Tips For Prom Night Decorating Committees

Here are some tips for prom night decorating committees on how to choose a theme, choose decorations, and get organized.

The memories from prom night last a lifetime. That means there is a lot of pressure on prom decorating committees to create the ambiance that contributes to those memories. Being on a prom night decorating committee is a huge undertaking and requires careful planning on the part of the members. The three main areas for the prom decorating committee to consider are choosing a theme, planning the decorations, and organizing people to do the actual decorating.

Choosing a theme can be accomplished in several ways. Soliciting everyone in the high school to submit theme ideas is one way. Allowing for input from the entire student body encourages participation by a broader scope of people. It can even be a competitive endeavor where the ideas are voted upon and the person submitting the winning theme idea receives a token monetary award or a gift certificate to be used toward renting formal wear or a limousine.

Another way of choosing the prom theme is to allow the prom decorating committee to choose the theme which is then approved by the administration or the committee's school advisor. It is ideal if the prom decorating committee is formed at the beginning of the school year, chooses the theme early, and spends the remaining months until the prom, developing ideas and building parts of the decorations. Prom night decorating does not happen overnight and the more planning and thought that goes into it, the more successful the results will be.

Creativity and possible decoration considerations are important to keep in mind when choosing a theme. Romantic themes are often popular. Themes like "some enchanted evening", "stars and diamonds", "moon river", "celestial starlight", "Roman nights", "love me tender", "somewhere over the rainbow", and "summer breeze" are fun and quite common for proms. But there are many non-traditional themes to consider also, such as, "Tropicana", "cruise ship", "50's rock "˜n roll", "survivor", "Las Vegas", "New York, New York", "The golden globes" "Academy Awards" , "walk of fame", "under the sea", and "Hollywood nights" to name just a few possibilities.

Before the decorations and theme are considered, however, it is best to do some organizational work that will make the process run more smoothly. The committee members should elect a chairman of the committee (who runs the meeting), a secretary (who takes notes and distributes the minutes to the members and archives the minutes for future prom committee use), a treasurer (who keeps track of the budget, pays the bills, and reports to the committee on financial matters), a facilitator (who serves as a prompter if someone neglects their duties or who has questions about how to go about doing their assignments), a public relations person (to solicit outside help from the student body, administration, faculty, and community and to help keep the other school members enthused and informed about the prom).

Once the committee has chosen its officers, the next step is to draw out a scale model of the area where the prom dance will be held. If the area is a gymnasium, for example, a scaled model of the gymnasium, including doors, windows, and entrance should all be drawn to scale on graph paper and copies made for every member of the committee. This will be used later to layout the scaled details of the decorations after they have been chosen, therefore saving a great deal of time in the actual decorating process.

Another necessary organizational tool is to set up a prom night decorating committee calendar. This calendar will include meetings and deadlines dates and times. Copies of the calendar should be given to each member. The first items on the calendar should be deadlines for making decisions about the theme, about decisions for the types of decorations, and general deadlines for the actual purchase, rental, borrowing, and building of the items. There should also be deadlines for forming sub-committees for helping with the project, and times of the final decorating process. Also on the calendar should be dates set for taking down the prom decorations and for a celebration for the committee after the prom is over. Additional items will be added as the decisions are made and other areas are considered.

After the theme is decided and the preliminary organization is completed, the committee should brainstorm possible decorations which will enhance the theme. A running list of possibilities and ideas should be generated over several weeks. The ideas should be free-flowing and nothing should be eliminated at this stage, the more creative the better. If someone suggests that the Academy Award theme should have someone at the door with a microphone to interview each couple as they enter and have several people designated as paparazzi along the walkway that is great! You can always pare down the ideas at a later date. After the deadline of brainstorming has passed, the committee should sit down and decide what is acceptable, feasible, and are the best ideas to enhance the theme. Prom night decorations can be totally designed and put together by the prom decorating committee, or they can be purchased in a total package from some party supply stores, or a combination of both

When the list of decorations to be incorporated into the theme is finalized, the committee should consider what items and labor they have the possibility of getting for "free". For example, if the theme is "survivor", perhaps someone known by a committee member has a small landscape bridge that could be moved to the gymnasium on a temporary basis. Perhaps the shop teacher could be asked to have his class dedicate time to building a small hut structure that could have branches and leaves added for a roof by the decorating committee and could be used as an area to serve punch. There may be someone who is friends with a landscaping business or a craft store, or a rental supply store who, for a nominal fee, will rent the committee some artificial or real trees and patio lights.

After the brain storming session of possible decorations has been established, the list should be separated into categories such as "things to ask to borrow", "things that need to be rented", "things that need to be purchased", and "things that need to be made by the committee". Then assign each item on each list to someone on the committee.

In the "items that need to be borrowed" category, the people assigned to items on this list should put their names beside the items they are taking responsibility for. They will be the person responsible for asking to borrow an item, for taking responsibility for picking the item up and returning it, and for writing a thank you to the lender after the prom.

The people who are assigned responsibility for items from the "things to be rented" categories need to check on availability and costs of the items, pick up the items, and returns the items, after the committee verifies that the costs will fit into the budget. Committee members also need to be assigned to the items that need to be purchased. They will need to research items for availability through shopping in person, or searching on the internet. Those committee members then bring a list of all costs and pictures of the items they have found back to the committee for approval. Pictures can be downloaded from the internet for the online items and a digital camera can be signed out from the school for the in-person shopping.

Each item that needs to be built should also be assigned to the committee member or members. They in turn can solicit help from outside the committee for the completion of each project and set up their own schedules for completion of the building project that will coincide with the final deadline on the committee calendar.

As the time for the prom nears, the committee will need to solicit help in the actual decorating process before the prom and the take down process after the prom. It is often difficult to get volunteers for this time-consuming task. There are a variety of ways that make this easier. The school can require that every person who is attending the prom spend a designated time in helping decorate in order to receive their tickets to the prom for them and their date. The decorating can be the responsibility of service organizations at the school or traditionally become the responsibility of a certain grade level. There can also be the possibility of monetary incentives as in a hiring process. Another option can be prizes given in the manner of a raffle for all those who helped decorate and/ or took the decorations down. Whatever process is used in soliciting help, one committee member should be responsible for overseeing a specific area of the prom scene. The graphed layout should be divided out and assigned to each prom decorating member and that member will be responsible for seeing to it that his or her "team" carries out the intentions and plans of the prom decorating committee.

The prom night decorating committee is a growing experience for young people and should be treated with the same respect, support, and thanks as athletic and academic teams. They should have ways of celebrating their accomplishment and work together for cohesiveness. Successful prom decorating planning is a good resume addition and a great opportunity to develop organization and communication skills. When organized properly and creativity is encouraged, planning for the prom decorations becomes a wonderful memory in itself.

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