How to Decorate a Gym for a Prom

by Gina Scott
Using balloons is a cost-effective way to decorate a gym for prom.

Using balloons is a cost-effective way to decorate a gym for prom.

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Years ago it was common for high schools to have their proms in the gymnasium. Since then, some schools choose to rent out halls in hotels or country clubs. Hosting the dance in the gym is still a tradition for many schools, however, and is a cost-effective way for students to celebrate this milestone in their lives. You may think that it's too challenging to decorate a gym appropriately for the prom, but that's not the case. A few simple changes can transform the high school gym into another world.

Items you will need

  • Helium-filled balloons
  • Streamers
  • Fabric
  • Hammers and nails
  • Long tables
  • Table skirts
  • Small wading pools
  • Floating candles
  • Rented fountain
  • Red outdoor carpeting
  • Balloon arch for entrance
  • Themed centerpieces for tables
  • Decorative beads
  • Sand
  • Beach balls
  • Surfboard
  • Lifeguard chair
Step 1

Gather supplies to decorate the gym based on the prom's theme. Most proms have a message based on a popular song or saying. The spirit of the theme gives you a great place to start when buying decorative supplies. For example, if your prom is called "Where the Stars Align," then decorate with twinkle Christmas lights and cut-out stars hanging from the ceiling and walls. For water-themed proms, small wading pools with floating lit candles or a rented fountain both add a romantic ambiance.

Step 2

Drape fabric around the main entrance of the gym to make your guests feel like they are walking into another world. Regardless of your prom's theme, make the entrance grand by attaching yards of fabric around the doors in a curtain-like effect. Add elements of your theme once the fabric is in place, such as mermaid and marine life cut-outs for a nautical theme. Outdoor carpeting can be added in a red shade to create a red carpet effect as well. If you're using an environmental theme, a green carpet is a fun spin. Alternatively, a balloon arch always makes a great entrance.

Step 3

Blow up helium balloons and let them settle at the gym ceiling. Because gym's have great height to them, make the ambiance more cozy by lowering the ceiling. Balloons and string are inexpensive if you buy them in bulk and blow the balloons up yourself, so use as many as you can afford to in order to create this effect. Stick with one or two colors that represent your prom's theme.

Step 4

Set up tables for food and music. Two critical elements of a prom are the menu and song selection. Give both adequate room to spread out by providing tables decorated with skirts and room for all of the necessary equipment. Further accent the stations with streamers and elements of the prom's theme. For example, if you're using a winter wonderland theme, string snowflakes along the perimeter of the tables. Add centerpieces to the student tables that complement the theme of your prom. For a city theme, cut-outs of a city skyline are a solid choice. To promote a beach feel, paper palm trees add life to the table. Beads make a colorful and inexpensive centerpiece for Mardi Gras proms.

Step 5

Arrange a picture-taking area and have a professional photographer on hand. Decorate a corner of the gym following the atmosphere of your prom. If you have a summer theme, bring in a small amount of sand and beach balls. Also add other beach elements such as a surfboard or lifeguard chair. Since social networking has gained popularity, most teenagers love to take pictures of themselves and put them online, so give them the opportunity to take their own pictures if your photographer agrees. If you have enough space, consider setting up a separate, more casual, photo area for personal photos.

Tips & Warnings

  • Embrace that the prom is in a gym rather than hiding it. Use the scoreboard to state the prom's theme or have the concession stand open to serve punch and snacks.

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Gina Scott has been writing professionally since 2008. She has worked in real estate since 2004 and has expertise in pop culture and health-related topics. She has also self-published a book on how to overcome chronic health conditions. Scott holds a Master of Arts in higher-education administration from Ball State University.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images