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Prom Dinner

If your daughter saved money on her dress, maybe you won't mind if she and her date splurge on a four-course meal at a five-star restaurant. Besides, it's the guy who usually picks up the tab, right? Well even if your daughter isn't expected to pay, that doesn't mean you can't offer alternatives so the young man doesn't break the bank. Aside from not wanting him to go broke, there are other benefits that have much more to do with your daughter. Whenever a young man spends lavishly on a date, it can create a situation in which the girl feels guilty about his generosity. She may think she owes him something in return. Or, he may intentionally manipulate her into believing she has to provide some form of payback, be it another date, a kiss or a favor. In healthy dating relationships, each individual shares power and no one is forced to feel obligated to the other. Let your teen know that she doesn't have to do anything just because a date spends lots of money or goes to extravagant lengths. He shouldn't use his choices to make her feel guilty.

On prom night, the dinner is one of the biggest highlights for most teens. Dressed to the nines, it's natural for them to want to enjoy a dining experience that is as fine as their fashions. For some, that means making reservations at restaurants where formal attire is expected, if not required. Those upscale eateries also require big wallets. That's not necessarily a bad thing, if kids keep things realistic. But sometimes, the fancier things get because of the money being spent, the more pressure kids feel to have a perfect experience. And because perfection is elusive, this often sets young people up for disappointment. To alleviate some of the stress and expense kids face on prom night, consider dining alternatives that require smaller budgets but are just as fun and rewarding. Here is one option that parents and teens have experimented with. It may appeal to your family, too. At the very least, it's a reminder that fine dining doesn't have to cost teens a fortune.

Gourmet Meals Dished Up at Home

If your daughter is going with a group of friends, offer to host a pre-prom dinner at your home or another parent's home. Ask the other parents if they would like to help you prepare a special meal. You can get creative by having a theme or an elaborate table setting. There can be music, special appetizers, and exotic non-alcoholic beverages. The meal can be as fancy (grilled steak or smoked fish) or fun (nachos and pizza) as the kids want. Whatever the meal, it's likely to be less expensive and more filling than restaurant fare.

This dining option works best when parents stay mostly out of sight. They should pre-occupy themselves in the kitchen, giving the kids their own space to eat, drink and be merry. Teens we talked to say they loved the home cooking, but what they really appreciated was the ease and comfort they felt. Most agreed it was more relaxing than sitting in a stuffy restaurant getting stared at by strangers. Even if this suggestion isn't appetizing to you or your teen, maybe it will spark a debate in your family on how to avoid unnecessary expenses or excessive spending on prom night.