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Party hearty at your prom for only pennies

Dance the night away without spending a fortune!  Melissa Foss, style contributor from, shows you how.
/ Source: TODAY

When it comes to prom night, times have changed a lot since the days of borrowing dad's car for a senior dance in the school gym. Modern proms are all about zing, bling and definitely ka-ching! Melissa Foss, style contributor at, has a few smart ideas to create a prom night for pennies ... or close to it.

Teens spend upwards of $600 to even $1,000 on prom, a total of more than $4 billion in the U.S. If you have the money, go for the works — but if you don’t, you won’t have to sacrifice high prom style because of a low budget.

Black is a big trend this year, but so are colors like turquoise, red and purple.

  • eBay — everyone’s favorite online auction site — doubles as a hunting ground for great dress deals. If you have the time and are willing to take a risk for a great deal, you can bid on a dress. There are also plenty of styles you can buy outright for insane savings — more than 80 percent in many cases! 
  • Scout home-shopping sites like for deals. Other great sources include community sites like, and


  • Get a free tux. Men's Wearhouse prom tuxedo representatives can earn a free tuxedo rental and cash rewards when they get their friends to rent their tuxedos from the store. And your buds will save 10 percent on their tuxedo rentals too.
  • Skip the tux, and go with a swanky inexpensive suit, like a slim-fit charcoal suit paired with a crisp white shirt and a hot pink tie. Get the look at Target, where suits cost less than 80 bucks and can be worn again and again! Plus, ties are only $19.
  • Find a group package. Scout the “wedding deals” for group package coupons. At many tux shops, when you rent 10, you get the 11th for free.

Corsage and boutonnière
The corsage has made a comeback in 2006 — everyone will have one, but they can cost up to $35. There are less expensive alternatives, though, that you can create at home:

  • Try a corsage or boutonnière made of ribbon! Use trim from the local crafts store, which costs as little as $2 a yard.
  • Steal a few sprigs of rosemary or peppermint from mom’s herb garden or hit the grocery store, and wrap them up with a ribbon and a pin — practically free!

If you do want flowers, decide on them at least one month before prom. Bring a swatch of your dress to the florist, or at least a picture, to find a style that fits your budget. Affordable — and chic — flowers include lilies and carnations.

HairLuckily for teens who want to do their hair at home, it’s all about ponytails this year! Celebs from Kiera Knightly to Charlize Theron sported this look on the red carpet. Soften the look with a side part and a headband. Amp up the glamour factor for less with a bling-y ponytail holder. Or tousle your locks with a curling iron and fasten with a touch of hair bling.


  • Don’t skip the mascara! Mascara really opens up the eyes and makes you sparkle in photos.
  • Sheer blush will give you a natural-looking glow.
  • Shimmery lip gloss, even if it’s clear, looks great on all skin tones.
  • If you can’t afford expensive tanning treatments, Jergens self-tanning lotion is inexpensive and gives a slow, even self-tan.
  • Professional nail tips can cost over $75. Instead try Dashing Diva’s Tailor Fit French Manicured nails for only 10 bucks! Or go with a simple, no frills manicure and have your mom do it.

Pre-prom parties
You don't have to hit the fancy-schmanciest place in town in order to have a memorable pre-prom meal.

If you and your buds are all together (and dressed to the nines!) you'll have a ball anywhere. Head to your usual neighborhood hangout, or chow down cheap — buffet-style — at your house!

  • Get a $15 White Castle “Crave Case” and serve 30 sliders on a silver tray.
  • Dress up dollar menu French fries in paper cones and mint julep cups.
  • Serve a non-alcoholic signature cocktail. Try the “Pink Promenade” — pink lemonade and Sprite, garnished with a slice of lime!

Prom pixThe cost of your prom portraits will depend on how many prints you order. But some prom picture packages can cost more than $100!

  • Go with the minimal package. And host a picture-taking pre-party at your parent's house, where everyone can take digital shots.  
  • Get your friends on film with a $20 disposable camcorder from CVS.
  • Get all your friends to pool pictures on an online photo sharing service like Ofoto or Snapfish. Then you can decide what pictures you want to buy, or print them out at home for free.

Finally, it’s all about the entrance!
Kids are footing almost $1,000 to rent a stretch Hummer to get to prom. If you can afford the limo, stretch Hummer or party bus, by all means, go for it! But you can also make an equally great entrance in borrowed wheels — your dad’s BMW or a friend’s classic Mustang or a cool SUV!