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back to the prom
how to throw a prom-themed party 
Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3 4

Confession time now: I skipped my senior prom. I'd gone to my junior one the year before, and would go to my boyfriend's prom the year later, but on the night that's supposed to be the biggest social event of every teenager's life, I found myself dateless. Granted, this was a fairly normal state for me in the high school years, but on that night, it hit particularly hard in the loser sensitive spot. Sure, by then I was sufficiently bitter about my whole high school experience that I might have declined an invitation anyway, but in the end, what it came down to was that nobody asked. (Cue the violins.)

In the end, I survived just fine. But when my boy finally defended his doctoral dissertation not too long ago, I saw an opportunity. Here he was, having completed the final step that meant that after twenty-odd years of studies, he was officially done with school at last. And there I was, realizing that the perfect way to commemorate this important rite of passage was by throwing a prom.

Hosting a prom-themed party offers something for just about everyone. The lucky folks who still have fond memories of high school get the opportunity to relive their glory days. Meanwhile, those of us who were a bit lower on the high school popularity chain get the chance to do prom the way we always wished it had been done -- with all the fun and none of the pressure. No need for a date; no stressing over how to scare up $150 for that dress you saw in Seventeen magazine, the one you were convinced you'd wither up and die over if you couldn't have it.

Prom season's just around the corner, and no matter how many years it's been since you bid those high school hallways buh-bye, you too can join in the prom madness. Here's how to host your very own prom-themed bash…

If you're brave enough to risk the laughter of everyone you know, dig through your old prom and formal photos, scan in your faves, and use them for your invitations. I ended up using my boy's junior prom photo, as his date was wearing a rather hilarious and deeply 80s bubble-skirted number (although technically, the picture was from the early 90s -- clearly fashion was a few years behind in the 'burbs). Whether you're going the paper method or opting for the email/web route, send out your invitations about 3 weeks in advance. You should also send a follow-up email a few days before the party, with detailed instructions on getting to your house.

Stuck on wording? Steal this template:

To celebrate [insert reason for gathering], we're having a prom!

Get yourselves gussied up on the evening of [insert date .] Unlike at your last prom, there's no need to stress over finding a date. Nor do we want you to shell out the big bucks to find the perfect dress -- scour your closets and hit the thrift shops, and get creative in your interpretation of prom-wear… whether it's tux (regular or fancy-colored), suit (likewise), sports jacket, or velvet smoking jacket, beaded gown, bridesmaid attire from hell, or (bonus points) your actual high school prom dress. Yes, we'll even be happy to see you if you show up in your regular ol' street clothes -- but be forewarned: in grand teen movie tradition, we may just take the opportunity to give you an instant prom makeover.

The spiked punch starts flowing at [insert time]. Though you're welcome to bring the flasks you snuck into your last proms (and encouraged!), this prom offers a fully stocked bar. Join us for prom portraits and a smorgasbord of fine finger foods; drink, mingle and dance into the wee hours of the night. Send your limos, or other mode of transport, to [insert address]. Detailed directions will follow.

mosey on this way folks

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