We had a teenage house party this weekend. As of Monday morning, two things are true:
- First, I have never been more tired in my entire life.
- Second, I feel 10 years older and quite a bit wiser.
This wasn’t our first party. A couple of months ago she had a “small gathering” – which is what kids call parties when they want you to think it isn’t a party. It was a mixture of kids from school and it went fine.
Based on my prior party/small gathering experience, we had a few basic ground rules that I agreed with my teenager ahead of time. Basic things like:
- My daughter was permitted to invite a set number of kids (16), on the understanding that I would know their names (and how she knows them). Nobody other than those kids will be allowed to attend.
- I’m fine with moderate amounts of alcohol, assuming it’s beer and wine or those mini pre-mixed cocktail drinks
- No smoking or vaping in the house
- Illegal drugs are not welcome
- At least one adult to be present at all times, generally being old and lame and embarrassing
We locked valuables in the garage, the dog went off to friends overnight and I spoke with several parents to confirm arrangements.
What could go wrong?
As it turned out, a lot can go wrong. And we’re all still alive and the house is still standing, but I am not sure we’ll ever be hosting a house party in future. And I wanted to share some tips if you’re considering hosting a teenage house party.
We had a big issue with two sorts of gatecrashers at the party.
First, there were kids who arrived weirdly early (like, 5.30pm) and brought friends with them. We had a few kids turn up with friends or girl/boyfriends who were NOT ON THE LIST.
Then one kid said, “I think a few people might turn up uninvited. I heard some rumours…”
He wasn’t wrong. At about 6.30pm we noticed a huge gang of older boys loitering on the front lawn. I didn’t know them, and neither did my daughter. They rang the doorbell and asked to come inside. We said no, and asked them to leave.
At this point they kept ringing the bell, and vaulted the side (locked) gate into the back garden, where they tried to get inside via the kitchen. When we locked those doors, they climbed on the roof and tried to get through windows. Then they rang the bell some more, making vague threats to put a brick or worse through the windows.
So I called 999.
The police were there in minutes, and were great. They said the party had probably been “broadcast”, and we should not let anyone into the house except the kids who were invited, and then we should lock the doors and windows.
The first gang of lads had already started to leave, but the police said they’d intercepted another group just around the corner. They hustled them off too, and for the next couple of hours, regularly drove up and down the street keeping an eye on things. I kept the Ring doorbell camera running and moved our Nest camera into the kitchen to film the back door and windows, too. I figured if we had any more problems, at least we’d capture it.
Top tip: The police also advised us to ensure that all the kids invited to the party knew to turn their location off on Snapchat so that potential gatecrashers wouldn’t see them.
Misdeeds at Teenage House Parties
Soon after this, it became apparent a couple of enterprising teens had snuck in some vodka and had drunk it quickly because a) kids are stupid and b) kids don’t know about pacing themselves.
The net result was a couple of boys throwing up on the carpet and then passing out. Turns out I’m 100 percent that Mum because I called their parents and asked them to collect their offspring.
I’m sure it seemed mean, but I really just wanted those boys home safe and I knew if it was Flea, I’d want to check on her regularly in case she vomited in her sleep. I don’t get too outraged about such things – I remember drinking so much Bacardi at a house party when I was 15 that I still can’t stand the smell of the stuff, 30 years later.
The fun wasn’t over because at about 9pm I spotted one of the kids using drugs. We immediately asked that kid to leave and again (because I’m THAT Mum) I spoke with a parent to ensure they knew their son was on his way home. It’s hard when you know it’s just a good kid making a silly mistake, but I felt we had to show zero tolerance, and we were clear with all the guests about the house rules.
Apart from these exciting interludes, most of the evening was about loud singing, a huge amount of snogging and someone locking themselves in the downstairs loo with a random boy. The usual. Aside from the couple who had over-indulged, I think most of them had a good time, and were really polite and good fun to have around.
Later in the evening we had a few more uninvited guests show up. It’s SO hard to be mean when it’s tipping it down with rain and the kids look like tiny, drowned rats. But by this point we already had close to 30 kids in the house, and I didn’t want things to get totally our of control.
By midnight the party was dying down, and most of the kids had left in taxis, or been picked up by parents. We had seven teens who slept over. We put the boys in the lounge and the girls upstairs, and yes, I definitely spent a couple of hours chasing people back to the right beds, before everyone seemed to finally give up around 6am.
Would I host a teenage house party again? I honestly don’t know.
On the one hand, most of the kids are good people, and just wanted to have fun. But a teen house party is stressful and it is (honestly) scary when feel responsible for other people’s children. Especially when they’re not making the best decisions, or wanting to be somewhere they’re not invited, or not following your rules. It’s quite a lot to take on, really.
Top Tips for Teenage House Parties (for parents)
The house survived another party unscathed, at least. A bit of carpet cleaner here and there, and we are pretty much good as new.
But I’ve definitely got some tips for other parents if your teenager asks for a party.
- Be involved in planning at teenage house parties. Set a number of guests, and know the names of those guests
- Lock away your own spirits, and any valuables, in a part of the house that you know guests can’t get into
- Where possible speak to parents about your house rules, and check that all the kids have a way of getting home safely after your party.
- Have your teenager invite friends in person, and ask their parent to confirm via text, especially if they’re sleeping over. Don’t rely on text messages that purport to be from parents – ensure you speak to another parent. It takes a village, people.
- Do not, under any circumstances, let your child create a group chat for their party guests – who will then add a bunch of other kids to the chat, who legitimately think they’re invited to the party.
- As kids arrive, ask your child to make sure guests’ location data is turned off on Snapchat.
- Make sure there are clear rules around drink (if it’s allowed, and how much/what sort) and be clear that drugs are not welcome. Check out the law for guidance, here.
- It should go without saying there should always be at least one, preferably two adults present. Next time I would invite a burlier guy to throw people out
- As kids arrive, explain the ground rules – ours were, no spirits, no drugs, don’t open the doors, don’t let anybody in without an adult saying it’s okay.
- A good tip shared by a friend is to ask girls to give you their bags, and you’ll keep them safe upstairs. That way you’ll see if they take a bottle of spirits out of their bag, and can “look after it” for them until they go home.
- If you have uninvited guests, don’t let them in. Consider investing in cameras, and don’t be afraid to call the police if a situation is getting beyond what you’re comfortable dealing with yourself.
- Hide spare keys, and don’t leave keys in doors. It can be too tempting for someone to steal a key, and potentially break into the house further down the line, or worse.
- Put out plenty of food at teenage house parties, because it helps to minimise the impact of the alcohol. We found pizza worked well, but it turned out our party guests also just randomly ate a bowl of apples and a loaf of brown bread. So that’s nice.
- If kids sleep over, either resign yourself to the fact that they’re going to have sex, or you’re not going to have any sleep. I don’t think I’d let boys sleep at our house again, knowing what I know now.
- Invest in a couple of tester pots of paint so that those inexplicable marks that WILL appear on your walls can be quickly erased the next day. See also – carpet cleaning spray, baking powder and floor wipes because whatever teenagers drink is the stickiest stuff known to mankind.
Do you have any top tips for teenage house parties?