Thursday, July 19, 2018

Keep calm, it's prom night.

I promised a post about library programming--here it is.

I've done a special event every Thursday this summer (for ten total weeks, ending Aug. 2...not like I'm counting or anything) (I am. I am totally counting down and can't wait for school to start back.), and by FAR the most popular I've done is Library Prom.

So proud of this ridiculous outrun-looking graphic. Make your own HERE


  • What: literally just a dance party for little kids. This was my assistant's idea and it started kind of as a joke, but the more we talked about it the more awesome and doable we realized it was. 
  • Who: small kids, their parents, a lot of library staff, and an excellent team of teen volunteers.
  • Where: my library's community room. We transformed it into school-gym-levels of dance corny.
  • When: we hold all our summer events on Thursdays at 2PM.
  • Why: because it was a great idea! Most kids don't get to do something like this until at least middle school or high school, so we decided to recreate all the cheesiness of school dances, but for the elementary (and younger) crowd.
  • Wear: we told the kids and parents to dress up. Some kids took that literally! We had a t-rex, a spider, and Harry Potter among other things. Honestly, though, parents are just happy to get another use out of fancy clothes and costumes. The staff went all in--our Adminsitrator wore her light up constellation dress, and two of my coworkers and I went thrifting to get 80's-tastic dresses. It was a lot of fun!


  • Space: book it early. We already knew we had the space and time blocked out, so that was good. All you need is a good space for music and dancing, then provide said music.As far as programs I've had to run myself, this one was one of the easiest. 
  • Food (optional): We also knew that the snacks we'd provide would be our regular summer snacks--popcorn, lemonade, and water. No need to go fancier than that, but you could if you wanted to make the event more food-focused.
  • Music: honestly, I spent more time building the playlist than I did anything else. My only two criteria were 1. must be clean, and 2. has a good beat. 
  • Photo booth: must-have! The parents love a spot to take great pics. I had my teens make a "Library Prom" banner (it was authentically made by real high schoolers), and we hung it on these curtains that are always in the room. We also had some cool props so the kids could take funny pictures. This is such a simple thing that makes a big difference!
  • Craft: having a craft gives the kids would have something to do when they needed a break from dancing. Early on, we decided a simple paper corsage/boutonniere would be the easiest and cutest. The kids loved it--almost every kid made one!
  • Supplies: here's what we ended up purchasing (everything else we either had already or made):


As previously mentioned, I had an AMAZING team of 7 teen girls who came and blew up 75 balloons, built a balloon arch, hung decorations from the ceiling, made streamers happen everywhere, and were generally awesome. We were done by 1:30, giving us plenty of time to put the finishing touches on everything.

Once the kids started coming in, they were dancing immediately. I made sure to add some songs the moms would know, too (The Electric Slide, YMCA, Macarena, etc.) so they could get it on the fun. Also, I can't stress it enough: kids have 200% more fun if the adults around them are also Doing the Thing. Yes, you will look stupid. But who cares? It's cheesy, but these are memories these kids will have for the rest of their lives. Look dumb. Do the dance. It means a lot to them.

We planned anticipating 50-60 attendees. Almost 150 people came! So many people were excited about the event, and had we not planned it the day after July 4th, I think our attendance would be even larger. 


This event rocked. The pre-planning we did was great, the advertising we did ahead of time helped spread the word, the volunteers helped it run smoothly, and everyone had a blast. 

It was so popular that I'll be hosting another dance for New Year's for the same audience. Honestly, I'm looking forward to it. This was relatively simple, and what's nice is it can be customized for any event, theme, or library that wants to do it. 

Enjoy some pics!
Building the balloon arch

Side pony ftw!

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