The after-prom party has taken a twist in recent years as parents have teamed up to sponsor alcohol-and drug-free celebrations -- often on school property -- chaperoned by parents and teachers. The challenge is to make the party so entertaining that teens will want to attend.
Bonnie Perkins began organizing all-night after-prom parties at her daughters' high school after a close friend's 18-year-old son was killed while driving drunk. She's also one of three moms who founded the Montgomery County, MD, Project Prom, through which parents in more than 30 high schools cooperate to share ideas, themes, decorations, and fundraising for after-prom events.
Party Musts:Food Music Decorations Prizes
It's the prizes that entice kids to stay until the end, since that's when drawings for the most valuable items are held, and teens must be present to win.
Top Party Activities:Inflatable obstacle courses Velcro walls Sumo wrestling (go figure) Virtual reality games Movies Karaoke Henna tattoos Casino gambling (with play money redeemable for prizes)
Students who attend these parties must arrive by a certain time. If they leave before it's over, they can't be readmitted.
While the parties usually require months of planning and fundraising, Perkins says it's not too late for this year. She knows one mom who pulled together a reasonably successful event in 2 weeks for $1,500.
Throwing a Party at Home
If there's no school-wide event, you might consider hosting your child's friends at your house. Together you can decide the party's start and end times, how many guests you can handle, and who will be invited.
Make it clear that you won't allow gate-crashers. Otherwise, the party could grow out of control. If an invited guest has been drinking when he arrives at the party, call his parents to come pick him up.
Get advance agreement with your teen on the party rules, such as no drinking or drugs; no smoking; no leaving the party and then returning; and no turning off the lights or using rooms that you've declared off-limits.
Greet guests at the door. Your teen will want you to keep a low profile, but you need to circulate. Watch for large bags in which kids might smuggle alcohol. Serve food in small quantities so you can use the excuse of replenishing supplies to keep an eye on the festivities.
Check your yard periodically. If you have a large number of guests, invite a few other parents, both to keep you company (and awake all night!) and to help keep order. It's also smart to alert your neighbors.
Do not serve alcohol. This should go without saying, but some parents assume that high-school seniors will inevitably drink on prom night and feel it's better for them to do it under parental supervision.
This overlooks the fact that serving alcohol to minors is illegal and that you can be found criminally or civilly liable if anyone at the party, including the intoxicated teen, gets hurt.
If the Party Is at Someone Else's House
Call the host parent in advance to find out the ground rules. Find out when the party will end and who will be chaperoning. If your child has more than one party invitation on prom night, it's safest to have her pick one for the evening and not party-hop.