Prom can be a truly magical night for teenagers, but it can also be a lot of money and effort put into something that winds up being a disappointment. Fortunately, you don’t have to depend on your school to make that night a special one. Here are some great ideas on steps you can take to make prom a night to remember.

Before Prom Night

The most important facet about prom is to go with people you like. It can be a great night with just you and your boyfriend or girlfriend, but it can be even more fun if the two of you have a group of friends to hang out with throughout the night. Enjoy a night out dressed up with all of your friends instead of just making it about one person.

If you’re going with a group, consider dress themes. Speaking of themes, color-coordinating your dresses and tuxes can make your group of friends look and feel closer. Find creative ways to match the theme, and the pictures will all look incredible afterward. It doesn’t have to be the same color, either. You can choose a favorite TV show or movie and pay it tribute with your outfit in some way.

Do a little research on after-prom activities too. You don’t want to sit around with the group saying, “So… what do we do now?” Before the night, do some research and find out restaurants or other locations that are open late so you have some options already picked out. Maybe the group would even be interested in springing for some horse-drawn carriage rides or something equally romantic.

Capture the Memories

As you’re making your plans, start a prom scrapbook. If you start it now, you can take pictures of the whole exciting planning process, from dress shopping to renting the limo to the night of to the after-party. Pass the camera around among your friends to make sure you capture all the great moments you can.

On Prom Night

Start off the night right with a pre-prom party at your house or a friend’s house. This is a great opportunity to take pictures before you get to prom and you all want to dance. Make it a silly theme for even more fun.

Once you’re at the dance, focus on having fun. Play games throughout the night. Keep track of how many songs are played that you all hate. Swap accessories or shoes secretly with your friends and see who notices. People watch – tell elaborate stories about which couples are going to stay together after high school and which are not. Make up your own games to make your prom unique for your group.

When it comes to dancing, you can do the traditional dances, but you can also mix it up with unusual group dances. As a group, have fun going against the flow of things. Start an enthusiastic conga line on a slow song, or perform the Gangnam Style dance. Most people aren’t naturally great dancers and it’s easy to get shy about it, but when all your friends are doing goofy dances it’s hard not to join in and have fun with it. See how many people you can get to join in with you in your crazy dance floor adventures.

After the Dance

Now is the time to do those post-prom activities you looked up beforehand. There are no rules to this, so just do whatever you and your friends want to do. This is your night. This would also be a great moment to give a prom-themed gift to your friends. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it should be something that can be used as a fun reminder long after the prom is over. If you’d rather, you can wait until a week or so later and then send them thank-yous in the form of a framed photo of all of you together.

Donald Frasier is a freelance writer based in Houston, Texas. Those in the Dallas area who’d like to look their best for the prom should consider prom dresses Dallas for top prom attire.