1. Get started early – It is best to start planning at the beginning of the school year but definitely no later than the beginning of second semester. Generate some excitement with an add campaign by putting up posters around the school with a clever attention getter like a single word. Each day add a word until you finish your announcement! Example: Day 1 ) Will 2) you 3) help 4) us 5) plan? Prom Planning Committee Forming Now. (Note: you will use this tactic again later on in the planning process).
2. Choose the date – It is important that you have a prom sponsor/s to help you with this. Check the school calendar and inquire about local events that may interfere such as city events or other school proms. If you do some legwork here you will save yourself some time when looking for a venue.
3. Set a budget – Do some research for basic costs that you know you will incur and items you believe are optional. Venue, tickets, DJ, drinks, and decor would be necessary expenses. Food, photographer, photo booth, and favors are examples of optional items that you may want to factor in.
4. Book the venue – Venues can be booked up more than a year in advance so it is a good idea to get a good jump on this. If you start planning early, you will be able to have first choice over other schools that may end up having prom the same night as yours. Venues generally require a deposit but also work with prom committees knowing their limitations. *Tip: Ask your venue contact to pencil you in for a date and to call if someone else wants to book for that date. This will buy you some planning time.
5. Choose a theme – Make it big but not too big. Big ideas often fall flat without planning and execution. Think about the tickets, favors, decor, food, and entertainment that will go along with a theme before choosing it.
6. Divide into sub-committees – Each committee member will have different talents and different abilities. Use these to your advantage by allowing each member to select which committees would suit them best. Here are some ideas: 1) fundraising and favors 2) food and beverage 3) entertainment 4) advertising, tickets, and decorating. *Tip: Every high school girl wants to be on the decorating committee and this doesn’t need to be done until the day of so lump a few committees into one so that they will be able contribute before prom day. Every committee member should have the responsibility of selling tickets. A large group spreading the word will make a larger impact.
7. Get organized – Use apps like Plan’It Prom and SignUpGenius and private Facebook groups to assist in budgeting and planning the perfect prom.
8. Start Fundraising – Car washes are probably the most common fundraising idea and they do make money but there are other ideas as well. You could sell t-shirts, Valentine grams, or even host a talent show.
9. Get Sponsorships – Have your prom sponsor help you to write a sponsorship letter for local businesses. Businesses often donate $25, $50, or even $100 to have their business names printed on prom t-shirts, favors, or a sign at the event.
10. Order Mementos/favors – Find prom favors online from companies like Stumps. Remember, you need to choose favors that everyone will want to buy. You want to be able to make money off of these so don’t choose something too expensive.
11. Choose a DJ – It is very important to find a reputable DJ that has been around for awhile. Don’t book your cousin’s ex-boyfriend’s friend because you heard he really knows music. You want to make sure your DJ shows up and shows off at your prom!
12. Capture the moment – Senior prom only happens once so make sure you have a professional photographer and/or photo booth company there to capture all of the memorable moments. These special photos will bring a smile to your face for years to come. When hiring a photographer, ask for their portfolio and references. Just because a person has a nice camera doesn’t mean they take professional photos. Photo booths can be used for capturing guests’ photos as they enter the room and/or for entertainment purposes. Ask your local photo booth company about fun props and signs that may coincide with your theme.
13. Select a caterer – Drinks are a must. You don’t want your guests getting dehydrated from all that dancing! If you are planning to have hors d’oeuvres available for guests you need to pick a professional caterer. Most caterers will host a taste testing to help you decide what food choices will work best for your event. You can even have cute labels with names for the dishes that go along with your prom’s theme.
14. Announce Ticket Sales – As we discussed in planning tip #1, a great tactic to use to get students engaged is to place posters throughout the school with the announcement but only start with a single word like “Will”. Each day add a word until you finish your announcement! Example: Day 1 ) Will 2) you 3) go 4) to 5) prom? Tickets on sale now! Make this announcement on your school news, social media, and any other outlets you have available.
15. Create a Facebook page – Create a Facebook event where you will invite students and release planning updates to keep students excited about their prom!
16. Create a hashtag – #HighSchoolProm – Hashtags are all the rage right now!! By creating a personalized hashtag prom goers can post their pictures to social media for everyone to see and share. Talk about an awesome scrapbook that everyone will be able to view for years to come.