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School Proms - are they out of hand?

(102 Posts)
Grandmama Thu 29-Jun-17 19:14:58

GD1 is 16 and has finished GCSEs and it's the school prom this Friday. It is costing a fortune. The Prom ticket is £30. Two dresses are needed - the Prom dress (which I have shortened to save the cost of an alteration shop) and the dress for the after-Prom party plus shoes. There is the cost of two make-up sessions with a beautician. GD and some friends have had a practice make-up session with the beautician and she will do their make-up before the Prom. This will involve DD taking an afternoon off work because GD cannot get to the beautician's village on public transport. GD is today buying a clutch bag and possibly a necklace. Some of the girls are talking about a spray tan.
DD and SIL are not at all happy about the scale of the expense but there is so much peer pressure. For parents on a low income this must be really difficult. It's DD's first big 'do' so DD and SIL are grinning and bearing it because they don't want her to look back in future years and feel that she was the odd one out with her friends. What do other grans think?

hulahoop Fri 30-Jun-17 14:18:56

I agree desdamona if all parents stuck together a lot of these expensive American ideas would stop , I feel sorry for parents who can't afford these things it's like everything though some parents would not agree

fiorentina51 Fri 30-Jun-17 15:42:01

Proms were just starting when my daughter finished school. We got her a lovely black velvet strapless gown with a matching velvet bolero from a charity shop. Total cost £10 as she did her hair and make up herself and already had some strappy sandals.
Not a fan of the whole concept myself unless the kids try to kit themselves out for the least amount of money. I think I'm a bit of a tightwad at heart. 😊

Daisyboots Fri 30-Jun-17 20:16:05

My younger daughters (twins) prom was in 2000. Thank goodness it wasn't like it is now. Two dresses from a local shop and they did each others makeup. No charge for tickets as it was held in the school hall and they had a great time. 10 years later and it was my DGD's turn. My daughter went absolutely over the top. Beautiful dress, spray tan, professional makeup, hire of a hotel room to get ready, stretch limo etc. It cost a lot of money she couldn't afford. I just don't understand the need. There is also the graduation days for children leaving nursery to go to primary school and then children leaving primary to go to high school. Complete with gowns and mortar boards. I think the world has gone mad.

Deedaa Fri 30-Jun-17 22:10:08

How did we all manage to leave school at all with none of this kerfuffle? I wouldn't mind but it's the sort of stuff I think is naff for adults, never mind children. What is the point of a stretch limo? They look ugly and two minutes in one would make me sick.

dumdum Fri 30-Jun-17 22:15:18

Glad I didn't have to cough up for this as I have 4 children. Not only that, but there's a repeat performance 2 years on if they stay on for years 12 & 13, which all mine did.

MissAdventure Fri 30-Jun-17 22:24:59

Its absolutely ridiculous, I think. Bring back the school disco!

Penstemmon Fri 30-Jun-17 22:44:58

I do not recall any school based event to mark finishing 5th form..or for that matter upper 6th! We just all went to a lot of house parties or hung out on the common together getting slightly stoned! Neither of my daughters had 'proms' either just a disco!

At the school DGD is about to go to in September they do have a prom night...someone landed a helicopter on the school field this year!! I am already working on her to say that her friends should have competition to see who can be the best charity shop dressed on a £20 budget grin

Lillie Sat 01-Jul-17 07:57:39

After nearly two pages I feel I must spring to the defence of pupils, teachers and parents. I'm not saying I disagree with all the comments about cost and extravagance, but proms are what they are and they are here to stay for this generation.
The Year 11s have worked so hard over the past 2 years that they deserve a reward for their efforts. (GCSEs are in some respects harder than in the "old days" and cause a lot of stress.) Many pupils have looked forward to the prom for months, some have done Saturday jobs and some have actually organised events to pay for their finery.
On the whole teachers are supportive too, because it gives us the opportunity to interact with the children out of the classroom. It's important the pupils see us as being human and friendly, and ready to take part in their one night of fun.
Parents can be instrumental too without it costing them a fortune. The PTA usually pays for the premises, the band, the food and drink ( no alcohol), the flowers, the photographer, extra staff etc. etc.
It's up to the individual how much he or she wants to spend on the dress/suit and trimmings. On average each pupil probably spends around £150. No more than the average GN might spend on a wedding outfit, shoes, hat, hair do, transport etc.
It's a once in a lifetime event. I hope everyone has a ball!

