Top 10 Tips for Planning Prom on a Budget

Your prom committee has been tasked with planning the ball on a budget. So how do you organize and decorate a dance in a way that’s affordable yet has that "wow factor"? Prom doesn’t have to cost big dollars. Follow these 10 tips to cut cost, not class.

1. Create a spreadsheet to track purchases

You know that girl who’s killin’ it in your accounting class, or that guy who knows everything about Excel? Ask ‘em to join the prom planning committee to help manage the budget! Track receipts and always know how much money is left. You could also look at last year’s numbers to compare as you go.

2. Plan a fundraiser or ask for sponsors

Your school does fundraisers for athletics, trips and clubs, so why not for prom? Sell spirit gear, candy bars or baked goods. Host an event to score some cash, like a car wash, auction or spaghetti dinner. Advertise with a banner. Another option could be asking for sponsors and then giving the donating companies ad space in your gym or stadium using a banner.

3. Host prom in your school gym

This saves big time on event rental costs. Don’t worry--decorations can make all the difference. Use fabric to cover ceilings and walls; embellish with affordable paper lanterns and string lights; finish with large props such as columns, lamp posts and arches. For a fast way to bring in your theme, purchase a complete kit!

4. Buy reusable supplies

Sure, it may not help the budget quite as much this year, but make an investment in pieces that can be used for many more proms to come. Think about getting fabric tablecloths, glass vases, flameless candles, arches and columns.

5. Purchase in bulk

A lot of items you’ll need can be bought in sets to help you save. Buy your food, favors and tableware in quantities as large as possible. When making such big bulk purchases, the cost per item usually goes down.

6. Think of items that are functional, yet make great favors

A perfect example would be glass drinkware with your school name, prom theme and date. Another option would be to decorate tables with items that could be taken home as favors, such as glass candle holders and candles or photo cubes.

7. Ask a fellow student to DJ

Is there a kid in class who’s never without a set of headphones? Or, is there someone who volunteers to help with sound and lights at the school play? Ask if they’d like to DJ! You’d be surprised what can be done with a phone/laptop and some borrowed speakers!

8. Fill empty space with budget-friendly decorations

Gossamer and balloons are the perfect way to go for filling in those gaps or areas of your venue that need a little something. These items are available in a variety of colors, patterns and styles that are light on your wallet.

9. Look around for independent photographers

Schools often use a photography company for prom photos, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can still find quality photography for a fraction of the cost. Check Facebook for shutterbugs in your area, or see if an underclassman would be interested.

10. Check to see what items are included with the venue, or what items you may already have at school

If you decide to host prom off site at a banquet hall or event center, ask what is covered in the cost. You may be surprised! Many places will include tables and chairs, linens, sound equipment, and more. If you’re having the event at school, check with the theater department for backdrops, lights, sound equipment, etc.