11 tips for a successful teen party

In an earlier guest post, Margie* shared her story of a teenage party that went horribly wrong, and ended with scores of gatecrashers, paddy wagons on the front lawn, and damage to property.
In this post, Margie shares some tips learnt from that experience and how she went on to hold a successful 17th birthday party for her son, with 70 guests.
Margie also shares her tips on teenage drinking at parties. These may not be for everyone, but they may be a big help to those of you looking for guidelines.

Following my ‘epic fail’ of hosting a ‘small gathering’ of teenagers that we quickly lost control of, I have listed some really vital things that I learnt about what works and what doesn’t when holding a teen party.

    1. Organise in advance. You cannot plan a teen party in four hours. Think at least 4 to 6 weeks. Anything less and you are not leaving enough planning time.
    2. Register your party with the local police at least three to four weeks before. Talk to them also about alcohol and any other issues you are worried about.
    3. Control the Facebook event. Do not set up the event until one to two weeks before and actively be a part of choosing who comes and who doesn’t. Make it clear on the event page that there will be security present and only those people listed will be allowed to attend. Make it very clear there is a beginning time and an ending time for the party. 7.00pm–11.00pm might be a good start. Give your mobile number for other parents to call you. (But do not be surprised by the amount of parents who do not know, do not want to know or do not care where their kids are.)
    4. Control the guest list. If your son goes to a single sex school, only allow boys from that school to attend. This should minimise fighting and competitive drinking. Also, boys who know you personally are more invested in behaving with some level of respect. No current school ID = No Entry. Have ONE final list of names and do not deviate from this. Do not let additions be made by anyone. Best to have two burly men in fluoro vests at the front gate with a massive spotlight behind them so kids are blinded as they arrive and caught off guard. Believe me, this really worked – the kids were so totally stunned by the industrial light in their eyes that they literally couldn’t lie. Be sure to match names on the list against ID and mark off the name on your list. Some kids will shamelessly claim they are someone else in order to gain entry using another’s ID which has been thrown to them over a fence. (Classic aside – We still laugh about watching my younger sister, one of the fabulous responsible adults who helped out, dressed in a cream blouse and pink pashmina, forcefully evicting a gatecrasher.)
Tips for hosting a party

Image from goretro.blogspot.com

  1. Invest in security if you do not have enough responsible adults to call on. There are a number of companies that specialise in school parties. At my son’s 17th party, we had 10 adults and 70 kids. This ratio of 1:7 was about right but at times an extra few adults would have been good.
  2. Secure your perimeter – totally. Any properties that adjoin yours need to be gated off. Have your security patrolling weak spots constantly and evicting gatecrashers as soon as they are seen. You will be amazed at what boys will climb or crash through in order to gain access to a party, especially if they are already drunk.
  3. Safety for everyone is your major concern. You want kids arriving safely and getting home safely. If a teen drives to the party take their car keys immediately and hide them. They must not be returned that night. If that means there is an unexpected sleepover, it is way better than the alternative. Be careful about returning car keys the next morning because alcohol, depending upon the quantity consumed, takes a long time to be metabolised.
  4. Set aside a secure room for valuables. Teens like to bring bags filled with mobile phones, iPhones, iPods, cash etc. To avoid theft have a secure room removed from the party that is manned by an adult at all times. (You would wonder why any kid would need an iPod at a party – but there are a lot of kids with way too many possessions and way too little respect for them.)
  5. Turn OFF your internet connection. Kids can and will hack into any available wireless network and download porn and access other unwanted sites. (I would not have believed this if it didn’t happen to our computer.)
  6. Feed them a lot, and often – especially make sure that the girls eat something. (Disturbing aside: a number of girls stated that they did not want to be seen eating in front of the boys. I think a whole article could be devoted to this issue alone.) We had 200 sausages cooked before anyone arrived plus 100 party pies/sausage rolls. They were taken around constantly.
  7. Keep them hydrated. Have a lot of bottles of water on hand, plus soft drink.

Read on for tips around teenage drinking at parties…

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  1. this is a terrific article! we now have a rule about no sleepovers and we pick up from the party !

    • The Kids Are All Right says:

      I thought these tips were excellent too. Everyone knows their own kids and for some it may not be necessary, but I think this is a good middle ground where your kid can go off and have a good time without going too crazy.

  2. These are excellent tips. Another tip I would add to this list is using wristbands to identify a) who is allowed at the party (applying them to guests as they arrive) and b) who is permitted to drink at this party (assuming you are permitting alcohol i.e. for an 18th birthday party where the guests may be 17-19 years old, and keeping in mind the need for moderation). Party wristbands provide an easy ongoing identification method for parents as the party goes on, especially if you choose a fluro colour such as yellow or neon lime. it is the same strategy used by festivals and other events – I am sure you have all been to a party/event and had to wear a wristband that identifies to security that you are allowed to be there. Why not apply this to your teenagers party also. Party wristbands are cost effective, but make sure you order wristbands with a single use clip – these cannot be removed by the guests (or transferred to others) except with scissors. Plus, if you add some content or imagery to the wristband, it is something the kids might like wearing also.

  3. Thank you for a great article and sharing your experience. I think one of the challenges for many parents is for both mum and dad to be on the same page and stand firm in the rules together. This article sets out very clearly how to manage some potentially very tricky situations.

    • Thanks for the feedback Skeeta. This continues to be a very popular article – it’s great being able to learn from other people isn’t it?

  4. People might fight during your party. If they do, say very politely, “Hey guys, you’re wrecking my party. Please stop it.” If that doesn’t work, tell your parents. lol



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