$10 Prom

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Every August we gather our high school small groups with a fall kick-off party. This year that party was a $10 prom. Now, it should be said before any more words are written, that no money changed hands at this event. There was no entrance fee or ticket. Students simply had to show up and dress up. And their outfit could not exceed $10.

This idea was birthed, perhaps not surprisingly, inside of a thrift store. Two months before $10 prom I was sorting stacks of clothing donations with a group of Freshmen and Sophomore girls. In gratitude for our service hours the ladies that ran this particular thrift store said if we found something (or several things) in the bags of donations, we could keep it. It wasn’t long before my dear girls and I were dressed to the nines in finery not seen since the mid 70‘s. “But where can we wear this in real life?” the girls asked. $10 prom was the answer to that question.

A $10 prom needs four things to be a success:

  1.     A host.

Our $10 prom was in the driveway and front yard of one of our student’s homes. I provided a tiny budget from our church, and arranged for table and chair delivery, and this student’s mom and her friends did the rest. In our specific case, the host was responsible for taking pictures, hanging Christmas lights, making lemonade, welcoming a teenager invasion, and dressing up themselves.

  1.     Music.

In our case this was an ipod, some speakers, and a pre-approved playlist. (To be pre-approved it had to be sex, abuse and profanity free. This narrows dance music options significantly, so start early.) Our playlist included all genres of music, including line dances.

  1.     Food

Food is a must. I bought BBQ from Sam’s, and our host put it in a crock pot the night before. BBQ at prom is a flawless idea, as it is such a delicate food. We also had fluorescent popsicles for the same reason.

  1.     Buy-in.

I’m not at all sure $10 prom would have worked if the adults didn’t enthusiastically dress up. Additionally, if two grades of girls hadn’t already bought into the idea while sorting clothes, it may have been a hard sell. In my experience, students are only willing to make fools of themselves in public if they are certain everyone else will be too.

In your own $10 prom, lead the charge. Create a pre-prom thrift store day, and purchase your own outfit there in front of your students. The point of thrift store day is to make it socially acceptable to wear outfits you wouldn’t be caught dead in other times. Thrift day makes prom day safe.

(Plus, as an added bonus, you may see one of your old prom dresses there. A prom dress you wore in all seriousness years before. You will watch your girls wear it, laugh at it, buy it as their gag outfit, and reflect on the passage of time.)

If you have these four things, $10 Prom will not fail you.

Image attribution: Willrow_Hood / Thinkstock

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Rebekah got her start in youth ministry at Christ Church in Montevideo, Uruguay and is now the Minister of Youth Discipleship at First United Methodist Church in Tulsa, OK. She earned her B.S. in Organizational Management and Ethics from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Rebekah is married to her soulmate, Philippe. Together they like to drink mate, play soccer with their dogs, and dream of traveling the world. Rebekah has read Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy six times.

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