Craigslist, where designer dresses can be found for a fraction of the retail price. Department stores such as Macy’s and Nordstrom’s online stores often have a large selection. At the time of this writing, Nordstrom.com had dresses for as low as $20.90 in their Juniors section.
[Project Prom-way] If your daughter sews her own dress, she can enter Jo-Ann Fabrics’ Own Your Look prom contest to win $50,000 in college money and a $1,000 Jo-Ann’s gift card. Joann.com/prom
[Shoes and Jewels] When it comes to shoes, many girls only wear their fancy footwear for photos, bringing a pair of flip-flops or ballet flats to change into for dancing. Remember this when deciding how much you want to spend on shoes! For jewelry, we recommend raiding Granny’s jewelry box. After all, vintage is in. Just be sure it has a properly fitting clasp, and is not a valuable family heirloom before borrowing it.
[Just for Boys] Have your son order a corsage for his date in go-with-everything white, or in a color that coordinates precisely with her dress. Floral departments in the local grocery stores are a cost effective resource. And, have him order his tux early if possible, as it’s a busy time of year for the local rental shops. If he wants to add some flair to his finery, he can make a statement with a pair of colorful Converse shoes.
[Dinner] Gone are the days when OC kids went to good old Bobby McGee’s on PCH for dinner. Save your dining dollars for a special dinner out for the grown-ups and, instead, consider co-hosting a pre-prom dinner at your home with the help of the other parents from your teenager’s group. Parents can mingle, snap photos to their hearts’ content and, for a fun twist, can even function as the servers for the evening.
[Transportation] If you will be renting a limousine or bus for your teen, know who will be in the vehicle, and have the cell phone number of at least one of the other teens – as well as their parents. Also, be sure the limo company is properly licensed and insured (check cpuc.ca.gov), does not overload the vehicle, and that you and the driver are clear about the rules for the teens. Understand the price, deposit, hourly minimums, gratuity, cancellation policies, pick-up and drop-off times, and any other agreements. Minors are not allowed to drink in limousines, so be sure you discuss this with the teens and the driver, and be sure the wet bar does not contain alcohol. Lastly, understand the liability you are taking on if you pay for the limousine with your credit card. Know whether you need to add a rider to your insurance.
[After-parties] After the last song is spun by the DJ (or even before), some students don’t head home, but instead make their way to a prom after-party. Wasn’t it our folks who said “nothing good ever happens after midnight?” Along those lines, you may want to consider an earlier curfew for your teen, or perhaps hosting an alternative after-party that you supervise. Some ideas:
Have your teen, her friends and their dates bring a change of clothes and go bowling or indoor go-cart racing after the dance.
Host the high school garage band for a late night gig, pizza and ice cream bar. Be sure to notify the neighbors ahead of time!
Plan your teen group’s dinner for after the dance, either at a home or a restaurant.