LucyJo shares her advice and tips on hosting a teenage party.
Make sure you have a list, including the ‘plus ones’ (although we don’t allow these usually – I like to know who’s coming into our home!) If we haven’t heard of more than 70% of the kids, then we get the list revised.
And yes, this can be a cause of contention, fury and heated discussions, however my point is that I don’t have strangers walk through my kids’ rooms, so why should I be expected to have that happen to me? The more strangers there are, the more matters go awry, it seems.
We are really clear about where the party is; our formal sitting room and studies are only for us. The party gets the kitchen/dining room (great room) and the family room, plus as much garden as is wanted.
No one goes upstairs – it really is our private space. Why, I might actually have to make the beds and tidy up otherwise!
In the UK most teens (16+) drink wine and beer. And that’s what we provide, with the lowest possible alcohol content. Somebody will try to sneak in vodka or strong beer – you could inspect all the bags brought into your house, but your partygiver will be humiliated beyond belief.
So far no one has disgraced themselves, that we know of! I also over provide soft drinks and small bottles of water, at least 2 or 3 per person, so there is an easy alternative to alcohol.
I also re-locate the contents of our drinks cupboard, which is in the dining area: temptation removed.
This is absolutely essential. Loads of French bread, pizzas and crisps. I also provide popcorn, sweets and chocolate bars. Never any nuts, in case of allergies. I do recommend re-housing any favourite or special food – our Sunday chicken was once ‘marinated’ in ketchup and mayonnaise, and left out of the fridge for hours. Not ideal.
When it comes to plates and cups, use plastic or paper. The real ones will get broken, someone will stand on the glass shards, then you’ll be in A&E for hours – not my favourite Saturday evening haunt! What’s more, they can be thrown away, making the tidying up process more bearable.
Somebody will inevitably smoke, so I provide foil containers with gravel or sand in as ashtrays. This reduces the number of butts to be picked up in the garden over the next week.
I try to get the tidy up team on this soon after the event, otherwise the local squirrels are seen running about our garden with half-smoked Marlboro Lights hanging out of their mouths.
The volume depends on how close in proximity your neighbours are. Ours are tolerant, so long as they are warned in advance. In general, the tunes resume normal household levels at midnight. Though, frankly, this can be a bit much for me. My earplugs are always to hand!
7. Preparing the room
Take out all keys, knife blocks and precious objects. My kids also remove cutesy photos. I tend to clear work surfaces in the kitchen, putting away the mixer, juicer and bread oven. I once heard of a neighbour who found teens ‘blending’ empty coke cans in her new mixer. Ouch.
Apply the principle of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Less robust animals, like our ancient house bunny, should go for a sleepover elsewhere, likewise very little siblings (and possibly older, less tolerant fathers). If going it alone, have a robust friend or neighbour join you.
8. Parental involvement
We tend to stay out of the way. However, I do have a wander round the garden every 90 minutes or so, tactfully humming and avoiding eye contact with anyone scrambling in the undergrowth. But still making the gentle point that we are at home.
On one occasion, when gatecrashers appeared, I donned my trusty high-visibility, police lookalike jacket, marched about briskly and our driveway cleared, as if by magic. Well worth the £15 from the army surplus store.
9. Going Home
Be clear up front about what time the party finishes and stick to it. I put ALL the lights on and start bustling about – that gets everyone moving. Have taxi numbers to hand, and I usually do one or two runs to the station, having checked the last train times.
No one drives over the limit – keys are removed and sleeping bags supplied.
10. Clearing up
This is the partygiver’s responsibility. They organise a group of mates and blitz the house that night, then refine the next morning, plus the garden. Provide bin bags, recycling boxes and rubber gloves for the squeamish, plus bleach and cleaner for the bathroom.
This process can be a deterrent for future parties, but don’t hold your breath! You will find interesting objects in unexpected places for a while – six cans of Carlsberg in the wheelbarrow, a bar of chocolate rammed in the shed keyhole, and so on.
So long as there aren’t too many articles of underwear in bushes or your new laptop on the bird table, you’ve survived!