I recently watched an episode of the Junk Gypsies, featuring their Junk-O-Rama Prom. PROM! The old dance hall venue was decorated with awesomely kitschy junk, and they got to wear thrift store prom gowns, and they had a live band! I AM IN LOVE. So here was my immediate thought process:
- Gee, I want to go to Antiques Week and Junk-O-Rama Prom.
- Now I want to throw a prom party like that.
- then. . . HEY! I HAVE A DAUGHTER TURNING 16!!! TIME TO THROW OUR OWN BIRTHDAY PROM!!!!!
(I promise to tone down the ALL-CAPS and !!!! from here on out. I was just super-excited.) :)
Soooo, we decided to throw my birthday girl, Lizz (aka Monkey 3) a surprise Sweet 16 party, thrown in our 20' x 40' empty barn. This is what we had to work with:
inside the barn
This bright idea gave us just a couple of weeks for planning, crafting, sewing, building and painting -- and only in 2-hour-per-day spurts! My birthday girl works a part-time job, and only worked 3 hours a day, M-F, so that was the only time we could work on our secret plans. That time constraint was the hardest challenge of this crazy plan!
The DECOR. . . .
Since my husband had just started his new job, we were on an extremely tight, paper-thin budget for the party -- about $150 for everything non-food related. We started with materials we already had -- vintage fabrics, linens, scarves, aprons, tablecloths, paint, vintage tchotchkes, and some found items around our property. The trick was to just imagine using them in a new, unique way!
I sewed vintage sheets together, end-to-end, with a wide, loose stitch (so they'd safely and easily come apart after the party) and we used them to soften the ceiling, pinning them to the metal barn rafters with clothes pins. . .
We found an old wooden headboard found in one of our sheds, so we transformed that into a simple bench with some old chair legs for the front legs, scrap wood for the seating, and thrifted vintage fabric for the cover. . .
the bench, behind Monkey 1
An old cast iron bath tub (left by the previous home owners, which I believe was used as a horse watering trough) became a perfect stash for ice cold drinks once the boys scrubbed it clean!
once cleaned and full of ice, soft drinks and mexican sodas,
this was our Littlest Monkey's favorite hangout
A cracked canoe (also left by the previous home owners) became fun seating when filled with funky pillows I made from thrifted still-new-in-the-package pillow forms, stash fabrics, and rolled-up bulky comforters (for filling large cushions). . . .
We also wanted a simple photo booth, so we made one out of an old door, some star-shaped twinkle lights, and vintage sheets. . . .
We also kept our eyes open for free curbside junk, like old fence panels, busted chairs, and even tumbleweeds. . . .
tumbleweed chandelier -- yes, please!
(and this is some of my hard-working last-minute decorating crew! they are awesome!!)
junked fence panels made a perfect rustic sign
(this photo (and the next one) were taken the next morning, while surveying the aftermath)
thrift store frames and b&w photos of the birthday girl decked out this fence panel
the old fence panels also made great dividers,
plus a surface for hanging more photos and junk!
(look! another tumbleweed, filling an empty corner)
Now, THE DRESSES!
$50 for all 5 dresses!
that awkward time where you're waiting for someone -- anyone -- to start the dancing.
The PARTY. . . .
My daughter was completely and TOTALLY surprised! Actually speechless! My mom and sister had purchased a gorgeous dress for her ahead of time, and it fit her perfectly, so she even had a special prom dress to wear! She smiled all night. . . .
And once the kids started dancing. . . .
. . . there was no stopping them 'til around midnight or so. (when all the adults started falling asleep. Hey. It was a long, tiring drive for most of the guests, and a very late night for me the night before! I'm not as young as I once was....) ;)
The most important thing. . . .
While a funky, quirky barn prom isn't for everyone (and probably not for most 16 year-olds!) it was a night perfectly suited to my sweet, artistic, amazing birthday girl, Elizabeth. To remind her of how special she is, and how much we love her. And it was definitely a night we will all treasure.
(Many thanks to my family members that remembered to take photos, and let me use them here, since I forgot to take a single one. Love you!)