How NOT to host a teenage party

Margie* is a sensible, responsible mum of two teenagers. In this article, she shares her experience of hosting a teenage party that quickly went out of control, an experience she refers to as her ‘epic fail’. From the posting of details on Facebook through to trashed neighbours’ yards and the arrival of the police, this is compelling reading for any parent.

Thinking of hosting a teenager’s party? Read this first.

How Not To Host a Party

Photo by Linzi-Maia Clark

This is my personal experience of an out-of-control party. I have a 17-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter. At the time of these events my son was 16. I consider that my husband and I are intelligent, responsible parents – but we made some BIG mistakes. My son and I are jointly responsible for the events described here and we have both learned a great deal from this ‘epic fail’.

RELATED: Helping your kids handle social pressure

It all started with: “Why don’t you have a few friends over tonight to watch the last day of the Ashes test?” Someone in my house (who will remain nameless) said this to my son at about 2.00pm one Friday last December. This seemed innocuous enough, especially if he kept it to no more than 15-20 people, which is what I requested. I told him it sounded like a good idea. Well I got that one really wrong.

“My son invited 60 people, thinking that maybe 15 to 20 would attend. Those 60 passed details via SMS onto many others. You can see where this is heading.”

My hubby was at an end-of-year Christmas function so I would be the only adult in the house. But I thought to myself “How hard would it be to feed pizza to 15-20 teens?” Plus – with only a few hours’ notice – how many would really come? So my son sets up a private Facebook event and starts to invite…

Unbeknownst to me, my son also believed that because of bad weather and holidays that not many people would come. So he invited 60 people, thinking that maybe 15 to 20 would attend. It would just be a small ‘gathering’. Those 60 were hastily selected. As we later discovered, those 60 passed details via SMS onto many others. You can see where this is heading.

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  1. I am glad that your son had a successful 17th birthday party, its good to know that as a family you were able to sort things out. Do you have some tips?
    I would also be interested in knowing more about the grey area of underage drinking, when parents do not supply but teens smuggle it in.

    • I’m sure Margie will reply as well, but yes, she does have some great tips on what went right the second time, and I’ll be posting an article on that next week (hope you don’t need this info this weekend!)

      As for the issue of underage drinking, and supplying teenagers, we’ve been doing some research here at The Kids Are All Right and I was extremely surprised to learn that it does not seem to be illegal, if the teenagers are being supplied on private premises. It is illegal on licensed premises. Each state and territory has its own rules, and some states – Victoria for example, and I believe NSW – has recently brought in extra rules saying you can supply other people’s teens on your premises ONLY if you have permission from their parents/guardians. We’ll be publishing that article as soon as we can be sure we understand the facts.

  2. Thank you Margie for sharing your story and thank you The Kids Are All Right for publishing. It’s through stories like this that we can hopefully avoid the ‘Epic Fails’ and learn from others. Looking forward to reading the next article about what made Margie’s next party so successful.

  3. Wow. Interesting for me was how quickly it got out of control. your husband must have got the shock of his life when he arrived home. Serves him right for suggesting it in the first place!

  4. AAHH – it wasn’t my long-suffering husband that suggested the fiasco. I would love to blame him – alas my niece was the culprit.
    We’ve currently been going through the Schoolies issue with Son and it has gone extremely well. Again – planning is a plus. Thanks everyone for positive comments. On rereading the article there are some “negative mothering moments” but if it helps others avoid the mistakes we made – then its all good. I see it all as a learning experience!

  5. Thanks for sharing your story Margie. It’s refreshing to hear other parents have “epic fail” moments as well. As parents we need to support and encourage each other, it’s not an easy job. I know when I was growing up we didnt have the instant access of SMS and Facebook, times have certainly changed

    • Thanks Amanda for your comments. I agree wholeheartedly that parents need to support and encourage each other – hence the website! Glad you agree too 🙂 And I know a lot of people will say that bringing up teens today is no different to when we were teenagers, but I think that technology, like SMS and Facebook as you say, does make a big difference. Thanks a lot for stopping by.



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