Slideshow: 12 Tips for a Stress-Free Prom

  • teens posing in prom garb

    Shine a Light on Prom Hype

    Getting jitters about prom is normal. But full-on stress can lead to bad choices, emotional eating, or drama with your friends -- even before prom night arrives.

    Prom Facts: Having rigid ideas about the "perfect prom" sets you up for stress. So bad hair? Lost flowers? They're passing concerns -- especially compared to sharing the night with friends. And the truth is, prom's just one of many parties to come in your life.

  • boy asking girl to the prom

    Pop the Question Without Exploding

    Don't pin your happiness on one "dream date." Pick someone fun, then practice how you'll ask -- and how to react to various answers. Take a walk or shoot hoops first to calm your nerves, and have a fun back-up plan ready, like going with friends. Remember: "yes" or "no," you're still a great person and a bold one, too.

    Need to say "no?" Thank the asker, say you're flattered -- then just say you've made other plans.

  • prom table with glass of water

    Explore the Wonders of Water

    Staying hydrated in the days before prom keeps you feeling good and energized. As a bonus, it makes your skin look fresh.

    If your party lasts until dawn, keep refilling your water bottle to avoid the dehydration and fatigue that can lead to ugly, 3 a.m. meltdowns.

  • teens partying together

    Throw a 'Practice' Prom

    Does the idea of dancing in front of your date -- or anyone -- make you cringe? Here's one big reason to get out on the floor: dancing is a great way to settle your nerves.

    Talk with your date and friends before prom to see how they feel about dancing. Are they nervous too? Invite them to your house for an afternoon dance party, where everyone can try different moves and have fun. You and your friends might consider taking a dance class to get you some moves and confidence.

  • teen girl prom dress shopping

    Shop Your Shape

    The best dress is one you’ll be comfortable in -- walking, dancing, sitting -- for hours. Feeling exposed, or hitching it up all the time, will only make you tense. Try on these styles if you’re:

    Short: Shorter, slim skirts

    Small-chested: A neckline with dazzle or ruffles, or a full skirt

    Pear-shaped: A raised or "empire" waist and flowing skirt

    Full figure: Snug on top but flowing through the skirt, or topped with a glittery wrap

  • teen eating cereal

    Eat for Energy, Skip the Crazy Diet

    Worried about slimming down for prom? Don't try a last-minute crash diet. If you eat nothing but grapefruit for days, you'll spend the night feeling weak, fainting, or battling a case of gas (gross!). Two slimming tips to adopt for life:

    • Always eat breakfast, so hunger pangs and fatigue don't cause you to overeat later.
    • Cut out all sugary sodas, teas, and juices. This single change can melt a pound a week.
  • girl applying tanning lotion

    Go for Gold, but Tan Safely

    Skip the tanning bed or roasting in the sun. It can cause breakouts and dull, flaky skin on prom night. And looking tan for one night isn’t worth the wrinkles later. Cheaper, safer ways to glow:

    • Use a self-tanning lotion. Test the shade a week before prom. Shave or loofah before you apply, and keep it off your feet.
    • Drink plenty of water, exercise at least a half hour a day, and increase your fruits and veggies.
  • teen flipping out empty pockets

    Talk Money Before Prom

    Feeling strapped for cash for a dress, limo, and dinner? Sit down with your date or friends to discuss costs -- and cheaper options. Some ideas:

    • Try a dress swap with friends or a vintage store. Or borrow a tux from an older brother.
    • Eat dinner at a house, using china and candles, or have a foodie relative pack a fabulous picnic basket.
    • Have a trusted adult chauffeur a decorated SUV.
  • teens laughing at prom

    Take Little Breaks to Laugh

    Laughter may be the easiest way to ease stress. So find ways to keep the night from getting too serious. Make a deal with a friend to exchange funny looks, or put your funniest photo or ringtone on your phone.

    If you start to feel stressed, excuse yourself to the restroom. Take a deep breath from your stomach, hold it for five seconds, slowly exhale. Then look at your pic and have a laugh.

  • girl looking at reflection in mirror

    Protect Your Image With a Plan

    What will people say about you on the Monday after prom? Were you the one in the bathroom sulking or throwing up -- or were you the person who had fun dancing with friends -- and maybe even helped those people whose nights went wrong?

    Now, make your goals public: tell your friends, and have them do the same for you, so you can look out for each other.

  • girl at prom on cell phone

    Put Your Lifeline on Speed Dial

    Practice how you'll react to friends or your date if they offer you alcohol, drugs, or sexual advances. It's cool to say "no." You don’t need any of these to have a good time.

    Give yourself a way out if prom night goes sour. Ask a friend to pick up the phone if you call -- your brother, sister, cousin, dad, or anyone you can count on. That way you can get a ride home, or just a reality check, at any hour.

  • girl looking at photo album

    Ask to See Dad’s Prom Picture

    After you stop laughing at the outfits and bad hair, you might learn from your parents' best (and worst) memories. Ask them about their prom nights. They probably didn’t marry their prom dates. How did they handle the things that didn't go as planned? What would they change with a do-over of their own prom -- the answers may surprise you.

additional slideshows