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When Wall Street spontaneously imploded like our father's head when we told him you could barely see the dent on his car, we knew we were in trouble. When President Obama decided to spend five hundred kajillion dollars on an economic bailout, things looked grim. When our cousin with a PhD couldn't get a job at Six Flags, we realized the situation was dire.

But when we heard some teens are having to forgo that ancient rite of passage known as the senior prom because the cost is too high, SparkNotes declared a national emergency. What is this, The Grapes of Wrath?

You can't miss prom. The love, the laughter, the tears, and the tulle are just too critical to becoming a highly functioning adult. So in an effort to make that national pastime affordable for teens on a tight budget, SparkNotes humbly offers a few cost-saving prom ideas:

  • Pull a Scarlet O'Hara and make your own prom dress from curtains. Not as handy on the Singer as Andie Walsh? See if a seamstress can replicate your dream dress for less than it would cost to buy it off the rack.
  • Ask the people at the limo service if they have a means of conveyance that's a little less flashy (and expensive) than the stretch Hummer. Some prom-goers are nixing the limo altogether in favor of the family car or school bus.
  • Select your accessories wisely. No need for a tiara if you make a quick stop by Burger King.
  • You don't have to go out for an uber-fancy dinner before prom. Host a potluck at your house or negotiate a prom prix fixe at a mid-priced restaurant. And there's always Nanerpus.
  • Two words: duct tape.
  • Defray costs by getting an official sponsor. (Use your new lifetime supply for refreshments.)
  • Replace the expensive band or cheesy DJ with an iPod DJ station and let your classmates control the night's soundtrack. One downside: that death metal kid.
  • Make your own corsage and boutonniere from the garden. Be sure to remove any ants, bees, roots, and dirt before pinning to your date.
  • She's no Sally Mann, but your mom would be more than happy to replace the expensive professional photographer.

What are you and your schools doing to make prom more affordable?

Topics: Life
Tags: prom, recession

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About the Author

Kathryn Williams is the author of three YA novels but only one with an Oxford comma in the title. She is a Taurus and hates writing bios. Check out her website,, and follow her on Twitter @kathrynwauthor.

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