Prom Checklist and Tips for Teens and Parents

I wore a burgundy, floor-length halter dress, gold dangle earrings, and jasmine perfume. My date sported a black tux with silver cuff links and a white shirt. On my wrist a white corsage, my hair in a loose chignon. We had 8 pm dinner reservations at Linq, I ordered the blood orange and beet salad.

My prom was six years ago almost to the day and I remember everything. Prom is a big deal. At the time, I did not think it would be, but those memories are very strong (maybe even more so than graduation day). So, I have a few tips for parents who have juniors and seniors getting ready for their big night and want to make it special and safe.

1) Let Them Work Out a Plan—But Make Sure They Actually Have a Plan

Teens are such procrastinators when it comes to corsages, limos, tickets and after-parties. The key here is to let your kids plan it independently so they feel like it is their night, but just make sure they do it early enough and have thought about all the details. This works really well in a list format. Instead of nagging them about it, I would just tell them you saw this list on a website for teens planning proms (a little white lie never hurt anyone) and thought it might help them and leave it on their desk or bulletin board:

1 Month Before:

_____Ask a date

_____Buy tickets to prom

_____Discuss curfews, rules, locations with parents

_____(If allowed, buy tickets to after prom)

_____(Get a group of people together for dinner reservations and/or transportation)

_____Find a meeting house where individuals can meet and/or get ready together

_____Pick a restaurant for dinner

_____Make dinner reservations

_____Transportation to Dinner (limo, taxi, who’s driving?)

_____Transportation from Dinner to Prom (limo, taxi, who’s driving?)

_____Transportation from Prom to after party/home/friends house/hotel

_____(Transportation from after party/home/friends house/hotel to final destination)

_____Order a tux, order corsages, order boutonniere, pick a dress, book hair/make-up appointment. (Get haircut, get nails done, get hair done,etc.)

1 Week Before:

_____Get camera, plan picture package for the night

Day Before:

_____confirm all group members, appointments and reservations, get confirmation numbers.

Day Of:

_____Have fun at prom!

Day After:

_____ Call or email your date and thank them;make sure money and payments were properly divided, share pictures.

2) Discuss Rules

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is waiting to see if something is inappropriate and then addressing it. Here is what happens:

Son: Mom, we are going to get a room at the Standard afterwards

Mom: Absolutely not, I do not want you getting a hotel, you can come here or go to a friends house I know.

Son: Are you kidding me?! We already made the reservation and put in our money, if you do not let me, my date wont want to go and I wont be able to hang out with my friends

So, before any of the planning happens, lay out all the rules first.

3) Make Sure You Know What the School Says

Sometimes the school has rules and times that are very different from what your child tells you. Make sure you get the real story from the school. Sometimes schools close the dance doors at a certain time and many kids like to come late. Make sure your kids will have enough time for pictures and dinner to make it into the dance before doors close.

4) Get Together With Other Parents

Talk to other parents of dates and fellow limo partners. Make sure everyone has the same story and information and you have their numbers on actual prom night just in case.

5) Let Them Have Fun

Show them you trust them (e.g. do not offer to volunteer at the dance) and let them have fun! It can be a great memory for kids and parents—and the pictures will be priceless!

What other preparations, conversations, insights and inspirations are you having as your high schooler heads out to prom? Let us know your great ideas!

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