Iam64 Sat 01-Jul-17 08:57:14

Thanks Lillie. Life changes. Proms r us, whether we like it or not. They were just starting when my younger children did gcse and A levels. I set a limit on what they could spend on frocks, they paid half from the monthly spends which included a small clothing allowance. Hair and makeup were part of the getting ready fun, they all did each others.

Maybe proms will go out of fashion, maybe these mega big wedding and stag/hen do's will be seen as naff and rejected by the next generation. None of it us my taste but I'm not young. My grandchildren and adult children wouldn't want to wear a smelly afghan coat, or second hand moth eaten fur coat bought for £1 on the market. I thought those items were essential 😀

Christinefrance Sat 01-Jul-17 09:08:32

I agree Lillie, times are very different now and our grandchildren should enjoy themselves without us griping about 'the good old days ' there is no need to go over the top with professional make up etc.
My granddaughter sent me a picture of herself ready for the prom in a lovely dress borrowed from her older sister. I too hope they all have a ball. smile

Lillie Sat 01-Jul-17 09:23:45

a smelly afghan coat my cousin had one of those Iam64. I was a child at the time and thought he was so cool!

Christine I bet your GD looked lovely!

Ginny42 Sat 01-Jul-17 09:24:52

What was wrong with autographing your school shirts and throwing the dreadful school beret into the river?

My hairdresser was advertising a Primary Prom make up, manicure and hair do! What sort of madness is that?

CassieJ Sat 01-Jul-17 09:27:22

My 16 year old has his school prom next week. The only cost for me has been a new suit [ which will do for interviews too ]. I got this when M&S had a 20% off sale so that came in under £100. Also his prom ticket which was £30.
I think it is far easier for a boy to just turn up in a suit, than girls who have to have the whole dress, makeup etc.

I am lucky in that my lad isn't led by peer pressure. He has no interest in turning up in a limo or whatever else some go in. He is very much his own person and will do things his way no matter what everyone else is doing.

I look at proms as a reward for all the hard that they have put in for their exams. It doesn't have to cost the earth. This will probably be the last time some of them see each other too with going to different 6th forms and colleges, so it is nice for them to be able to get together one last time.

Barmyoldbat Sat 01-Jul-17 09:29:28

I have seen four of my five gc through school proms. I told them all I would pay for most of the stuff needed up to a maximum amount. Anything not spent from the budget they could have and put in savings for a holiday or towards driving lessons. Three of them searched the charities shops and saved a fortune. Dad provided the car by dressing up his . And I must say they each looked lovely.

sweetcakes Sat 01-Jul-17 09:37:21

Lillie, Iam64, Christinefrance
Thank god someone who can see the other side of it, what a bunch of miserable people on here sometimes, so you don't like it what did you get up to in the 50/60's that your parents didn't approve of. Also I find it's the parents with limited funds that spend what they can't afford and take pleasure from the happiness on their D or S faces.

Howcome Sat 01-Jul-17 10:16:02

My daughter had an "off site" prom some years ago - it cost a lot as she went to school with a lot of "gals" who had the limos and hairdressers on tap- she didn't. Being a girls school they also had to find and pay for a date - generally from the local boys school. So 2 tickets to an expensive off site event plus transport, dresses (2), hair etc. etc. She loved it though set her up nicely for uni graduation expenses and expectations. My son who went to the boys school declined to do his prom. His choice - he didn't have the nerve to ask a girl and doesn't enjoy social occasions- so no expense despite our best efforts to persuade him not to be left out. He chose after a gap year not to go to Uni either - he earns more than his Sister and is much much cheaper to run, despite having discovered a social life... he did however have a primary graduation - with a tiny dinner suit and one of his friends Dads Hiring a stretch limo they could "buy" places on for transport - think that cost about £5 each for them to get there and back in style. The mini DJ was an MS sale purchase - that went to charity about 2 months later when he'd grown out of it!!
I think the whole practise is OTT although some of the youngsters seem to enjoy it (my daughter) others (my son) not so much - to each their own and to each generation it's own ways. Tell you what is bad, some of daughters friends had a sweet sixteen as well, which was just starting - now that is a blatant ripoff and over consumption some parents spent thousands and what was basically an OTT wedding with no groom, the competion on that to get an invite (save the days sent by courier to the school at break to only those the inviter felt had put in the effort to be a part goer) let alone the party itself, is ridiculous - we wouldn't do it - despite her thoughts at the time she didn't just die!! I hope the sweet sixteen debacle has gone now, at least prom is a mass gathering for all who want with a purpose!!

