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The Homecoming Experience: Dates, Dresses, and Dancing

About a month after school starts, many teenagers are preparing for their school’s homecoming weekend. For most schools, Homecoming typically includes a Friday night football game followed by a Saturday night school dance.

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Having a Date for Homecoming

The most popular factor that differs between schools is whether the majority of people go with dates or not. At some schools, many people feel as though they would be ostracized if they don’t walk into the school with a boy/girl on their arm. However, one thing that accompanies going with a date is an elaborate ask or proposal. When asking someone to homecoming, there is a lot of pressure to be as creative as possible. I have heard of proposals that range from spelling out “Homecoming?” in Chik-Fil-A nuggets and decorating their (soon to be) date’s room to proposing by singing a song in front of everyone during lunch. Although there is a lot of pressure to come up with a creative proposal, it is not anything to stress about, and you can find plenty of ideas online.

I had an awkward experience when a boy I barely knew asked me to his school’s homecoming. My friend, who went to the same school as the boy, was trying to find a homecoming date for him. She asked me to go with him, and though I was hesitant, I agreed. One week later he was standing on my doorstep with flowers and candy. This proposal lived up to my expectation of awkwardness (but not quite as bad as I thought it would be). I went to the dance with him, and it ended up being fun despite the initial uncomfortable situation.

Going to Homecoming with a Group

My school is casual about dates. At my school, the “norm” is that people go to homecoming with a large group of friends. What I’ve learned from personal experience, and from friends who go to other schools, is that going with a large group of friends is the easiest way to include everyone who wants to go and to ensure that nobody feels left out. And it removes the pressure for “needing” to have a date.

Planning for Homecoming

And then there are the plans before the dance. Usually a large group of friends will meet at one person’s house. Parents are invited to take pictures of the group, and each person typically brings some type of food. Going to someone’s house before homecoming is a fun way to see everyone dressed up and prepare for the evening.

Which brings us to another element of homecoming — the attire. Since Homecoming is more casual, most guys wear dress pants with a dress shirt and tie and most girls wear short dresses with heels. The dress can be a struggle. Some people spend a lot of money on the “perfect Homecoming dress,” while others spend as little as possible—from upwards of $200 on a dress to under $30. Although there is no universal key to finding the “perfect dress,” the goal is really just to find something that looks good, makes sense, and allows for lots of movement and dancing.

Being a senior, I have pretty much seen it all when it comes to homecoming, from the stress of where pictures should take place to the drama that follows two girls buying the same dress and the creative ways people ask someone to be their date.

The No. 1 rule I have learned is—Don’t Stress!—because homecoming is what you make it, and there is every reason to make it fun!

Sarah Moore

Sarah Moore is a senior at Orange High School in Ohio and has attended three (soon to be four) homecomings.