Four months ago, families were enjoying a few days off from school or work, opening gifts or enjoying the holiday light displays around York County.

Renaissance Bridals was selling prom gowns.

"We start selling on Christmas break," owner Jon Smith said. "Is everyone shopping then? No. But if someone has shopped with us before, they want to be the first ones in."

The shop, 315 E. Market St., York, sees its highest volume in March.

Simone's Day Spa & Bridal, 332 E. Middle St., Hanover, has seen the same trend.

"Since early January, even late December they've been coming in," owner Simone Hostetter said. "We've been full steam ahead."

Then, as prom draws closer, the boys come in.

"They don't come in at Christmas break," Smith said with a laugh. "The end of the season is when you see the boys."

Girls, on the other hand, take time to sift through their options.

Sales associate Allie Bohnert, left, helps Gabriella Mead, 16, try on several dresses at Renaissance Bridals before finding the perfect one. Mead is a
Sales associate Allie Bohnert, left, helps Gabriella Mead, 16, try on several dresses at Renaissance Bridals before finding the perfect one. Mead is a sophomore at West York Area High School, which holds its prom May 25. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - PAUL KUEHNEL)
Renaissance Bridals, which has been open in downtown York for 21 years, boasts two floors of prom dresses.

"We're really seeing a return back to what I call old-Hollywood glamour, as opposed to super sexy," Smith said. "We'd been inundated with that before."

Hostetter said she's seeing the same thing at her Hanover shop.

"More and more now, a lot of the girls are paying attention to the strict rules that schools are implementing," she said. "Things are not too low in the front, not too low in the back."

The mermaid shape is one of the hottest silhouettes, and girls are looking at glitter, sequins and sparkles, too. Hostetter has seen a comeback for ball gowns, as well.

At Renaissance Bridals, one full floor is just ball gowns and full skirts, Smith said.

"We've never sold as many full skirts as we have this year," he said. "Girls are returning back to wanting to be pretty, wanting to be glamorous."

Although both Simone's and Renaissance Bridal stock high-end dresses, there are also less expensive options. Simone's opened a second location in November, Se Jolie, at 947 Carlisle St., Hanover. There, last season's dresses are sold at a discount.

While a dress at Simone's normally runs $350 to $700 dollars, a dress at Se Jolie averages $125 to $325.

Renaissance Bridal has also learned to cater to its customers. The shop has extended hours on Sundays just for prom shopping.

"It's a cool testament to downtown York that we're filled with girls who have come from all over," Smith said.

Sales associate Allie Bohnert, left, helps Gabriella Mead, 16, pick out earrings to match her dress April 15 at Renaissance Bridals in York.
Sales associate Allie Bohnert, left, helps Gabriella Mead, 16, pick out earrings to match her dress April 15 at Renaissance Bridals in York. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - PAUL KUEHNEL)

"It's important to know. People are shopping in York."

Here's a look at what high schools across York and Adams counties have planned for their proms:

Bermudian Springs

Where: Holiday Inn and Convention Center, West Manchester Township

When: 5:30 p.m. May 12

Theme: Evening in Greece

Menu: Buffet

Entertainment: Essential DJ, Maryland

Biglerville

Where: Liberty Mountain Resort, Carroll Valley, Adams County

When: April 28

Theme: Light Up the Night

Entertainment: Fireworks and DJ John Zeigler

Central York

Where: Valencia Ballroom, York

When: May 12

Theme: None

Menu: Caesar salad, stuffed chicken marsala with tomato bruschetta, risotto and asparagus, and dark chocolate mousse

Entertainment: Boogie Knights Entertainment

Crispus Attucks Youthbuild Charter School

Where: Valencia Ballroom, York

When: 7 p.

The earrings Gabriella Mead picked out match the dress she chose for prom.
The earrings Gabriella Mead picked out match the dress she chose for prom. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - PAUL KUEHNEL )
m. May 24

Theme: Moment for Life

Menu: TBA

Entertainment: Performances by current students and alumni

Dallastown Area

Where: Eden Resort, Manheim Township, Lancaster County

When: May 26

Theme: None

Menu: A choice between petite filet mignon and baked chicken breast, or stuffed flounder with crabmeat topped with lobster sauce

Entertainment: DJ Charlie Jansen from Crowd Pleasers

Delone Catholic

Where: Martin's Westminster, Westminster, Md.