Hm999 Sat 01-Jul-17 10:16:56

I'm horrified by the extravagance, which has gradually got worse over last ten, fifteen years. Little change out of £250. Not in school hall now with in-house food, but a hired hotel function room with caterers, and a coach there and back. Y11 form tutors, who were formerly described as 'guests', and were expected to go (and work, supervising pupils) were still expected to go, but now had to pay. (And yes female teachers need a posh frock too). Young skint teachers were banned from going late (ie after the meal, so they only had to pay for a drink). Little highlights the gap between Senior Leadership (who know only a few kids by name) in a school, and their knowledge of dire financial state of their younger teachers.

pollyperkins Sat 01-Jul-17 10:17:20

Well I can see both sides but some of this expense seems extreme and unnecessary. Nothing wrong with them having a lovely party/ dance and dressing up but why the professional make up, stretch limo , hotel rooms, two outfits etc? I think its become OTT.
As to toddlers/babies smashing up cakes for a photo, words fail me! Thank goodness my daughter & DiL are too sensible for this nonsense.

KatyK Sat 01-Jul-17 10:30:56

Our granddaughter's prom dress was about £150. Then there were accessories, hair, nails, car etc. I'm glad these things didn't exist when my DD was at school.

Diggingdoris Sat 01-Jul-17 10:31:44

My 15 year old DGD is already planning for her prom next year. She's asked for a £1000 budget because that's what her friends are supposedly going to have. My DR is a single parent and has said there is no way she can afford that. She has told DGD that she will have to get a holiday job to pay for all the spray tan, hairdo, nails etc. I've suggested that they start looking for a dress during this summer, as I'm sure there will be lots of second hand ones for sale in a few weeks time!

Luckygirl Sat 01-Jul-17 10:36:28

I don't think we are being a "miserable bunch." Just aware of the discomfort that this sort of pressure presents for the less well off families. I think it is possible to celebrate and say goodbye without such expense.

The most important moment of our celebrations was the contract bus driving past the head's house - we all threw our ties/berets/scarves etc. into his garden from the top deck of the bus, amidst much cheering.

gillybob Sat 01-Jul-17 10:42:42

Well I like the idea of a school prom although think they could easily be toned down. I mean 2 dresses, limos etc. Is just plain ridiculous . A ( prom) party celebrating the end of school is a lovely idea though.
Nothing wrong with a bit of dressing up.

Kisathecat Sat 01-Jul-17 10:48:59

Well said eloethan! This sort of thing always makes me think of 'Carrie'

abudhabimamie Sat 01-Jul-17 11:16:57

And as for 'graduation' ceremonies for 4 year old leaving nursery to go on to infant school, how ridiculous is that?

Bewiikdered toddlers in polyester grad robes and mortar boards receiving an honours scroll, whatever next!

I vetoed it at the nursery where I was a governor but it still went ahead and Ofsted turned up during the event and thought it totally pointless and reduculous where 60 kids were sweating on the hottest day of the year!

Nanny27 Sat 01-Jul-17 11:35:48

Having been a teacher for many years I can totally sympathise with parents who are faced with the ever increasing cost of proms. A d as for it being once in a lifetime, don't you believe it! Year 11 prom is followed two years later by 6th form prom and if the student goes on to university an annual May ball which can easily run into £1000 each. Some people suggest that it's up to the students how much they want to pay but peer pressure has never been so great and I have, over recent years seen the distress of young girls and lads who know their families cannot afford it. Some choose not to attend and miss out on a great occasion through not wanting to embarrass their parents.