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Basics for Prom committees

The Seventeen Prom Elements

Okay, so what are the basic elements that the prom committee or prom planning board need to deal with? Below, we've listed 17. Depending on your school, you will choose to handle them in one or another way. Some schools don't have prom planning committees, but instead let student government take care of things. Others have a prom committee with maybe four or five members, and these handle every detail. But then there are some prom committees who decide on a pull-all-the-stops prom and actually create a number of subcommittees to handle the many, many elements involved in coordinating the perfect, the massive, the utterly memorable prom. Right. So here's the list, and you can handle it your way. Some of these elements require a lot of explanation, and some require little explanation. We've arranged the top five in order of priority:

Where are you going to get your money? How much are you going to get? How's it going to be spent? This is the first, determining factor in any prom planning, because, until you know how much you've got or can get (approximately), you don't know how much you can spend. Get it?

Where's it going to be held? Click here for details, since this is one of the four most important elements in your planning.

DJ and band? DJ only? What, no music? No way. Also one of the four most important elements, so click here for details.

Photos-- another top priority element, not only because you want the prom pics to turn out right, but because you need to get your photographer while he's still available. Click here for more details.

Big brother is watching-- maybe. But also necessary because you never know what may be happening in the parking lot, or who's going to lose his cool that night (and maybe his dinner) and get rowdy-- and there's always a few that seem determined to ruin it for everybody (remember Carrie?). So, if you've rented a location that does not provide its own security, consider these: the local police force-- not a full riot squad, but off-duty cops, who would do it for their usual rate of pay. Or consider volunteer firefighters. Or a professional firm. It's best to check with your school board first concerning these things.

Fund Raising
Where are you going to get the money for all this? The school may award you a budget, and you may then have to match this budget with an equal contribution gained from your own slave labor. So here's some ideas for slave labor: car washes, cookie and other bake sales, rummage sales, school video sales; sponsorships from local companies-- not for the prom, but for a money making activity such as: a seniors day picnic, hosted by you, sponsored by McDonalds, with part of McDonalds' proceeds going to you-- that sort of thing: be creative: this is making money we're talking about! What else? Rake a lawn day for seniors (they pay you). Clean up Main Street day (the city pays you). And so on. Again, be creative!

Theme & Colors
Now that is strictly up to you. However, if you want some help, then click here to check out over three hundred themes submitted by teens from all over North America.

You have your theme. Now, what are you going to do to transform it from an idea into a physical reality? You need balloons, you need sets (well, maybe you don't have to go that far), you need colored lights, banners, and everything else that'll make your theme come alive. You can get the creative parts of your school to work on some of this-- wood shop, art class, etc. Or, you can see party supplies companies about it--and this will cost you (but it may be well worth it).

You need to give everyone something to take home as a keepsake. This could be anything (it used to be glassware like wine glasses & beer mugs), but you have to decide on it ahead of time because most often, these things have to be made, ordered, engraved, or whatever. For example: teddy bears with the prom date on them, key chains (tacky), engraved picture frames (passe), CDs with a multimedia presentation including the prom theme song, school videos and other bits of memorabilia.

What'll you have? This might depend on your theme, but it doesn't have to. Mostly, it will depend on the catering company's menu, since they will present you with their prom lists (or similar lists) and you will make your choice. They're usually pretty firm about what's on the list, but they will often let you make exceptions and add this or that tidbit-- so don't be afraid to ask.

What, don't you want to sell tickets, or what? You need to announce the date, and you need to announce the theme. Posters will work. School paper and website will work.

The program is nothing more and nothing less than the evening's events. But: someone-- you-- has to coordinate the events and schedule them. And someone-- again, you-- has to design the program papers so that these can be sent out for printing.

Design a cool ticket.
Fix the price on the ticket. How do you fix the price on the ticket? Like this: take your total expenses, minus the money you kicked in from fund raising, and divide that by the number of people expected to attend.
Oh yes, sell the tickets.

Post-Prom Party
Many schools have a post-prom party in the gym, or other school-grounds hall. Is yours having one? If so, you need to plan it.

Royal Court Selection
Mostly, you need to set up the voting system.

Set Up
Someone or someones need to set up for prom night: theme, decorations, distribution of things: where the court will be, the tables, the DJ, and son on. Get a floor plan early in the game, start blocking things out on it, decide ahead of time where every element of your décor is going to be.

Clean Up
Don't leave a mess behind. Someone needs to be on the clean-up crew. Even if you're holding prom at a fine hotel that takes care of all clean-up, you need someone there to make sure nothing's forgotten. Besides, you're bound to have tons of your own decorations, which you will want to take with you.


Okay then, so the above are the complete parts of planning your prom, and all of them need to be taken care of. You may add things to this list, but-- yes, that's right-- you can't subtract anything from it... well, except for maybe the post-prom party, and maybe the menu. But a note on the menu: true, some proms do not include dinner; but they do include some kind of appetizers, and they certainly include beverages-- so, you can consider that a menu after all.

Happy prom planning!

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