When: 5 p.m. May 4

Theme: Karma

Menu: TBA

Entertainment: TBA

Dover Area

Where: Wisehaven Banquet and Expo Center, Windsor Township

When: May 26

Theme: Enchanted Evening

Menu: Fresh fruit with dip, tossed salad, stuffed chicken breast or pasta primavera, dessert station

Entertainment: DeLuge DJ Productions

Eastern York

Where: Eden Resort, Manheim Township, Lancaster County

When: May 18

Theme: None

Menu: Starlight Buffet with carved roast top sirloin, meat lasagna or stuffed chicken

Entertainment: DJ Soundwaves

Fairfield

Where: Lodges of Gettysburg, Freedom Township, Adams County

When: May 4

Theme: Under the Stars

Menu: Buffet by the Carriage House

Entertainment: DJ

Gettysburg

Where: Gettysburg Area High School

When: May 5

Theme: An evening in Paris

Menu: Light refreshments

Entertainment: Zeigler DJ services

Hanover

Where: Hanover Country Club, Abbottstown, Adams County

When: May 25

Theme: TBA

Menu: TBA

Entertainment: DJ

Kennard-Dale

Where: Valencia Ballroom, York

When: May 5

Theme: Waking Up in Vegas

Menu: Caesar salad, traditional roast turkey with whipped potatoes, filling and gravy, fresh green beans laced with applewood smoked bacon and cranberry sauce, or a garden pasta with fresh herbs and roasted garlic sauce, death by chocolate cake with raspberry sauce

Entertainment: Party Time DJs with a special guest appearance by "Elvis"

Littlestown

Where: Gettysburg College

When: 7 p.m. May 12

Theme: Make a Splash

Menu: Snacks

Entertainment: DJ

New Oxford

Where: Martin's Westminster, Westminster, Md.

When: 6:30 to 11 p.m. May 25

Theme: Hollywood

Menu: Buffet style. Beef, fried chicken, Italian meatballs, seafood jambalaya with salad bar, fresh vegetables, potatoes and various desserts

Entertainment: Ziegler's Mobile Entertainment

Northern

Where: Holiday Inn Harrisburg East

When: 4:30 to 10 p.m. May 4

Theme: Forever for Tonight

Menu: Buffet

Entertainment: Soundwaves Entertainment

Northeastern

Where: Wisehaven Banquet and Expo Center, Windsor Township

When: 6 to 11 p.m. May 5

Theme: A Walk on the Red Carpet

Menu: Chicken cordon bleu and prime rib

Entertainment: DJ Soundwaves

Red Land

Where: Harrisburg Holiday Inn East

When: May 12

Theme: Laughed Until We Cried

Menu: Appetizers and finger foods

Entertainment: Soundwaves Entertainment

Red Lion Area

Where: Valencia Ballroom, York

When: April 28

Theme: A Night Among the Stars

Menu: Appetizers and desserts

Entertainment: Soundwaves Entertainment; photo booth

South Western

Where: York Expo Center, West Manchester Township

When: 6 to 11 p.m. May 12

Theme: Under the Sea

Menu: Buffet including caesar Salad, three-cheese vegetarian lasagna, stuffed chicken, roasted red skin potatoes, broccoli and dessert

