Hosting a teenage party
There might be times when your child wants to host a party at home. Hosting a party can feel daunting - you might be worried about loud music, gatecrashing, property damage or alcohol use.
But with the right planning, hosting a party can be a fun thing to do with your child. Your child will get to practise her planning skills, develop responsibility and learn about decision-making.
Hosting a party is also a good chance for you to get to know your child's friends.
Parties are a common and important part of teenage social life. If your child wants to go to a party, it's a good idea to talk to him about balancing fun and safety.
Your responsibilities when you host a teenage party
If your child is having a party at home (or somewhere else you've organised), you're considered to be the host.
You have a legal duty of care to ensure that everyone at the party is safe. If anything goes wrong at the party, or even after the party, and you haven't taken care to prevent this, you could be held responsible.
It's a good idea to check state laws about teenagers and alcohol, as well as any noise restrictions that apply in your neighbourhood or wherever you're holding the party.
Also, if you register the party with the police, they'll have all the details about the party. This means they can respond quickly if you need to call them.
Planning and setting ground rules for teenage parties
The first step in planning a teenage party is talking with your child about what sort of party she wants. Then you can establish some ground rules to help things run smoothly and keep partygoers safe.
Here are some things to talk about with your child:
- Invitations: consider how to stop electronic invitations being shared on social media or forwarded to people who haven't been invited.
- Activities: your child might want games, like competitions or karaoke, or he might prefer just to chat with friends and listen to music.
- Music: how loud can it be and what time does it need to be turned down or off? How do you feel about music that includes offensive language? You could also help your child choose music or make a playlist.
- Supervision: if you have other adults at the party to help you with supervision, it can help keep everyone safe. You could talk with your child about which adults might be good to ask.
- Alcohol: will you allow alcohol and how will you control it if you do? What will you do if you decide on an alcohol-free party and alcohol is smuggled in? There's more information below about alcohol at teenage parties.
- Smoking: will you allow it?
- Drugs: what will you do if drugs are used at the party? For example, you might decide that the party will be stopped if anyone is using drugs.
- Access to parts of your home: for example, you might want to make the bedrooms or other rooms off limits. If you have a pool, how will you ensure it's used safely?
- Gatecrashers: plan what to do about gatecrashers. If you're having a big party, you might consider hiring a security guard to help you keep your party safe.
- Neighbours: consider letting them know when the party will be held and what time the music will be turned off.
Tips to help teenage parties run smoothly
It can help to ask your child before the party whether she's worried about anything in relation to the party. On the night, check in with her regularly to make sure everything's going well.
Other parents have also found the following tips helpful:
- Have one entrance to the party. Make sure that adults answer the door so that only young people with invitations get in. Refuse gatecrashers.
- Look out for problems brewing before they happen, and be ready to phone the police.
- Keep the food coming. This gives you a chance to mingle and check out how the party is going without looking like you're spying.
- Make sure there are adults who aren't drinking. They can help keep control of the party, deal with any problems, and be available to drive if needed.
- Turn lights on or turn the music down shortly before the party is due to end. This encourages people to leave.
- Check how the partygoers are getting home. Let them use your phone if they need to call for a lift. You can also offer to book taxis, or have some spare bedding ready if someone can't get home.
If someone drinks too much and becomes unconscious, call an ambulance - don't let other teenagers take the person home. Put the person into the recovery position, monitor breathing and heart rate, and make sure the person isn't left alone to sleep off the effects of alcohol or other drugs. People can die from alcohol poisoning or by choking on their own vomit. Contact the person's parents to let them know what's going on.
Alcohol at teenage parties
It's best for young people not to drink until they're at least 18 years old. Drinking alcohol at a young age has significant health implications.
If your child is underage and wants to have alcohol at his party, you have the right to refuse.
If you're considering allowing alcohol at the party, you first need to check whether this is legal in your state and then decide whether it's something you're comfortable with. You could be legally liable if a problem comes up during or even after the party. You might talk with your child about the possible risks and harms of serving alcohol.
If your child is older, or you agree to serve alcohol, the following tips can help:
- Let the parents of partygoers know. In some states, it's illegal to serve alcohol to children under 18 without the consent of their parents.
- Provide and serve the alcohol yourself, and consider serving it for only a short time - for example, between 8 pm and 9 pm. Offer drinks with a lower alcohol content, and serve small amounts.
- Pour alcohol into plastic cups to help teenagers monitor the number of standard drinks they've had. Plastic cups also reduce the risk of bottles or glasses being broken or thrown.
- Watch out for alcohol being smuggled in. Ask that teenagers leave all bags and backpacks in a particular area, so you can check what they take out of their bags.
- Provide plenty of soft drinks and water, and make sure there's plenty of food, but note that salty snacks make people thirsty.
- Try to work out who's planning to drive home, and make sure they're not drinking. You might consider suggesting drivers give you their keys when they arrive.
- If you have young people under 18 years at the party, make sure they can't take alcohol away from the party. You could be held liable if you give alcohol to a child who drinks it after leaving the party and then gets into trouble.
There's no safe level of alcohol consumption for children under 18. Their bodies and brains are still developing and can be easily damaged. You can find more information in our article on preventing teenage alcohol use.
State and territory information about teenage parties
The following links provide information about teenagers, parties and alcohol in your state or territory:
- ACT Policing - Safe party behaviours
- NSW Police Force - Safe party tips
- NT Government - Young people and parties
- Queensland Police - Party safe
- Legal Services Commission of South Australia - Parties and the law
- Tasmania Police - Party safe
- Victorian Department of Education and Training - Alcohol, teenage parties and the law
- WA Drug and Alcohol Office - Hosting a party for teenagers: Factors to consider