The prom after-party has become synonymous with sex, drugs and drinking. It's no wonder parents and school administrators across the country have teamed up to offer their own post-prom alternatives.
Looking for ideas for your teen's prom after-party? We went to the source to help you plan.
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 in area high schools cooperate to share ideas, themes, decorations and fundraising for after-prom events.
We caught up with Bonnie to get tips on how parents can make after-prom parties almost as memorable as the prom itself.
More: Senior Prom and Drinking
Planning a Party With the School
If you want to go big, you'll have to get the school involved. They can help you with fundraising, event space and organization.
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.
There are five things all post-prom parties must have: food, music, decorations, activities and 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
There are endless possibilities for activities. It all depends on how big your budget is. Some of the more popular ones include
- Inflatable obstacle courses
- Velcro walls
- Sumo wrestling
- Virtual reality games
- Henna tattoos
- Casino gambling (with play money redeemable for prizes)
Rules of the Party
Students who attend these parties must arrive by a certain time. If they leave before it's over, they can't be readmitted. If they have been drinking, or if they try to bring alcohol in, the parents should be notified to pick them up.
Throwing a Party at Home
If there's no school-wide event, you might consider hosting your teen'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. Here are some tips to help your party run smoothly.
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 to help keep order. It's also smart to alert your neighbors.
Don't 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. But no matter how you look at it, serving alcohol to minors is illegal and 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
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.
If the party is at the house of a close friend, volunteer to help organize, provide food or help chaperone. That way, you can be more involved in the event.
To you teen, it may seem like an invasion on their big night, but remember that their safety comes first.
Looking for more prom-planning tips? Check out 10 Prom Night Tips for Parents.