10 Tips for Teen Parties

by Gina Roberts-Grey

Teaching your teen or tween how to plan a party and be a gracious, respectful host will give your child a strong sense of social do’s and don’ts. And you’ll know he’s partying with ideals and social values you’ve discussed.

Here are 10 teen party ideas.

1. Sharing the wealth. “I’ve suggested assigning party items for guests to bring to lighten the financial obligation and teach the lesson of party attendance etiquette,” says Lilly Scott, a mother of three teens from Wilmington, DE.
From the party décor to the beverages, asking friends to help out lends an eclectic flair, gives everyone the chance to take ownership and shares the party’s cost.

2. Decorations count. “We’ve used colored crepe paper, paper lanterns, baby pictures of my friends and me, and scraps of fabric to decorate our basement and garage,” says Lilly’s daughter Bethanie. A stage for a karaoke concert or a brightly colored and illuminated space to challenge a video dance pad game can create a festive mood.

3. Mixing boys and girls. To minimize opportunities for mischief, Linda Amadio, a party consultant and owner of Imagine it Kidz in Whitemarsh, PA, advises to make a list of activites to keep the party moving. “Organized structure provides safe options for teens,” she says.

4. Munchies, movies and more. Ask guests to bring a favorite snack to share and ensure the party has a myriad of tasty treats. Or they can bring a video with an appropriate rating and theme.

5. Setting the ground rules. “Let all partygoers know the house rules concerning feeding the dog left over pizza, using the pool table as a karaoke stage, or turning the lights off to slow-dance,” Amadio urges. With your teen host, discuss who’s going to enforce the house rules. If he’s not comfortable in that role, suggest a close friend or older sibling who can help out. If all else fails, you can be the “bad cop” to keep the party going in the intended direction.

6. Counting heads. “Talk to your teen to make sure he’s in control of the partygoers who might show up at your door,” says family therapist Brent Malinowski of Dover, DE. Discuss the importance of not “crashing” parties, the significance of an RSVP and the value of sticking to his word when he says he’ll attend another’s party.

7. Your presence. You and your teen might clash over your level of supervision. Agreeing to watch from a distance is often an acceptable solution. Stationed in the master bedroom or den, you can tune in to the party without your child feeling you’re looking over her shoulder.

8. The revolving party. Amadio says a fun approach is to move the teen party from house to house. Such a program can include pizza and soda at the first house, watching a movie or singing karaoke at the next location, then heading to a third house for snacks.

9. Have an “out” plan. If the party takes an inappropriate direction, having a plan will help your teen keep his cool under pressure. Establish a code word or a way for your teen to contact you for help. Let your teen know you’re willing to intervene if there’s trouble or that you’ll pick her up if she’s uncomfortable at someone else’s party.

10. Themes keep the scene fun. An “all ice cream all the time” or a “name that chip (or pizza or cookie)” party gives teens something fun to focus on, says Amadio. Setting up board game stations throughout the basement or guessing games that break the ice adds another layer of fun and keeps the party lighthearted for all to enjoy.

Gina Roberts-Grey is a freelance writer.