Every school has different homecoming traditions. Some have parades, some organize a football match, while others extend the celebrations for an entire week. What’s the same though is that homecomings are always a joyous occasion where a school’s alumni come home to their alma mater.

It’s an opportunity for them to tread down memory lane, visit their teachers and the underclassmen they’ve left behind, and catch up with their friends. It often culminates with a big dance. To achieve the perfect homecoming setup, take note of these seven things:

  1. Location

Homecomings are usually done in the school gym, but that isn’t always the case. Some have it in a local hotel or in an open garden. But school gyms remain a popular option for the obvious reason of nostalgia.

Whatever you decide on, book the venue in advance to make sure it’s available on the date of the homecoming. Don’t forget to include necessary facilities and equipment in your reservation, and get a personal copy of the contract in case you need to reference something in the future.

  1. Theme

While they’re not a necessity to homecomings, themes are a great way to engage people. Brainstorm around five theme options, have the student body vote for their favorites, and have it approved by the school board. Do this at least a month before the dance so you’ll have time to pitch another theme in case the first few options are turned down by the school.

Themes also dictate the vibe of the homecoming. An Old Hollywood theme would be perfect for something that’s more formal or a beach luau if you just want it casual.

  1. Decorations

School dances almost always have balloons, gossamer curtains, stringers, and skirted tables. You can make use of these common design elements as long as you strictly stick with your theme. Murals are a great way to hide gym bleachers, and chandeliers add flare to the ceilings.

Homecoming decorations don’t just involve the actual venue. For many schools, the week leading to the dance will be full of festivities to hype the students and alumni who will be attending. You might want to create a separate committee to tackle decorating the halls of the school.

  1. Lighting

Decorations mean nothing if there isn’t proper lighting to set the mood. One of the more crucial areas that need your attention is lighting the stage. This is where most of the program will unfold. The band or DJ will be playing there, as well the coronation of the homecoming king and queen.

The dance floor is equally important. Lights should be properly synched to the beat of the music. Make sure to talk to the DJ or band and the lighting director so that everything is properly coordinated.

  1. Music

It wouldn’t be a dance if there wasn’t any music involved. The choice of DJ or band is therefore a crucial decision you have to make. You need an act that knows how to hype a crowd and sustain their engagement for the entire night. Not an easy feat!

Book them in advance and make the necessary payments. Have them arrive at an early call time so they could set up their equipment properly and do sound checks.

  1. Food and Refreshments

People are bound to get thirsty with all that dancing and catching up with old friends. The food served and table setup should also be in line with your chosen theme. A carnival-inspired homecoming, for example, can have popcorn, cotton candy, and corn dogs. For something more formal, a buffet-type dinner would be more appropriate. In terms of setting up the space, give yourself at least six hours before the dance starts or before the caterer arrives.

  1. Finance

Determine the budget and sources of funding beforehand. All the immense planning you have done will be all for nothing if the cost of mounting the homecoming is greater than the available money.

Approach the student government and school administration how much budget they have allocated for the event. If you feel this is insufficient, you might want to consider doing a fundraiser. You can collaborate with other student organizations, and together, you can host bake sales or car washes.

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