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Are there any overarching guides, strategies, or "best practices" in throwing birthday parties for teenagers?

This is something that I will have to do soon, and I have a few concerns:

  • Their friends procuring alcohol somewhere and bringing it to the party, thus making their potentially irresponsible drinking my problem.
  • Same as the above, but with drugs? To be clear, I don't believe that my kids have this problem, but I can't be 100% certain about their friends.
  • Not having my house wrecked (a la the stereotype parties depicted in teenager movies where there are a bunch of kids going crazy). How do I ensure that someone isn't showing up uninvited?
  • Generally speaking guaranteeing safety: some of these kids are old enough to get into trouble, occasionally there are stories in the newspapers about horrible things that happened to some teenager at a party. I want to make sure that none of that happens on my watch.

Can anyone offer any advice or things to look out for? I have a decent amount of faith in my kids to self-manage things to an extent, but the above still has me worried. When I was their age, my parents adopted a very hands-off attitude, which just happened to work out fine, but I'm not sure that that is the best way to go.

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    Will you be present? – Vincent Hubert Sep 8 '14 at 19:56
  • When I was growing up (I'm 25 now), I knew all of my friends' parents, so we never had this issue (small town). Are you not familiar with your kids' friends to the point that you're worried about them trashing your house? – Noah Sep 8 '14 at 19:59
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    I would say to 'check in' on the party every hour or 2, taste the punch and make sure no one is acting out of hand. For uninvited guests have your kid provide a guest list, and stress that anyone not on it is not welcome. Tell your kid that they need to find you immediately if someone at the party gets out of hand, and that it is her/his responsibility as they are hers/his guests. Future parties should depend on this. – Ida Sep 8 '14 at 21:51
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    What age? 13 year olds are teenagers, as are 19 year olds. – Dave Clarke Sep 9 '14 at 12:25
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    Answers will be completely different based on age. 19 year olds are adults and can drink in most places. 13 year olds are still kids. – Dave Clarke Sep 9 '14 at 15:38
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Have you talked to your child about these fears you have? Why don't you as a family sit down and try to find out what each one's expectations for this party are? Wouldn't your child understand that her/his first party as a teenager is as new to you as it is to her/him? What does she/he want? What do you want? (Don't forget to mention: You do want your child to have a great party!) Then sit together and make a plan for how to achieve that. Come up with rules that are supported by all of you. Something like

  • no alcohol, no drugs.
  • a maximum number of kids invited, no uninvited guests.
  • no parental interruption except for a brief look every two hours.
  • whatever else child and parents find important

Make sure this list isn't all about what you want to prevent, but also what the child wants! Make sure your child feels OK about enforcing these rules. For example, allow to put all the blame for "uncool" rules on you. Or give the child the means to invoke you to clear up a situation she/he feels unfit to handle without her/his friends knowing it's their friend's fault you happened to drop in right at the worst possible moment and spoiled the "fun" they were about to have.

A good way to prevent bad things to happen is to provide good things for the kids to do (be that movies, games or them making their own pizza). Keep them busy doing things which they enjoy and remember well when they look back at the party – but make sure you're not overriding your child's wishes.

Also remember: When your child is 15, it's just a few more years until she/he will leave the house and throw her/his own parties. In that light, I'd rather see my children do some "experimenting" before they leave, rather than afterwards. (That doesn't mean I encourage them to use drugs. But from a certain age I offer a glass of wine for the Sunday meal, or a beer for a BBQ. And I did get serious about contraception when my oldest had her first boyfriend.)

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I am 18 and had and been to parties and I would say the best thing to do is have all the alcohol put on to one table to you are able to monitor it, I did this for my 18th, it was the only way my mum would allow the party, but it works there was little trouble and friends monitored the drink as well. It does all depend on the age, if the are young maybe you say you will supply drinks but but very low percentage beers and drinks.

  • In the U.S., the legal drinking age is 21. That means the homeowner providing alcohol to 18 year olds is taking on the liability for anything that goes wrong, from rapes to road accidents, as well as subjecting themselves to criminal prosecution. – Marc Jan 5 '15 at 2:47
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    @Marc "mum" suggests UK, where the legal drinking age is 18. – AakashM Jan 13 '15 at 13:50

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