Senior Prom. A collection of the passions of youth, awkward memories, nostalgia, inaptly placed disco balls, weirdly themed pictures, and at least some form of dancing. It doesn't take a cultural historian to know the basics of how the most iconic night of American youth has changed over the decades, and love it or hate it, it remains a milestone in many a teen's coming of age. Now, we could take a 'if it ain't broke – don't fix it' approach to this timeless tradition, but honestly, what can be done TODAY to make prom even more fun and memorable?
Unfortunately, most schools don't have an answer for the many teens to whom a loud, peer-pressure-filled, club-like environment doesn't appeal. And these schools pay for it with lack of attendance. What of the introvert who would prefer haunting the punch table to asking a girl for a dance? Or those who would simply prefer not dancing? I present to you, for your party-planning pleasure, three things that will make prom fun again:
1. An Open Format Photo Booth
As a growing trend at proms, open photo booths are a smart party investment. Teens love taking group photos, lots of photos, and silly photos. Unfortunately, those aren't options with the typical prom photographer, though I would recommend you continue to get the professional, themed, and beautifully awkward prom photos to frame and keep for all time. Open photo booths, however, do offer the group dynamic, the silliness, the props, and the spontaneity teens love.
With easy-to-use touch screens that allow you to preview what you look like LIVE, photo booths are a dream come true for the selfie generation. When you throw in some hilarious props (unicorn head anyone?), the students' creativity, and unlimited sessions for everyone, you've got a recipe for prom-success and a ton of great pictures to remember your day by.
2. A Glowing Ping Pong Table
I thought I was dreaming when I stumbled over National Event Pros LED table games, but they are real and WOW do they look good. Even if foosball, shuffleboard and ping-pong aren't your forte, you just need to look at these beautiful setups and it's undeniable they'll help set an all-inclusive mood that will entice even the most timid teen. Just LOOK at this thing!
The immediate upside of these types of games is that they work and look great in the low-light environment of a dance. With this, and an open photo booth, your prom is starting to look like a real (and a fun) 21st century party! In between dancing up a storm and sucking down another glass of punch, you and your date (or you and your other dateless friends) can have a foosball throw-down or a glow-in-the-dark style shuffleboard tournament.
3. A Cool Lounge Area.
With this last bit, your prom is REALLY starting to look like a party. How about a designated area that is slightly isolated from the noise and populated by couches, bean bag chairs, board games, and maybe even some video game console setups? There are ways to do this without being totally segregated from the action, like with a noise-deflecting plexiglas wall. Here, students can kick back, chat, and just relax, away from the noise and pressure of the dance floor. You could include a complimentary soda/coffee bar to charge kids up or chill them out. And nothing takes the tension out of a room like a big soft bean bag chair to flop into.
Now, the first thing an event planner (or in this case, the school) is going to notice about these ideas is cost. However, the real problem many schools are facing when it comes to prom isn't money-- it's attendance. How do schools make prom enticing enough to draw everyone (meaning all demographics and personalities) to their event?
As it turns out, most students want to (and their parents want them to) attend prom, and they will happily pay for a ticket to make a memory! Looking back, if my school in the Pacific Northwest had offered the above mentioned options, the whole event would have been more attractive and worth the money. Sadly, schools limit their attendance by giving too much attention to the dance and frivolities or spending all their money on a fancy location and big DJ, while forgetting about FUN.
So if you're planning a prom, and you're wondering where to put your money so that as many teens as possible ATTEND your school's prom, consider this alternative to the status-quo, and turn your prom into a real party to remember!