Teenage parties

The two places where teenagers drink away from home are at house parties and in public places. If planning to host a party for teenagers, or when you face your child going off to their first house party, we’ve put together some tips learnt from experiences shared at our talk to kids about alcohol sessions held in schools.

House party

Holding a house party

Think carefully before you say yes. Especially if the kids are under 15. Suggest alternatives such as going out for a pizza, bowling, the cinema, paint balling or a shopping trip with best friends… Agree the list of invites with your teenager. If anyone has a ‘reputation’ for bringing booze or getting drunk then explain why you’d prefer them not to be invited. This can include you being personally responsible if something goes wrong or if anyone’s hurt. Warn your teen about how they invite their friends – no open invitations on Facebook or chat on twitter, or you may end up with unwelcome guests.

Agree the house rules and put your teen in charge. Say if it all goes well, you’ll be happy to have more parties, but never again if things get out of hand, broken or disruptive etc. You might have to stay out of sight for you kids street cred, but stick around. It makes a big difference as to how kids behave if they know adults are around.. and you’ll be on hand if something goes wrong. You’ll be amazed how your kid’s friends will seek you out if they want a bit of a breather or are feeling a bit emotional.. have the kettle on in the kitchen and choccie biccies to hand. Provide plenty of food – not salty snacks, but carbs such as pizzas or wraps, mini sausages or satay sticks. Even if they’ve eaten before they come, the food will be hovered up! Teenagers do sneak in alcohol in water bottles, mixed with soft drinks etc, so be prepared and work out how you’ll handle this. Have loads of soft drinks and iced water available. There are some great alcohol free beers and ciders available now too. If anyone is sick or ill, contact their parents and never leave them unattended. Some tips on what to do if things go wrong. If it goes well, don’t forget to tell your teen how proud you are of them and their mates. If it’s possible try and have a few diversion games around, such as chocolate roulette, Twister, giant Jenga. Or a table tennis table or basket ball hoop if outside.. it helps distract and can be an icebreaker. Try and avoid massive sleepovers, as the kids won’t get much sleep (or you probably) and you won’t know what’s going on once you’re in bed! Finally, make sure you’ve warned your neighbours and have a reasonable finish time, allowing parents to pick up and get to bed too!

Going to parties

Out of sight out of mind? Set the ground rules as carefully as you can to ensure your child stays safe at other people’s parties… Speak to the host parents, even if you don’t know them. Tell your child you’re not prepared to let them go otherwise. Check an adult will be present and their policy on alcohol. If you can, drop your teenager off and pick them up, or share lifts with parents you trust. If sleeping over after a party at another friend’s house, check plans are genuine and again speak to the parents. Ask your child to ring or text you when they’re safely at their friend’s house. Make sure your teenager has had a good meal before they go out, such as pasta.

Dancing teens

Check they have a fully charged mobile that they must keep on, and that you have planned how and what time they are getting home. Be prepared to say no if you’re unhappy about a party or if your child doesn’t want you to speak to the host… there’ll be rows, but it’s because you care, not because you’re being a killjoy. Don’t feel pressured by younger teens to provide them with alcohol to take with them to parties. They may tell you everyone else’s parents do this, but that’s just not true.. or threaten you that they’ll ask their mates to buy it for them instead (explain they risk their friend being fined or charged). If your teen breaks your agreement, such as what time to be home, then make sure you carry through your threats, such as grounding them or stopping their spending money for a month. If you have any questions regarding information on this site, please do contact kate@alcoholeducationtrust.org