Hosting a teenage party

So, the party is going to be at your place . . . use the safe party planner to help you have a conversation with your teenager about how their party will be organised and managed.

A clear understanding about all the things listed on the planner can help make sure everyone has the same expectations and has a good time.

When filling in your planner, there are a number of things to consider, including whether you will provide alcohol, allow smoking or what you would do if drugs were brought to the party, for example would you ask the person to leave?

Discussing the following can help make sure everyone’s got the same expectations about the party and has a good time.

Budget: Setting a budget will help decide the number of guests, the location, the type of entertainment, and catering.

Location: While you’re thinking about the location, try to consider:

  • security – how will you prevent gatecrashers, and if the party’s at home are some locations going to be off limits, and how will you keep your pets safe?
  • insurance – if the party’s at home, find out about your liability insurance cover
  • cleaning – who’s going to clean up the mess?
  • neighbours – who needs to be told about the party beforehand?

Guest list: Talk about how many people you feel comfortable with, the ages of guests, and whether known ‘trouble-makers’ will be invited.

Start and finish time: Agree on the start and finish time, including specifics of when the music will be turned off and drinks stopped. A pre-determined time will make it easier to pull the plug.

Register the party with your local police

It’s a good idea because police will be able to provide safe partying tips, let you know of noise regulations, and can help you out if the party gets out of control.

Select a state or territory to find police details

Invitations

Written invitations have many advantages:

  • they’re a point of contact with other parents, and if you ask them to RSVP on their child’s behalf you can have a chat and exchange contact details.
  • invitations make it clear that the party is invite-only – you could go a step further and request that invites be shown at the door.
  • it lets guests know what’s expected, like dress code, if alcohol will be allowed/provided, and the finishing time.
  • you have less control over the guest list if you invite via text, email or through social networking like Facebook. If you do use Facebook, make sure the event page is private and invite only.
  • they can convey a lot about the theme/spirit of the party through how they’re designed. They’re also a bit of a novelty now as they aren’t often used.

Make the party fun

Having a theme for the party can help take the focus off alcohol. You can organise decorations, food, drinks and activities that tie in with the theme. It will help to make it memorable, and allow your child scope for creativity.

This can be a fun bonding time – you could start a Pinterest board together that you both add ideas to about the theme, decorations, activities, and food. Pinterest is a free and very popular platform that people use to share images, ideas, and plans. You can set up a joint, private board that you can both add to but only the two of you can see.

Keeping guests entertained is important because it means there is more to do than drink. Spend some time with your child planning activities like:

  • games
  • karaoke
  • dance music
  • pool
  • table soccer
  • movies.

There are lots of great DIY activities online, which your child could have fun organising with you and their friends.

mother and daughter pose at celebration

There are risks involved if you choose to provide alcohol or allow young people to drink at the party. As the legal host, you are responsible for providing a safe environment and could potentially be held liable if anything goes wrong – even after the party, if the guests leave drunk.

Making a decision

When deciding whether to serve alcohol, consider the Australian alcohol guidelines which recommend people under the age of 18 should avoid alcohol.

If you do decide to serve alcohol, perhaps at an 18th birthday party, remember that most states and territories in Australia have secondary supply laws. This means that it’s illegal for you to serve underage guests alcohol without their parent or legal guardian’s permission, even if the party is in your home. It’s also illegal for guests to pass underage guests alcohol without this permission. Hefty fines apply for both adults and minors.

Serving alcohol

If you provide alcohol at a party for young people, you should:

  • tell parents/legal guardians ahead of time
  • make sure no under 18s are served or given alcohol - unless you have their parent’s/guardian’s explicit approval
  • set up an agreement between yourself and your young person about alcohol and adult supervision
  • only make alcohol available from one area and have a responsible adult serving who is not drinking alcohol
  • control how much alcohol is drunk and provide low-alcohol drinks and good non-alcoholic options
  • avoid drinks like punch that could be easily spiked
  • ensure food is readily available for all guests
  • avoid serving salty snacks as they make people thirsty and could cause them to drink more
  • plan for guests to sleep over if can’t get home safely.

Confiscating alcohol and drugs

Even if you decide not to serve alcohol, you might have to deal with guests trying to bring alcohol and drugs into the party. Talk to your child about whether you’ll confiscate alcohol and drugs, including what you’ll do with these substances.

If you chose to return what’s been confiscated after the party is over, you could still be held liable for any accidents that happen after the guests have left. You can consider the option of instead returning the substance to the guest’s parent.

Intoxicated guests

Consider what you will do if someone is intoxicated.

Intoxicated guests can increase the risk of accidents, injury, damaged property and violence occurring. As the host, you have the right to send the guest home – it’s a good idea to organise transport to make sure they can get home safely.

Smoking

You may also want to set some ground rules about smoking, especially if the party is being held in your home.

Communicate party rules to guests

Once all of these rules have been discussed with your young person, make guests aware of the rules too. A good way of doing this is to outline them on the party invitation.

Gatecrashers and security

Gatecrashers can be a problem at teenage parties, but you can take a few steps to avoid them getting in:

  • if you’re concerned about security, restrict the guest list
  • if you’re having a big party, consider hiring security
  • only have one entrance to the party, secure side or back gates if necessary
  • ask other adults to help you supervise the party and organise for one or more to be on the door
  • offer around food and drinks throughout the party so you can subtly keep an eye on things
  • make sure that vehicle access is not blocked for emergencies
  • phone police if unmanageable gatecrashers arrive.

Transport

You’ll need to make sure guests can get home safely because young people may not be able to make this judgment call. It’s a good idea to:

  • find out how your guests are getting home and who is driving (if a guest has been drinking, they shouldn’t be driving)
  • encourage parents/carers to pick up guests at the end of the party
  • encourage guests to use a taxi, rideshare or get a lift with a driver who won’t be drinking.

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