Safe, fun teen parties – it’s all in the planning

Parents have been worried about gatecrashers and parties spiraling out of control for as long as young people have been partying.

Wild house parties are hardly a new phenomenon. What is new is that where party addresses might have spread via word of mouth or photocopied invitations in years gone by, young people now have mass communication tools – in their pockets.

Facebook, email and SMS/instant messaging allow any smart phone user to instantly communicate or spread information across huge networks of people in ways that have never been possible in the past. Who could forget notorious Corey Worthington’s 500 people party?

In fact it’s such a topic of interest for parents that our GrogWatch story Hosting a great 18th birthday party is the single most read story on the blog ever.

The arrival of Facebook and hosting of events on the social network site heralded a new era of parties, where if privacy settings are not activated, a person invited to a party can share with all of their friends, who in turn can share with all their friends.

In the same way that old-fashioned phone trees are used to spread a message quickly to a maximum number of other people, Facebook allows the details of a party posted online to spread like bushfires.

This week we’ve seen a new technology development enabling people to list their parties online for others to access the details.

KickOn has been described by some this week as ‘Tinder for parties and events’.  It’s an app designed so that people hosting a party can list it and others in a geographic area can see it and ‘apply’ to join the party.

The app founder says he developed it as a response to the earlier bar and club closing times introduced in NSW this year, so people could find a venue to continue partying rather than go home.

Most of us can see quite a few potential problems arising from this app. As well-known child psychologist Dr Michael Carr Gregg described it, the app is worrying “particularly because it was pitched at teenagers, who were less able to predict the consequences of their actions.”

The good news is however, that there are some steps you can take as a parent to help avoid your teenager’s party spiralling out of control or them getting caught up in an out of control party elsewhere.


Plan a safe teen party 

More detailed information is available on The Other Talk website, but some key areas include:

Discuss and plan the party with your child so that expectations are clear. Key topics to plan include: budget, location, security, neighbours, cleaning, guestlist as well as start and finish times.

Register your party with police.

Written invitations have many advantages. It’s not recommended to invite guests by SMS, email or through social networking sites such as Facebook – you have more control of the guest list with written invitations. If you do use Facebook, ensure that the event is private and for invited guests only.

Plan activities
Make the party fun. The best way to hold a fun, safe party is to organise activities that will keep everyone entertained. Spend some time with your child planning activities like pool, table soccer, dance music, karaoke, games, and movies.

Providing alcohol or allowing young people to drink at a party carries a number of risks. As the legal host of the party, you are responsible for providing a safe environment. You could be held liable if anything goes wrong, even after the party if the guests leave drunk.

You should also plan for how you will deal with any drunk guests, whether you’ll confiscate alcohol and other drugs, if you’ll allow smoking and how you’ll communicate the rules to your guests.

Gatecrashers and security
Gatecrashers can be a big problem. Plan whether you need security and how you’ll restrict access to the party – one entry only is best. You’ll need responsible adults to supervise the party.

As a responsible host, you need to make sure your guests can get home safely because young people may not be able to make this judgment call. Pre-planning can help you find out how your guests are getting home and who is driving (and make sure they’re not drinking) and encourage parents to pick up children at the end of the party. You may need to arrange taxis for guests.

With some pre-planning many of the horror stories can be avoided. Print and use this safe party planner to plan a safe and fun party for your teen.