Homecoming: History and Dress Etiquette

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Most people have a very specific vision pop into their head when they think “Homecoming”. Flowers, dresses, dances, connection. 

Homecoming, which takes place every fall, is a very important high school event. Although traditions may vary by school, it is typically defined by a football game followed by a semi-formal dance. There may even be a parade or a school spirit week in conjunction with the occasion. Some schools may also use it as a time to welcome back alumni for a special dinner or reunion. During high school homecoming, there are special rules of etiquette students should follow.

Homecoming began at colleges as a celebration for the first football game of the season, where alumni would come back to visit their former campuses. While no one is positive which college officially started the tradition, the University of Missouri, Baylor University, and the University of Illinois all claim to have begun hosting homecoming events in 1911, 1909, and 1910, respectively. No matter who started it, the tradition spread quickly to other colleges and high schools around the country and has become the fun-filled occasion it is today.

What are some homecoming traditions?

  • The Pep Rally. 
  • Spirit Week.
  • Competitions.
  • Pranks.
  • Talent Show.
  • Parade.
  • Tailgating.
  • Football Game


Most homecoming dances are semi-formal, although each school will specify its own dress code. For a semi-formal event, girls should wear cocktail dresses (usually cut at the knee) and boys should wear a suit with a tie. Tuxedos and long dresses should be avoided, unless the school specifically says the dance is formal.


According to tradition, the boy is to buy a corsage for his homecoming date. The couple can go to the floral shop together to select a corsage to match her dress color and style. Homecoming corsages are often made of sweetheart roses, miniature carnations or alstromeria lilies and adorned with ribbons, pearls or rhinestones. The boy should present the corsage to his date when he picks her up for the dance. Corsages are to be worn on the left shoulder or wrist. Wrist corsages are most commonly worn for homecoming dances. They can be attached to beaded bracelets that can also be worn long after the flowers are gone.


Proper etiquette dictates that the girl buys a boutonniere for her date. Boutonnieres are one or two blossoms of flowers to be worn on the left lapel of his jacket. The girl pins the boutonniere on her date’s jacket when he arrives to pick her up for the dance. Pin the boutonniere with the stem facing down. The corsage and boutonniere can be ordered at the same time so the florist may coordinate them for the couple. The boutonniere should match the color of the couple’s attire if possible.

Floral Accessories

Floral hair pieces, rings, and necklaces can be worn in addition to, or as an alternative to, traditional corsages. A few blossoms tucked into your hair add a special touch for a special night. Football mum corsages are also traditionally worn to the football game preceding the homecoming dance. They are designed in the school’s colors to show school spirit.


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