Hosting a teen party can seem daunting even foolhardy, but careful planning with your teen can turn it into a bonding experience. There are however vital do's and don'ts involved, if you want to make sure these almost-adults enjoy themselves without things swinging out of control.
Draw up the guest list together. Think about the venue capacity. You don't want problems with crowd control, but nothing shouts ‘lame' louder than an empty dance-floor. Do allow for no-shows or sudden unexpected extras teen parties live or die on word of mouth and numbers and attendance can suddenly grow. Try to ensure the guests are all good friends of your child, don't allow anyone they dont know well or who you are uncomfortable with.
Unless you want to end up as a horror story in the press, don't allow your teen to post details of the party on social media. They may want to text invites to friends, but where possible, encourage them to stick to good old-fashioned printed invitations. These don't have to be expensive, your child can have fun creating these themselves. Do ask guests to present the invite at the door.
Don't be tempted leave teens to their own devices. If things go awry, it will be your responsibility. If you're hosting at home, let your teen know you will be on the premises but out of the way - in a room or area out of bounds to party-goers (perhaps upstairs). Check in every so often by nipping down to the fridge for a drink. For larger parties in an outside venue do think about recruiting a few responsible chaperones in their 20s or early 30s - family friends, trusted neighbours or a ‘cool uncle', who can be in the thick of things while you make yourselves less visible in a side room. You could even dress them as official doormen.
Do establish ground rules with your teen before the party to avoid having to embarrass them by reading the riot act during the event. These rules could be anything from going-home time, to ‘no-one in the lounge' to ‘no alcohol'. Ensure you have a plan in place to deal with any gate-crashers who may show up. Give your teen an incentive to behave in a mature way, saying if it goes well they can have further parties and make sure they know they'll be expected to clear up afterwards - the price of a good party!
Planning a teen fancy dress party can keep the emphasis firmly on fun and distract from potential flashpoints. Do give free rein to your child. Researching themes and sourcing a cool fancy dress costume will be fun. Point them towards our Teen Costumes section for a selection of unique teen costumes. To add glamour they could go for an ‘at the movies theme' or ‘black tie and bling'.
Do set a budget together and stick to it. Encourage your child to put together a list of costings for food, drink, decorations, venue etc. then look through it together, working out ways to source affordable items.
Don't waste money on a DJ. Your teen and their friends will have hours of music downloaded on their mobile device. Ensure you have a docking station with speakers of adequate size to ensure good sound quality. If hosting at home make sure you alert the neighbours about possible noise. If hosting in a venue, do phone ahead to check if they have a sound system installed.
FOOD & DRINK
Don't be tempted to skimp on food you want a party devoid of teen strops and those finely balanced blood sugar levels need maintaining. Teens love to graze so to keep things cheap, cheerful and tasty. Do allow your teen to dream up a snack menu of finger food like crisps and dips. Lay it out buffet-style and leave them to it. If you're hosting at home you could man the barbeque for a spell and offer hot-dogs or burgers. Where drinks concerned you could have a battle on your hands, but make sure they understand your stance and stick to it. Do invent a fun, non-alcoholic cocktail menu.