Prom marks an important stage in the lives of American teens, and is becoming increasingly significant in the UK as well. Parents tend to wince at the thought of how much they’ll be asked to pay for the outfit and all the other sundry expenses that your son or daughter is demanding. Fortunately, you can avoid blowing the bank, and your offspring will still have an amazing time. Here’s how:
Set a strict budget
Setting a budget is possibly the best way of saving. Costs are very likely to soar out of control if you don’t impose a limit – and stick to it! This is also a very valuable life lesson for your child, as they’ll have to decide what they want most, and shop around to get the best deals. If your offspring really has their heart set on arriving in a vintage vehicle, for example, they’ll have to economise elsewhere and buy a second-hand dress. There are some amazing prom car hire ideas, and they’ll probably remember arriving in style long after they’ve forgotten what dress they wore.
Nobody will know that the dress is second-hand. They really won’t. There are some amazing dresses available in charity shops and resale shops. Even a dated dress can be turned into something more contemporary; get it altered by a professional, and you will still pay less than many new dresses. You can also shop online, but a word of caution is definitely called for here. Avoid cheap outlets, as the dresses will most likely be cheaply made, look nothing like the image, and mean you have to rush around looking for a replacement (and end up spending far more than you want to). If you do shop online, use a reputable website and allow enough time to buy an alternative dress if necessary. For boys: hire a suit or borrow one. A tux isn’t really necessary, although there’s no reason not to choose wear one.
Do hair and makeup at home
Parents with sons are at an advantage here! One of the reasons that prom expenses often get out of hand is that girls want to have their hair done, have a facial, get their nails done, have a professional makeup artist … which would be fine if they were spending their own money! But none of these things are really necessary. There are tons of YouTube tutorials that will show you how to do your hair for special occasions. The important thing is to practise before prom night. Leave it until the last minute to try a new style out, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to go wrong!
Don’t be guilt-tripped into buying all the extras like a photography package. Your kids will just end up taking pictures on their mobile phones anyway. Girls don’t need expensive jewellery either, when stores have gorgeous costume pieces at low prices, and shoes won’t be seen under a long dress. Charity shops are also worth browsing for jewellery.
Most British parents take a sensible approach, and don’t try to compete with each other. However, there is a small minority who seem to be intent on outdoing everyone else, by hiring helicopters (it has happened) and cars worth a small fortune. While most people won’t go to those lengths, it is easy to get caught up in the desire to give your child the chance to show off, or worrying that if you don’t buy that expensive dress they’ll be laughed at. Keep a sense of perspective. It’s just one night, after all.