The last song had just been played at our yearly family Masquerade Ball and I had started cleaning when another home school mom approached me. Her son was the same age as my oldest, and like my eldest was home schooled. She asked me what I was going to be doing for my son for Grad.
I had never really thought about Grad for my kids. Both my husband and I went to public school, and both of us decided to skip out on our own prom and so I have to admit that the thought of a Grad for my home schooled kids never really crossed my mind.
I told my friend that I didn’t know, but if she was interested in doing something I was all in.
After contacting a few other mom’s who’s kids were graduating a date was decided, assignments were made and our first Home School Grad was on it’s way to becoming a reality.
I wasn’t sure how the event would turn out considering the fact that I have never attended a Home School Prom, and in truth, when I researched it I did not come up with any inspiring idea’s.
Gratefully the whole evening was a smashing success. The decorations totally rocked, the banquet was stellar, the dance hilariously fun and in short, everyone had a blast. Now that I have already done a Home School Prom, I am totally going to do them for each of my kids!
Here are some things I learned about doing our Home School Prom and hope to remember the next times I do one (which with my family of 11 may be often).
First, gather a committee. I have found, after putting on a ton of events that the best success happens when you have a group of dedicated helpers. The best helpers are those who care the most, which in this case was the mothers of the graduating kids.
In our group of kids we have a few long-time home schoolers who went to highschool for their last year. Because these were kids who were important to me and to my kids, I approached their mothers about helping us do a Grad Party. All of them were thrilled to be a part of the event.
Next we asked the kids what they wanted, after all, the party is for them and all about them. Almost all the kids requested that there be no speeches, that their specific names to not be on the invitations, and to not call the event a “Prom”. Being home schooled was not a label our kids wanted to parade around in. They have worked hard over the past years to grow confidently in our community and have their friends and neighbors see them as people and and a educational choice. I totally got it, and was pleased that they all could articulate their needs so clearly.
Then we discussed our budget (every mom being able to contribute a different amount depending on their situation), broke up the event into area’s for each mom to be in charge of and put a mom in charge of each of those assignments.
In our group, when we divide up assignments, we do not expect those who are in charge of an area to do everything. We all just expect a person to be in charge of organizing and delegating mini-assignments to others. From putting on numerous events, I have found this to be the easiest way to manage the whole thing. When we all have our own area of responsibility but are willing to help in the other area’s it just helps make the whole thing work better.
The different assignments were food, decorations, invitations, music, booking the place and planning games and prizes.
After dividing up the assignments we had to pick a date. Since my sister, who’s daughter was being honored as well, was leaving in April, we choose to do our party early, before she left. This worked out great because it did not conflict with the local high school’s grad and was completely an unexpected party for the kids. I will definitely pick a date in the future that is before all the other schools proms.
Next we made a guest list. You need at least 28 people to have a fun dance. We did not have 28 home school seniors. We did not even have 28 home school kids in our area who were fourteen or older so we invited kids from public school. This worked great because in our daily lives we don’t normally categorize people into ‘public school and home school” groups. We just like people in general and have always had a ton of friends who have all sorts of different educational and life philosophies. This is something our family feels is very important and so it was natural that our kids were allowed to invite friends they knew from other churches, soccer, drama class and next door. Finding 28 people to come was easy and we would have invited more if we could have afforded the cost. We couldn’t and so we stuck to 28 for the dinner and made it clear that others were invited to the dance if they wanted.
We made sure that the invitations said that the event was a formal event. This was super fun. My girls were so excited to go and buy a used 20.00 prom dress. They all choose dresses that were definitely fit for prom, but could be used on other occasions, like a special dinner or date. It was fun shopping with them, hearing them giggle and not feeling the pressure of purchasing a dress that was 100 dollars or more.
I got the “booking the facility and planning games and prizes”! My budget was a bit tight but I luckily had a bunch of left over fancy chocolates and candy from my Candy Store and was able to bring those. For the facility, I just found the smallest church gym I could find and booked it. The cost was free. I also brought my cotton candy machine which the kids loved (and looked great for the pictures).
The decorations were amazing. One of the mom’s had a friend who decorated weddings as side business and she volunteered to do the kid’s prom. It was amazing!! The kids were totally blown away when they walked in the gym and saw it transformed into a magical wonderland. We all helped her decorate and take down the decorations after the dance, even so, it took us about 8 hours to transform the room. The decorator even had a 2017 banner for the kids to take pictures by.
The food was the crowning part of the evening. The mom in charge was incredible! She arranged with her husband to have BBQ’s at the church and they BBQ’d the most divine steaks for each of the kids, with fancy veggies and salad. The cost for the food, for about 35 people (mom’s and helpers got to eat) came to about 500.00 . This was our biggest expense but it fit within our budget so was worth it. The kids were so impressed. Even at the high school proms they don’t get fed that well. It was a ton of work. The kitchen was a swarm of activity with mom’s, siblings, and helpers working fast to make sure everything was perfect. Depending on the budget in the future steak likely won’t be on the menu, but since it was, we enjoyed every flavorful bite.
The activities I planned were okay. We had told the kids that if they dressed up as a famous couple the best costume would win a big prize. There were four couples who took up the challenge and had to be judged. We called the couples up, asked them questions, made them dance and all choose a winner. One of the couples was really a three person group “Larry, Curly and Moe”. They did a dance for us and everyone was dying laughing. I was pleasantly surprised with how much fun the kids had with this activity.
After the judging, (which happened just as dinner was ending), we got all the graduates to come to the front. In this invitation we included all our kids friends who were graduating in one form or another that year. There were about 8 kids who were graduating and each of them were given a huge round of applause and a box of delicious fancy chocolates in a golden box. The kids just soaked in the attention!
We had a few more games and then the dance. I was worried about the dance because there were only about 40 kids (a group showed up just for the dance) but it was a blast. The kids stayed to the very end (11:00pm) and just enjoyed the whole thing. The dance music definitely needs to be improved in the future and at future grad parties I will look for some more dance games because they make everything so fun.
At the last minute I got one of my sisters to be the designated photographer. This was a great idea.