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Katy Mums Bring the Lights, Sounds, and Bling to the Homecoming Tradition


August 28, 2023

By Natalie Cook Clark

Along with football season comes the days where Katy newcomers are baffled by our Texas-sized mums. It may be strange to newcomers learning the tradition, but the ribbons and bells have become as symbolic of the homecoming festivities as football.

Mums Grow in Size and Creativity

Welcome to Homecoming Season Katy! This is a time of tradition and celebration amongst the nine Katy ISD high schools; the students, staff, and alumni. Perhaps one of the most recognizable symbols of the festivities are the mums and garters. These large collections of ribbons and trinkets can often times be a shock to Katy newcomers.

“So many people are taking their Creativity and Individuality on a whole new level, which in turn makes things bigger and better,” says Sterling Greene, owner of Sterling’s Homecoming Mums and Garters. “There are now endless possibilities of making a beautiful mum creation.”

Photo credit: Stephanie White

It’s the love for this tradition and creativity that keeps bringing volunteers together, as most of the Katy ISD bands use their mum shops for fundraising. For over twenty years, the Katy High School Band has been selling mums and garters.

“I like crafting,” says Stephanie White, a second-year volunteer for the Katy High School Mum Shop and a tiger mom. “I love seeing what we come up with.”

Girls wear mums and boys wear garters (though this has seen some changes lately) to school the Friday of their school’s Homecoming and then also to the football game that night. The tradition dates back to the very first homecoming held at Katy High School when a mum was a simple flower to now when mums and garters are made of silk flowers and have evolved into a spectacle of trinkets and bling.

“A lot of freshman and newcomers ask questions about the mums,” says White. “They always want to know about the etiquette.”

Mum, Garter Rules to Know

While mums and garter designs continue to get bigger and more intricate, there are certain rules that remain.

  • Freshman and Sophomores are decorated with school colors

  • Juniors are decorated in silver and white

  • Seniors are decorated in gold and white, though some senior ladies have opted for rose gold as a trend lately

  • Colors can be mixed to indicate the grade level of a date

  • School colors are mixed when dates attend other schools

  • Girls may wear two mums if one represents a performance group like drill team

As the mums get bigger, students have had to work to accommodate the weight. In recent years, decorated overalls have become nearly as spirited as the mums. Girls use overall straps to help hold up the weight of their over-sized mums. To accommodate the size and weight some mums now are worn over the neck like a necklace rather than pinned.

Photo credit: Meredith Lanning

The More Unique, the Better

“No one wants their mum to look like anyone else’s and that is exactly what I strive to do when I create,” says Greene.

The more unique, the better and Katy students understand creativity!

Meredith Lanning is over the Tompkins High School Band Mum Shop and enjoys meeting with the students and helping them design a mum or garter that truly represents them.

“Custom cuts have become the new thing,” says Lanning Easier to customize on the fly vs buy in bulk. She says one of her favorites was when she customized a jeep at the center of a senior’s garter.

Stephanie White says that the Katy High School band shop customizes their mums and garters with customized outfits for their plush tigers.

Photo credit: Sterling Greene

“I was asked to make a Harry Potter themed garter,” says Greene. “I have been asked to add a memorial of a guy’s dog who had passed. I have been asked to add different country flags, because the recipient was from another country. I was recently asked to add a pickle to a mum, because she LOVES pickles.”

Long gone are the days where only those students with homecoming dates get mums and garters.

“I feel it is more about school spirit and creating a “memory board” if you will that can be hung on the teenagers wall through high school,” says Lanning.

Alone with wanting to understand all the “rules,” Katy families are always asking about the cost. According to a poll of designers and shops, Katy Magazine found that the cheapest garters start at $45 while mums can start as low at $50. However, as the creativity and design skill goes up, so does that price tag.

Sterling Greene has created mums as expensive as $500.

Photo credit: Stephanie White

Homecoming is a fun time for the community to come out and enjoy the traditions including, watching the parade of mums and garters students wear at the football game.

Over the years, the jingles and in some cases music box sounds from mums and garters have become just as traditional as school cheers at football games.


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