Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Prom for Pennies

A bit of hyperbole in that title, but having reared four daughters to adulthood and now coming down the home stretch with daughter #5, I'm here to say that senior proms are among my least favorite graduation events.

Everything about a prom costs money, big money.

This year, I'm in no mood to spend it.

The first piece of good news is that my daughter's school does not charge for prom tickets. But tickets to the dance are just one of many prom expenses--there's still the dress, nails, make-up, hair, shoes, dinner and transportation.

My daughter's first choice of dress was a lovely rose-pink sheath that costs a mere $300. That was about $250 over my personal budget for a dress that would be worn just one time. VERY reluctantly, my daughter agreed to check out high-end resale shops. We trudged all over town last week-end to no avail. But two nights ago, we decided to try plus-size thrift shop (my daughter wears a size 16). Lo and behold, there was the perfect sphagetti strapped light blue gown that looked wonderful on her, and the price was $39. We stopped off at K-mart to buy a pair of white flat, back-strapped flipflops on sale for $7.

The kids wanted a limo to cart them around from restaurant to dance (with numerous stops in between to show off). On an individual basis, the cost would have been prohibitive, but by sharing with nine other prom-goers, the cost was $79.

Make-up could be done at Nordstrom's for $50, but my daughter checked with our neighbor, an esthetician at a local spa, to see if she'd be interested in helping out. Indeed she would. In fact, she agreed to do both make-up and hair for each girl for $25 each.

I asked about pictures, but all of these kids have digital cameras and none of them felt the need for expensive "official" pictures.

And finally, the pre-prom dinner? One of the young men's parents who run a catering service offered to cater a formal dinner for all five couples at their a very nice home at no cost.

So, my total prom expenditure was$150. Pretty good, when the average expenditure in North Dakota (North Dakota for Pete's sake!! Let's not even think about the west coast!!) is at least $300.

If $150 doesn't sound cheap to you, you don't have daughters in high school!


Sharon said...

That's great! We did one step cheaper for the prom, my husband dressed up in a suit and became my daughter's group "chauffeur". The cost was simply gas money (which was a lot cheaper last year than this year!)

Living Almost Large said...

Good job on keeping it cheap.

Anonymous said...

Nicely done. I remember shopping in thrift stores for a prom dress, doing my own makeup and having a friend and my mom do my hair. At the time I guess I would have liked it if my parents had just pulled out the credit card and paid for whatever I wanted, but it was just one more lesson in frugality that I'm so grateful for 15 years down the road.