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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: In response to "Penniless for the Prom": I am a junior in high school and am on the prom commission. Our school budgets for this kind of problem. "Penniless" should talk to the prom adviser (usually one of the teachers) because a reduced ticket price is available for those who cannot afford it. The money saved on tickets can then be spent on other necessities -- like a tux. Also, get your group to go to someone's house and prepare dinner instead of eating out, and car-pool instead of using expensive transportation. -- READY FOR THE PROM, SANTA ANA, CALIF.

DEAR READY FOR THE PROM: I'm sure that "Penniless" will appreciate your helpful hints -- as will other high school students in the same boat. Many other generous readers took the time to send their suggestions. Read on for more:

DEAR ABBY: I thought you'd enjoy knowing how we spent prom night at our home:

Our daughter, a junior, wanted to attend the prom this year. She didn't want a date, but preferred to go with a group of friends. Seven of them got together and paid for their own tickets, which were a reasonable $10 each. They each contributed another $10, which paid for their dinner and flowers.

That morning a friend taught us how to make corsages and they turned out beautifully. We took the extra flowers and made three beautiful floral arrangements for the dining table. Other mothers helped in different ways to make the evening special. A close friend who's a college senior served as the waiter for the evening. We made a wonderful Italian meal, and tried to stay out of the kids' way.

It was a fantastic night for everyone. They are already planning to do the same thing next year. What great memories we have, and no one went broke in the process! -- JUDY AND ALAN PANNELL, FERNLEY, NEV.

DEAR ABBY: If a high school boy wants to take a girl to the prom and needs money, please tell him to earn it. He could knock on neighbors' doors and offer to do yard work, clean windows, wash cars, walk or groom dogs, etc. I did this with a friend in 1974, and I earned enough in one weekend. -- GARY NAJARIAN, SCITUATE, MASS.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 17-year-old girl who just attended my first prom at another school. I was appalled by the fact that tickets cost $95. (At my school they cost $10 a couple and seniors go free.)

My advice to "Penniless" is: If you need extra money, call some local business and explain your dilemma. Many plant nurseries are very busy during the spring and could probably use an extra hand for a couple of Saturdays before the prom.

I would also advise making some adjustments to prom night: Instead of renting a limousine, clean up your -- or your parents' -- car for the big night. Call restaurants around town and ask if they have a set menu. (They usually give you a choice of two dishes and everyone makes their selection in advance.) The set menu is usually much cheaper, and you are spared the embarrassment of not having enough money to pay the bill. To save gas money, ask another couple to ride with you and split the cost of the fuel.

If you still can't afford it, ask the girl and explain your dilemma. I'm sure she'll be excited and willing to share the cost -- but still as "more than friends." (I know I would.)

I hope this is helpful. Don't skip your senior prom. It's something you will never forget. -- GINNY SMITH, LAKE CHARLES, LA.

DEAR GINNY AND THE MANY READERS WHO OFFERED THEIR PROM NIGHT SUGGESTIONS: Prom night has evolved into an end-of-the-year bash for many high school students and their parents, and it's not unheard-of for kids to drop hundreds of dollars on limousines, hotel rooms for all-night after-prom parties, and other expensive items. It's refreshing to see that with a little ingenuity and cooperation among friends, it's still possible to have a memorable night without breaking the bank.

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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