We had a teenage house party this weekend for my fifteen year old and her friends.
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.
Honestly, hosting a house party for teenagers is exhausting and stressful and will take a toll on your sanity and your worktops. This wasn’t our first party. A couple of months ago Flea had a “small gathering” – which I now realise 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, I figured another party would be fine. We had a few basic ground rules, that Flea had to agree to in advance:
House Rules for a Teenage House Party
- 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 come inside the house
- 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 and anyone seen with them will be asked to leave
- 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.
For some reason we had a bigger issue at this house party with gatecrashers. From what I can tell, teenagers love to tell other teenagers they are going to a “sesh” and then other teenagers assume if they just turn up, that will work out brilliantly for them.
Some of our gatecrashers I felt sorry for. They were kids who turned up and had brought a friend with them, who wasn’t on the list. Or boys who turned up and had brought a date.
For the most part, I politely explained to these teenagers that the party was only for a strict group of kids, and we weren’t letting anyone else inside. Some of them grumbled and one of them I think was challenging someone to a fight about it, but it was fairly low drama.
Then one kid said, “I think a few people might turn up uninvited. I heard some rumours…”
So, the real problem was kids who’d heard about the party from friends. Or kids who were added to group chats on Snapchat about the party, and assumed they were invited. Or kids who saw a lot of kids in one place on a Snapchat map, and decided to come and try to trash the house. Many of these teenagers were older, and arrived in groups.
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.
I genuinely just felt worried they’d vandalise the house or get involved in a row with someone inside the house, or find their way inside. So I called 999 and the police turned up ten minutes later. 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, a police car regularly drove up and down the street keeping an eye on things. I kept our Ring doorbell cameras running so 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.
What Happens at Teenage House Parties
Apart from gate crashers, our biggest challenge at a teenage house party was – predictably – alcohol.
Soon after the gatecrashers left, 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 teenagers throwing up on the carpet and then passing out. A girl passed out in the hallway. Another girl kept turning up in different rooms, crying. Someone tried to cook pizza and most of it ended up down the side of sofas.
Turns out I’m 100 percent that Mum because if someone passed out, I called their parents and asked them to collect their offspring. I’m sure it seemed mean, but I really just wanted those kids home safe.
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, and why. It’s hard when teens are involved to kick them out, but I didn’t feel comfortable seeing drugs being used in my home, and my house, my 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 kids who had over-indulged, I think most of them had a good time, and were basically polite and good fun.
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. I am determined not to think about what they got up to while I was asleep.
Would I host a teenage house party again? I honestly don’t know.
On the one hand, most of the kids are decent people, and just want to have fun. But it’s stressful when you’re responsible for keeping kids safe, who appear to be determined to pickle their livers and kill off a few thousand brain cells as quickly as possible. It’s quite a lot to take on, really.
Top Tips for Teenage House Parties (for parents)
Based on our experience, I’ve pulled together some helpful tips for hosting teenage house parties, especially for parents of teens. Here goes:
Planning and Invites
- Be involved in planning at teenage house parties. Set a number of guests, and know the names of those guests. Be clear that if you’re not on the list, you can’t come inside.
- Have your teenager invite friends in person, and ask a parent to confirm via text if they’re sleeping over. I always insist on this and my teen thinks it’s completely lame but I have to know if there’s an emergency, I know who to call.
- 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 in Snapchat or similar for their party guests. They will add a bunch of other kids to the chat, who legitimately think they’re invited to the party.
On the Day of the Party
- Lock away your own spirits, and any valuables, in a part of the house that you know guests can’t get into.
- Ask your child to make sure guests’ location data is turned off on Snapchat before they come to the party. A big crowd of kids at one house is catnip to gate crashers.
- 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.
As Guests Arrive
- 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 help people out who can no longer stand up.
- 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 tip I’d use now is to collect kids’ coats and bags on the way in and put them safe upstairs. A lot of girls looked me in the eye while I explained our “no spirits” rule, knowing full well they had a litre of vodka in their handbags. Invariably those were the girls throwing up or passed out an hour later.
- 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.
- 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 it’s nice that they were looking after their fibre intake.
- Buy multiple bottle openers and attach them to surfaces with tape and string. Rather than look for the one bottle opener in our kitchen, teenagers just used the kitchen worktop and my lounge side tables to open bottles. Grrrr.
Keeping Kids Safe at Teenage House Parties
- Leave out plenty of small bottles of water, juice and cans of Diet Coke. I figure if nothing else, boredom may eventually persuade a teenager to keep hydrated.
- Make sure your teen knows that your first, second and third priority is keeping everyone safe, so if someone has taken something or drunk too much and isn’t well, you can 1,000% come and ask me for help, and it will be given.
- Try and serve food, but when menu planning, consider the fact that 80% of whatever you serve will end up on your furniture, so it might as well be something easy to vacuum.
- 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. Maybe both. I don’t think I’d let boys and girls 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?