The hours after high school proms are notorious for kids getting into trouble with drinking, drugs, driving and sex. Peer pressure runs high at events like the prom, and even the best of teenagers can get confused or carried away, ending up in situations they’re not really ready for.
One way to head these problems off at the pass is for parents to set up an after-prom party for the kids. This lets the kids get rowdy with some supervision. But it has another interesting effect, and that’s to give kids an excuse to bow out of activities they may be feeling pressured to join in but really don’t even want to: “I can’t – I’ve gotta go to this party Jane’s parents set up, or my parents will ground me!” And being somewhere cool without even the choice to drink allows kids to avoid drinking without feeling like they’ll lose face with peers.
After-prom parties can be a few kids doing something fun in one family’s basement, or a large scale party including hundreds. Not all of these tips will apply in every case, but you can use your own judgment there.
Sounds too good to be true? Here’s how you pull it off:
Setting up a tempting after-prom party
The trick is to make your after-prom party really tempting to kids. That means it’s got to afford them some fun they can’t get elsewhere.
Rule #1: Work with other parents in your kids’ peer groups so everyone can share the expense and the burden of getting everything together. This also reduces the chances other parents will throw tempting parties that might not be as well-supervised as yours. (Some parents see their kids’ prom as a chance to relive their youthful days – or get to have the prom they never went to themselves – and may throw after parties that create the very sort of atmosphere you’re hoping to help your kids avoid. By getting those parents involved with one big neighborhood party, they get to have their vicarious glory days and you get to know where your kids are.) Depending how big you want to go, you could get local businesses to donate door prizes for a raffle to be held at the party.
Rule #2: Make it cool. The party needs to have enough cool stuff going on so that kids don’t feel tempted to sneak off to the “real party” that’s going on at some hotel room downtown. Talk to your kids and their friends about what they’d like. Get them on board. Once they decide your party is going to have the cool factor over all the others, you’re golden. Activities for the part will vary greatly, depending where you are and what’s available to you, and how big the party’s going to be. The following suggestions should cover you whether you can fit the whole senior class in your basement and there’s nothing to do in your hometown but go to Wal-Mart, or you’re wealthy and living in a huge city with all sorts of stuff to do:
- Renting limos to chauffeur the kids from the prom back to the party. This is not as expensive as it sounds, particularly if you’re sharing the burden with other parents. Most kids love the idea of riding in a limo, and this also helps ensure they’ll end up where you want them to be.
- Hire a deejay for your event.
- Hire one of your high school’s teenage rock bands to play the party. You’d be surprised how tempting that will be to many kids.
- Have a raffle with cool prizes donated by local businesses. (You may also convince local businesses to donate some cash or other valuable stuff, like food or free rented tables, to the party itself, in exchange for putting up some advertising banners around the party.)
- Rent karoke equipment for the party.
- Rent a yacht for your party. This is not cheap, but it sure is impressive to sail a party around a harbor while serving food and beverages and generally having a blast – and it’s one way to make sure none of the kids sneak off early. You may be able to get a deal if you can find a yachting company that sees this as a chance for good publicity.
- Take the kids to an amusement park.
- Rent out a local nightclub. That’s a pretty tempting carrot to dangle in front of underage kids.
- Rent out a casino, or set up your own mini-casino, and let kids exchange their “winning” chips for prizes donated by local businesses.
- Get a really big screen TV and do popcorn and horror movies.
- Hire some local stand-up comedians to keep everybody entertained.
- A beach party with a cookout can go down surprisingly well with kids, though you’ll need to take some extra steps to make sure nobody wanders off.
- Get a big screen, hook it up to the internet, and play virtual reality games against a team from a rival schools.
- You could rent out a local restaurant or hotel banquet room.
Safety and supervision
All this is great: you’ve set up a party your kids are actually looking forward to. No worries, right? Close, but there are a few more details to consider:
- Have enough chaperones to make sure no kids leave early or sneaks outside to get into trouble.
- Set up a clear policy of no ins and outs – once kids arrive, they stay until the party is over, unless their parents arrive to take them home earlier.
- Make it clear to parents that if their kids are caught using or possessing alcohol or drugs, the parents will be asked to come fetch their kids home immediately. While your main legal duty is simply not to serve alcohol or illegal substances to kids, a zero-tolerance policy is important both for discouraging substance abuse and to protect you legally in case someone somehow does get drunk (kids can be sneaky, you know that) and someone calls the police about it.
- Depending how big this party is, you may want to have parents of attending kids sign waivers that state they realize the point of the party is to keep kids out of trouble, but you cannot guarantee kids’ safety.
With some planning, you can set up a great party that will help you worry less and give your kids memories they’ll cherish.