My memories of High School Homecoming just include going to a football game and then going to a dance in the high school gym. In my kid's world those things still occur but they've been amped up quite a bit. As the Mom of four teens I've been though this a few times and after receiving quite a few phone calls from parents with questions thought I would summarize my experience with this Homecoming Guide. I don't profess to have all the answers especially as Homecoming can be different in different schools and in different locations, so please share any traditions you have or tips to make it a great night in the comment section below!
This sounds like it should be simple, as in just ask. However, where my kids go to school there is quite a bit of creativity involved in asking a date to the dance. Here are some fun ideas that I've heard of:
My experience is that for Homecoming the boys wear a suit coat, dress shirt, tie, dress pants (with a belt!) and dress shoes. The girls favor short cocktail type dresses and shoes with heels higher than it seems possible to walk in. As the Mom of three boys I usually head to JC Penny and can be in and out in under 30 minutes with everything they need. I often order shoes on zappos.com because it's so easy and their return policy is terrific.
Shopping for girls is usually an exercise in patience and stamina. Although the mall and boutique stores are an option I know people who have very good luck on line at sites such as simplydresses.com, lilyboutiques.com, lulus.com, and laceaffair.com. I always have my daughter do the "sit test" as in can you sit down and still have everything covered test.
If my kids are going to the dance with someone that we don't know, I usually call and introduce myself to their Mom. Often the boy will wear a tie that is the same color as the girls dress and flowers are usually ordered to coordinate with the colors that the kids are wearing so this something to discuss. Since there is usually a pre-party with a number of couples to take pictures together and a party after the dance, conveniently referred to as the after party, I usually start asking my kids if they have heard who is hosting these parties. Sometimes that is when I found out that we are being asked to host! I would highly recommend calling the parents that are hosting these parties to confirm that they are hosting, to confirm that they will be home, and see if you can help with food or chaperoning.
I usually wait to order the corsage or boutonniere until I know the dress or tie color. I live in the Chicago area and ordered the flowers, above from Sunset Foods. You will be busy on the day of the dance, so I would recommend ordering from a place that is convenient. Girls usually favor a wrist corsage and a single flower boutonniere for the boys works just fine.
This can be a busy day, especially if you have a girl who wants her nails done or a special hairdo. Make sure to build in time to pick up flowers and get to the picture parties on time. I try to give my kids a light dinner before they leave the house because there is often not much time to eat or not much served at the dance. Some schools don't allow purses or bags into the dance so check on school policies and if kids will need to check their bags at the door. Many girls bring a pair of footie socks or ballet slippers to slip on at the dance as either it's hard to dance in heels all night or their school has them check their shoes at the door as well.
Where we live it's a tradition for groups of kids to get together for a picture party before going to the dance. The kids usually arrange this and arrange for anywhere from 5-12 couples (or more!) to meet at either a park or someone's house to take pictures together. Parents attend this and take photos of the kids giving each other flowers and taking group pictures. My son recently attended a picture party where these appetizers were served outside. Don't be surprised if the kids especially are too busy to eat, but it is nice for the parents to have something to nibble on while they get acquainted and take pictures.
Even though the dance ends at 10:30 or so at night, many kids gather for an after party that lasts until 1 am or even much later for the upperclassman. Hosting an after party is a lot of responsibility because it's late, it's dark out, and as parents you can be held responsible if there is any underage drinking. We have hosted these before and take a few precautions to keep everyone safe but still having fun. Some of my suggestions:
Fresh fruit tray
Chopped salad from a local restaurant
Bread sticks with dipping sauces from a local restaurant
Going to the Homecoming Dance can be such a great time. Knowing what to expect or how to plan for it is half the battle. I'd love to hear what your traditions are or how you navigate this night to make sure your kids have a great time and still stay safe. Feel free to comment below!
A platter of fresh fruit is always a good thirst quencher after a dance. You can get a bit fancy by saving the top of the pineapple as a centerpiece on the platter!
I often have parents who offer to bring food for the kids to eat as well. Even store bought cookies, displayed on a nice platter, make for an easy dessert.
I will have 2 liter bottles of pop in a bucket of ice for the kids but I also like having a big container of water. Float a few sliced lemons and some ice and it looks even more festive!