Every spring, a monumental social occasion for millions of teenagers across the country comes in the form of beautiful dresses, a fancy dinner, riding in limousines or driving Dad’s old Nova, dancing, and making memories with friends. Prom is a time for firsts. First slow dance, first big night out with your peers, first ultra-formal event. And just like every girl needs the perfect dress, every prom deserves the perfect theme. You can literally transform your school or other venue into another world with creatively designed props, scenery, favors, and decorations that will transport your guests to a winter wonderland or a castle in the sky. If you haven’t already started thinking about your 2013 prom theme, this collection of inspiration will have you turning your grand march into an all-out parade of fabulous¬† fashions.

Among the thousands of possibilities, I’ve narrowed the list down to four general categories. Within each category are examples that range from traditional and classy to completely out of the box. You’ll have to gauge your school, town, and student body to determine which themes will work for you and which are likely to flop!

1.) Cities and Countries

Ah Paris, la ville de l’amour et de la mode. The brilliance of the Eiffel Tower are more than enough to convince any prom-goer to choose Paris as a suitable theme. Think about the dimly lit lamp posts and cobblestone paths lined with gardens of beautiful flowers and tiny tables. On a scale of 1 to 10, this an 11 on the traditional spectrum, but it also gets an 11 for being classic and elegant.

What happens at the Vegas-themed prom, stays at the Vegas-themed prom, right? Now this is something you can really have fun with. In addition to giant cards and dice, bright gold and rich red colors, and flashing lights, why not have an Elvis impersonator show up? If your venue allows it, you can easily set up card tables or host games for prizes much like a casino. Still traditional, but you’ve got to ramp up the fun factor somehow.

Alright brace yourselves for this next one…Candyland. Sure, it’s not technically a city or a country, but I definitely want to visit there someday. Candyland themes are somewhat of a new idea that really take bright colors and game playing to a whole other level. Imagine giant lollipops and balloons of every hue. Imagine a candy buffet complete with mountains of fluffy cotton candy and enough sugar to keep you up all night. Perhaps the easiest to accommodate, with its G-rated atmosphere and endless color combinations, this won’t be your average prom!

Runners up: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Arabian nights, Hollywood, NYC, Asian-inspired themes

2.) Landscapes

It seems like no school is without at least one Under The Sea dance with shiny blue accents, silver balloons, and maybe even a sunken ship or treasure. This is another classic that can be fun and funky or remain totally traditional. You’re likely to see a lot of mermaid style gowns, for obvious reasons, at an ocean-themed prom. Play with the props and favors to keep it fresh. Low lighting bouncing off of glittering decorations will give the illusion of actually being underwater!

Now a Tropical Island theme is something I could really get behind. Step out of the water and onto the sand with some palm trees, steel drum music, the smell of coconuts, and a light and airy atmosphere that is both carefree and fun. Aqua, lime green, and bright orange should be your primary colors for this theme. Decorations will not be hard to find and favors will not be hard to come up with.

With all the hype and popularity surrounding animal prints this season, why wouldn’t you consider a jungle-themed prom? It’s a little on the silly side, but with the right planning and decorations, you could totally transform your gymnasium into a rain forest of sorts. Emerald is a hot color this year, so imagine covering everything in different hues of green. Maybe a waterfall. Balloon animals? I think so. Zebra and cheetah print as far as the eyes can see. It may not be conventional, but it will be memorable!

Runners up: Enchanted forest, Anything to do with stars, Winter wonderland, Dude ranch or western style themes, Heaven on earth

3.) Time periods and events

Gold, purple, and green abound when you go for the traditional Mardi Gras madness themed prom. I love a costume party, and anytime there are beads being exchanged and masks being worn, I’m there. This pick is so unwavering, there are about one hundred different websites that offer full scenarios to set up at your venue. Channel the allure and mystery of New Orleans by including feathers, boas, magic, and twinkling lights into your presentation.

You can have a 1950′s style prom without wearing the poodle skirts and saddle shoes! Think about an old diner or drive-in with black and white tile floors, vinyl records playing in the jukebox, and classic hot rods. You can turn your venue into a sock hop with the right music, so stick to the likes of Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, and Frank Sinatra. The fun and fabulous fifties can provide a great twist (Ha! See what I did there?) on the classic decade-themed prom.

Speaking of music, dubstep is a somewhat new genre in the United States that worked its way here from the hard hitting bass systems of jolly ol’ England. I can’t think of a better way to pair electronic dance music and teenagers than a Future-themed prom. Glow sticks, glow sticks everywhere! One really cool tip involving glow sticks; place them in balloons. Black lights, neon colors, and glitter everywhere. If you’re looking for something totally off-beat, set the DeLorean’s dials to the future.

Runners up: 1980′s, The “roaring twenties,” Luau, Red carpet event, Fiesta

4.) Songs and movies

The unsinkable Titanic, ah, how romantic it must have been. My Heart Will Go On is a great song prom theme that will convey both elegance and royalty. When I think of the Titanic, I can’t help but think of that scene with the grand staircase and glistening chandeliers. If you’ve chosen a venue equal in grandeur, consider this theme for your prom. There are plenty of decorations out there to help you channel The Ship of Dreams. Toss around the idea of an imitation moon hanging high in the sky, tall pillars, and (again) underwater-type decor.

Diamonds Are Forever. Sounds like a jewelry store advertisement, but it’s actually both a song and a movie! Think about all of the opportunities to bring the bling to your prom venue with a theme like this. In the James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever, Bond is on the trail of a Las Vegas diamond thief, so you could certainly go in the secret agent direction as well. Very classy, very sparkly, very fun.

I’m dying to see a Hot and Cold prom theme. Similar to a fire and ice campaign, imagine half of the grand march in fiery red with the other half in shiny blues and silvers. Set it up with icicle lights and burning (or fake) candles. Send it over the top with an ice sculpture and fire breathers! Pulling this all together will be a challenge, but with a little creativity this could be a really neat idea.

We fight we break up, we kiss we make up….Yeah, sounds like high school to me.

Runners up: Forever young, Casablanca, Twilight, Cinderella and other princess themes, Grease, Somewhere over the rainbow

Bizarre alternatives: Haunted mansion, Circus, Pirates,  World of Warcraft, Communism, Prom-A-Saurus


Now tell us what you think! What was your prom theme? Ever been to a prom with a weird theme? Have any other categories to add?