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Prom on the Cheap

11 ways to celebrate the big day without big bucks

Shar Petit

Published on: May 07, 2014

Prom cupcakes

Ask sweetly

Kids have gotten very creative about asking each other to prom — with roses, raps, extravagant posters and more. But what better way to pop the question than by spelling it out with cupcakes? Use this idea by Fluffy Thoughts Bakery as inspiration. Simple and delicious.

Prom manicureNailing it down

Skip the outrageous salon prices: Invite all your daughter’s gal pals to a mani-pedi party to get glossy. A quick trip to the drugstore for the essentials, an open space to set up the “salon” and some helpful tips from Happy Money Saver should start you on your way. Send each fancy lady home with a grab bag of accessories for touch-ups.

Prom bow tie

Tie it up with a bow

To add an edge to a young gentleman’s costume, go for accessories with personality, such as this physics-inspired tie by Speicher Tie Company ($25 on Etsy). Or get hands-on snazzy and create a custom bow tie (or suspenders), as in this polka-dotted tutorial by Sew Like My Mom. You’re sure to come away with something more original than the usual rent-a-tux options.

Upcycled prom dress

Going vintage

How beautiful is this prom dress by Lisa Golightly? Would you ever guess it was DIY’d from a thrifted wedding gown? A quick dip-dye and some alterations can elevate a repurposed outfit to belle-of-the-ball status. Secondhand stores and consignment shops are a great place to start — what’s old is new again!

Prom pumps

Pumped-up kicks

Transform a bargain pair of pumps with the help of a little sparkle. Add rhinestones, glitter paint or clip-on earrings, as in this Miss Kris Turner tutorial, for heels Cinderella would envy.

Prom updo

All about the hair

Ah, teenage girls and their hair — the inspiration for hours of discussion and debate. Bangs or no bangs? To color or not to color? Prom is no exception. Get the prom-bound gals (including sisters and moms) together and set up a home salon. Comb through Pinterest for DIY updo tutorials, such as this one by Bobby Glam, and save time and money during prep.

Prom boutonniere

Petal pushers

Avoid the rush at your local florist with this DIY boutonnière idea by Lia Griffith. Made from specialty paper, these precious petals make for great prom keepsakes. Check out the full post for assembly tips and links to other paper creations, such as everlasting corsages and bouquets.

Prom photo booth

Strike a pose

The photo setup at prom is usually tacky and overpriced — and you only get one posed moment to remember the night by. Instead, set up a booth at home with a shiny backdrop and props, such as this one by Nesting in the Bluegrass, and invite all your prom queens and kings over for a photo shoot. Parents get to grab their own snaps and give a warm sendoff, and kids will have gigabytes of shots to choose from.

DIY prom backdrop

Ready for a close-up

Here’s another sparkling idea for a prom photo shoot by Seniorologie. Using cut crepe paper and a glitter curtain, DIY a red carpet–worthy backdrop for a pre-prom photo shoot or impromptu selfies. Just right for tagging, pinning and sharing!

Superhero prom

Prom heroes

The Lovely Find shares a more grown-up version of wearing Superman undies. Subbing out the standard white undershirt for your promgoer’s fave superhero tee is fun and makes for fantastic photo ops.

Prom dinner

Backyard bistro

Part of the charm of prom night is dinner on the town with 12 of your besties. If your ladies and gents are up for something a little different, create a restaurant in your backyard, complete with menus, formal tableware, and parents as chefs and servers. Head over to Abby Mitchell Events for a picture-perfect example (captured by Aaron Clark Photography) of how to make a DIY prom dinner work.

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