If you have a high schooler, then you’re likely well aware that it’s homecoming season — and it’s likely a big topic of conversation in your household! Homecoming is such a fun time for teens and is a chance for them to make lifelong memories. It’s often the first “real” dance they attend, where they have dates and wear corsages and pose for pictures with friends. As parents, it can certainly feel like a big milestone and a chance to let our children spread their wings a bit. But there are a few things to know ahead of times — from fun things like what to wear to important topics like what to do if they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. So today, we put together a list of the 10 things to talk to your teen about before homecoming. We hope you find it helpful!
1. Know the local traditions.
If you live in Texas, then you’re probably familiar with homecoming mums (and if you don’t, then you should definitely look it up!) — where boys give their dates huge paper flower pins the day before the dance. Other school traditions include “asking”someone to homecoming with a decorated poster board sign. These are just some examples, but it varies by school. If you’re unsure, or if your teen doesn’t know if there are any traditions, then you can always ask another mom (especially one with older teens) to make sure you know all the details ahead of time so that your teen is prepared. Questions you might ask are whether or not the girls wear corsages or carry small bouquets, or if everyone travels as a group on a bus. On that note: if you are a boy mom it’s nice to have your son ask what color his date’s dress is so you can coordinate the flowers.
2. Know the dress code.
We all know there are few things more mortifying than showing up to an event in the wrong kind of attire. Add teenage feelings and drama to the mix, and you have a dangerous combination! But this can be easily avoided by simply asking other parents or friends what the dress code is for homecoming at your teen’s school — whether girls wear short dresses or long dresses, boys wear suits or tuxedos, if it’s semi-formal or formal. Social media is also a great resource: Just look up pictures of past events to get a good feel for what people have worn in previous years! P.S. If there is an after party, teens may opt to bring a change of clothes.
Shop our picks for tasteful homecoming dresses here on DoSayGive Teen!
3. Remind them to ask and respond in a timely manner.
If someone asks your daughter to a homecoming dance, or asks your son to a Sadie Hawkins-style dance, then they should respond in a prompt manner. Unless there is a good reason not to, say “yes” to the first person who asks. And never cancel a date because a better option comes along. Etiquette is about treating others how you would want to be treated!
4. Have a plan if they don’t have a date.
If your daughter doesn’t get asked to homecoming, reassure her that it’s not the end of the world. There is still plenty of fun to be had and memories to be made. Encourage her to go with a group of friends — there are few things more fun than your girl friends dancing the night away, after all!
5. Go over proper etiquette.
Having good manners is a show of self-respect as well as respect for their dates — and helps them avoid embarrassing themselves in front of their friends! Remind boys to walk to the front door when picking up their dates (don’t text and say you’re outside!). Shake her father’s hand and look parents in the eye when speaking. Remember things like holding the door open (this includes the car door, too!) and don’t walk in front of your date (walk by her side or a little behind). Remind both sons and daughters to introduce their date if they don’t know others in the group. The week before homecoming is a good time to do a table manners refresh and remind both sons and daughters about good posture, too!
Remember, we have an entire section on attending dances and formals in our Girls’ Etiquette E-Course with much more on this topic!
6. Talk about posting on social media.
Homecoming is so much fun and it’s only natural to want to document every part of it. But remind teens not to post unflattering photos of others. This post has some great conversations to have with teens about what to post and not post on social media.
7. Have a game plan for transportation.
Is your son planning to pick up and drive his date to the dance? Is your daughter riding in a car with friends? Is a large group going on a bus together? How will your teen get home from the dance? Don’t overlook this important detail of the night — it is one that will give you peace of mind!
8. Determine a curfew.
If there’s one thing you don’t want to be doing at midnight on homecoming, it’s trying to track down your teenager to see when he or she will be home. So just sit down with your teen and agree on an appropriate time they need to be home after the dance. It’s also good to discuss this with other parents — like the parents of your teen’s date. That way, everyone has similar curfews and no one feels like they’ll be left out of the fun by having to go home early.
9. Talk with other parents.
If you don’t know the parents of your teen’s homecoming date, get to know them! If your teen is going in a big group, then start a group text of all the moms! The more communication, the more you’ll be in the loop. This will help with everything we talked about above — from traditions to what to wear to transportation and more.
10. Discuss what to do if they’re ever in an uncomfortable situation.
One of the most important tools you can give your son or daughter is one that can get them out of a situation they don’t want to be in or shouldn’t be in. Talk about what to do if the people they’re with drink alcohol, or if there are drugs present. Go over boundaries and what to do if a date acts disrespectful or inappropriate. Come up with a back-up plan on how to get home if the person driving is under the influence. Many families have code phrases that alerts the parents that the teen wants to be picked up but doesn’t want to be embarrassed about admitting that.
Parents, what else would you add to this list? We’d love to know! If you have a teen daughter, be sure to check out our online course Etiquette Essentials for Tween & Teen Girls — we cover traditional etiquette, social media etiquette, how to be a good friend, and entire section on attending dances and formals. And boy moms, don’t worry. Our course for teen and tween boys is coming soon. Be sure you’re signed up to receive our emails to be the first to know!