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How To Go To the Prom Practically For Free

All it takes is a little effort and a lot of ingenuity to attend your prom in style for little or no money.


  • Step 1: Ask your parents if there’s something you can do around the house or yard to earn some money.
  • TIP: One of the hottest fundraisers today is the cookie dough sale.
  • Step 2: Try bartering for goods and services. Maybe a few nights of babysitting for a local restaurant owner will get you a swanky pre-prom meal.
  • Step 3: Make your own corsage and boutonniere; find instructions online or in a crafts book from the library.
  • FACT: Approximately one-third of high school students say their parents pick up the full cost of the prom. Only 28% of males and 10% of females footed the bill themselves.
  • Step 4: Speak to your school about holding a fundraiser, like a bake sale or car wash, to help pay for the prom itself.
  • Step 5: See if your local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving will help offset the cost of limos.
  • Step 6: Find a dress to borrow. Ask an older sister or friends who've been to the prom before, or even check out your mom's wedding gown. Just remember, there’s a fine line between vintage and hopelessly out of date.
  • Step 7: Surf the web for “win a prom dress” contests sponsored by radio stations and magazines.
  • Step 8: Scan the free section of your local Craigslist, as well as for evening wear and accessories.
  • Step 9: Check out eBay, thrift stores, and consignment shops for evening bags and shoes.
  • Step 10: Ask a local salon if they will give you and your friends a deep discount on hair blowouts and mani-pedis if you guarantee a certain number of customers and come at an off-peak time.
  • Step 11: Approach local boutiques about holding a prom dress giveaway--a day when they offer gowns donated by local residents. Most shop owners are interested in any kind of event that will drive business to their store. Or ask a local college, youth-based charity, or environmental group to make it one of their community projects.

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