Entertainment: DJ

Spring Grove

Where: Wisehaven Banquet and Expo Center, Windsor Township

When: May 19

Theme: Fire and Ice

Menu: Buffet

Entertainment: DJ Michael Marra

Susquehannock

Where: Wisehaven Banquet and Expo Center, Windsor Township

When: May 5

Theme: Midnight in Paris

Menu: Stuffed chicken, beef medallions or pasta alfredo

Entertainment: Phantom Shadow

West York

Where: Wisehaven Banquet and Expo Center, Windsor Township

When: May 25

Theme: A Parisian Escape

Menu: Grilled chicken breast, New York strip steak or pasta primavera

Entertainment: Music and dancing

William Penn

Where: The Praise Center, Windsor Township

When: May 19

Theme: A Red Carpet Affair

Menu: Beef or chicken option

Entertainment: DJ

York Catholic

Where: Valencia Ballroom, York

When: May 4

Theme: The Time of Your Life

Menu: Vegetable ravioli or stuffed chicken

Entertainment: DJ Vicki

York Country Day School

Where: Country Club of York

When: 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. June 6

Theme: Arabian Nights

Menu: Light snacksEntertainment: DJ

York County School of Technology

Where: The Praise Center, Windsor Township

When: 6 to 10 p.m. May 5

Theme: Fire & Ice

Menu: A choice of chicken, steak or vegetarian

Entertainment: DJ Soundwaves

York Suburban

Where: Valencia Ballroom, York

When: May 19

Theme: Black Tie Affair

Menu: Chicken cordon bleu or vegetable ravioli

Entertainment: Mixed Impressions DJ

771-2090; @sarahEchain

The cost of prom

Prom costs have increased more than one-third over last year, according to a national survey by Visa Inc. American families with teens will spend an average of $1,078 for prom for each child. The average in 2011 was $807 per child.

Regionally, northeastern families planned to spend the most at $1,944, while Midwestern families had the lowest planned average at $696. Parents are shouldering most of the burden, too, paying for 61 percent of prom costs. Teens planned to cover the remaining 39 percent, the survey said.

Here's how readers reacted on YDR's Facebook page:

York Daily Record/Sunday News: A Visa Inc. survey is showing families with teens expect to spend an average of $1,078 on prom this year -- for each child! Are you planning to spend that much?

Lindsay Coulson Grady: Absolutely ridiculous.

Karen Kreeger: are people crazy?

Amy Barshinger: That is beyond ridiculous.

Doris Golden: Bought my daughter a beautiful dress at JC Penny's for $40.00! People are crazy for spending hundreds of dollars for one night!

Anne Fonda: Even if I had that kind of money to blow, I'd spend it on something else. Family vacation, flying to see relatives, maybe. Shows what some parents are teaching their kids.

Clinton Gottsch: If this is true, it just proves what I've suspected for a long time: The average family is stupid. . . .

Dana Matson: Wow. That is completely insane. I would never ever spend that much for a school dance. Ever. I would rather teach my child the value of a dollar and teach her how to make money stretch and the importance of a budget!

Kristin Carl Shaffer: I am thinking that the credit card companies release things like this to make the average household FEEL like they NEED to spend this much in order to "keep up with the Jones')"

Linda Chenoweth Harlow: Outrageous! Never had children so we never had to deal with this me me me attitude.

Clinton Gottsch: @Kristin, that's probably right on. Or they take their sample to get their average from Newport Beach and the Hamptons.

Angie Adkins: Ridiculous

Jess Yaden: If a kid is old enough to go to prom, they're old enough to have a job.

Jennifer M Bragg: Hell no! However, between the dress, the tux, the nails and hair and the tickets, it will be $500. I find THAT ridiculous.

Ashley Fleshman: where was this survey taken? beverley hills? nyc?

Apps for prom

From picking the perfect dress to editing your pictures, there is an app to help with every aspect of prom.

Here are the top prom apps from Molly McLaughlin, mobile technology editor at ConsumerSearch.com.

Prom Hairstyles (free, iPhone)

--- The app allows the user to try different hairstyles on a photograph of herself. After finding your favorite style you can save a picture, bring it to your hairdresser and share it on Facebook.

iProm dress: Prom Dress Shopping Assistant ($1.99, iPhone)

--- This personal shopping app allows users to browse styles and save favorites in an alphabetized catalog of dresses by designer, color, neckline or other feature. You can narrow down your selections before you hit the store and share your dress picks on Facebook.

Ask2Dance ($1.99, iPhone)

--- If you find yourself at the prom wanting to ask someone to dance but not sure how to make the approach, Ask2Dance can help. It offers topics to talk about when you ask that special someone to dance.

Camera360 (Free, iPhone and Android)

The dance floor may be a little too dark for a photo op, but if you have the Camera360 app you can snap the picture, then brighten it from your phone. This app lets users edit and apply special effects to their photos on the go.

-- Los Angeles Times