Remember how there was just nothing like a high school dance? That feeling of excitement that came with a reason to dress up and party with your peers?

What was once a fun activity for young people is now a nostalgic (and still fun) walk down memory lane for adults. What makes this theme such a great option for such a wide variety of groups and occasions is that it is so versatile. You can adapt it to whatever theme you like. There are two primary holiday school dance types.

A casual holiday school dance typically has minimal decorations, finger foods, and either live music or a DJ. There is no formal dress requirement. Guests may be given bracelets or name tags at the door and guests may vote on a king and queen for the event.

A formal holiday school dance is a much more elaborate, fancy affair. The dress code is formal and guests may be given corsages at the door to keep with the formal school dance tradition. This formal dance can take several forms. A ball is a elegant and usually calls for the men to wear tuxedos and the women to wear very formal, floor length dresses, although fashion trends do allow for some ultra formal dresses in shorter lengths. A dinner dance is a formal affair that is both a dance and a sit down dinner.

Mood and Venue:

The mood will vary depending on the type of dance you have. A casual dance will be more relaxed while a formal dance will be a little more sophisticated. The mood is also directly influenced by the décor as well as the type of food served and the way that it is served. For instance, finger foods and appetizers evoke a more casual atmosphere while a sit down dinner calls for something more refined and formal.

Potential venues for a holiday school dance include:

  • A school gymnasium
  • A hotel ballroom or conference room
  • A church fellowship hall
  • A reception hall
  • The office
  • A restaurant or bar


Invitations should be tailored to the theme and mood of the dance. You can create them in Word or PowerPoint and save them as a jpg or pdf which can be easily sent via email. However, you may want to include the invitation in your company newsletter, website, or send it via text, so you want a file format that supports that – typically a jpg. A few invitation ideas include:

  • Casual – Something simple and fun, maybe include a graphic of a couple dancing under the mistletoe. You want it to have a school dance feel so don’t go too high tech. Keep it simple. (easy)
  • Formal – You can get a little fancier with this type of dance. Shimmering snowflakes, a couple dressed for a ball, and an elegant (but readable) font will set the mood for this event. (easy)

Make sure that you include all pertinent details in your invitations:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • Dress
  • Theme
  • RSVP information


Decorations for a holiday school dance depend on three things: budget, venue, and theme. A formal dance calls for more decorations than a casual dance and a storybook theme may require something more precise and obscure. Some ideas for holiday school dance décor include:

  • Keep is simple with handmade posters and festive crepe paper streamers. Add some balloons to each table as a centerpiece. (easy, $)
  • Arrange a buffet style menu along one wall and use greenery like holly, for accents. Hang a few sprigs of mistletoe in some unexpected places, but definitely in at least one doorway. Decorate the tables with tablecloths and use candles as centerpieces. (moderate level difficulty, $$)
  • Set up an area for photos with props like a sleigh or winter wonderland theme. Arrange several Christmas trees throughout the venue and fill fish bowls with glass ornaments and tinsel for the centerpieces. Place a flameless candle in each bowl and arrange the balls and tinsel around it so that the centerpiece is illuminated. (moderate decorating skill, $$$)


Food is usually the focal point for just about any gathering and a holiday school dance is no exception. The menu that you choose should be tailored to the mood or theme that you have chosen. Some menu ideas include:

  • Finger Foods and Appetizers – Foods that are easy to eat while standing, like finger sandwiches, Swedish meatballs, veggies and dip, fresh fruit, and easily handles desserts like brownies and mini pies.
  • Traditional Holiday Dinner – A full traditional holiday spread might include roast turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, candied yams, and other traditional fare.
  • Period Specific Menu – This will require some research but stay true to the era. For instance, a Dickens Christmas, you may include roast duck and other foods specific to the time.
  • Dessert Bar – Pies, cakes, a chocolate fountain, and ice cream bar are just a few of the ideas for this menu. The possibilities are endless.


The primary entertainment for any dance is the music. However, you can weave other fun activities into the event as well.

  • Live Music ($$$)
  • DJ ($$)
  • Karaoke ($$$)