When the prom ends at 10 or 11 p.m., teens don't want the celebration to end. To avoid having your child head to an unsupervised keg party at a classmate's house -- where the police can arrest everyone in attendance for underage drinking or drugs -- try planning a post-prom party at your home, where you can maintain order.
Talk to your teen about his or her interest in hosting a party, which you will offer to pay for at a set budget. Being given the chance to choose decor, put together a menu and personalize the party is fabulous fun for teens, who might ask if their closest friends can be co-hosts. You could help them soar in their school social strata as planners of the best post-prom party ever.
Here are the top trends and tips for post-prom parties:
-- Who's invited? Make this party invitation-only, so that you don't get hundreds of party crashers on your front lawn. Give your teen a headcount limit, such as 30 or 40 friends, understanding the importance of friendship circles. Your teen can't invite just some of their clique members, or they'll suffer snubs and gossip. Remember, too, that guests' dates will be expected, as well.
-- Get a gatekeeper. Word travels fast about a planned party, so parents should position themselves at the front door to be sure guests are on the list. "I stood outside on the front porch," says father Andy Blake. "And when the football team started walking up my front lawn with kegs on their shoulders, they took one look at me, turned around and left.
-- Sending invitations. Make it free and stylish with Evite.com, Pingg.com or other online invitations, where your teen can email invites to the bash, and see who's attending and who's not. Evites and Pinggs keep the invitation list private, unlike a post on Facebook, and help to discourage party-crashers.
-- Decide where the party will be. Do you have a downstairs den with a big-screen television, pool table and lots of seating? That could be home to the party and is smarter than an outdoor pool party. During late-night hours, even 10 kids can be too noisy for the neighbors, so keep everyone inside.
-- Choose decor. It's a big trend now for the party to have a unique, personalized color scheme -- such as bright oranges and yellows, or purples and blues -- instead of decorating in the school's colors or logos. Guide your teen through party photos at the website Hostess with the Mostess, and design a stylish party setting. On HWTM's blog, you'll find free printables for signs and other theme-decor accents.
Help your teen get more for the money at the party store by using coupons and choosing solid-colored plates and plastic cups, instead of designed ones. Balloons can be pricy, so these are most often skipped in favor of stylish table setups for color and design in the room.
-- Choose a menu. Make it easy and crowd-pleasing with delivered pizzas or party platters from warehouse shops such as Costco or Sam's Club. Or act as chef for the evening with your home-cooked fajita-makings arranged on a buffet table, where kids can add their own flavors.
Other top menu trends include french fries served in easy-to-make paper cones, submarine sandwich slices and, of course, plenty of chips and dip. Desserts are a must, so get a budget-friendly sheet cake at the supermarket or warehouse store, or serve theme-matching cupcakes or brownie squares.
-- Offer drinks. There will be no alcohol on the menu, but the bar can be filled with terrific drinks, including an array of sodas, and "cocktails" made from equal parts iced tea and lemonade. Or serve colorful fruit juices with the fizz of seltzer. Visit the website Evite to use its free calculator to help you shop for the right amount of beverages for the guest list, and buy 20 percent extra so you don't run out.
-- Plan entertainment. Be sure teens have fun activities, such as that pool table, parent-approved movie rentals, multiplayer gaming systems, a karaoke system and music your teen has arranged for the iPod dock. A big new trend for post-prom parties is a "photo booth" area where they can take group photos. Just set up a colorful backdrop -- perhaps a colorful bedsheet -- and gather up fun props such as feather boas, tiaras and other costume items from your family's Halloween collection, and guests can take photos using your or their cameras.
-- Be there. Your teen may not like it, but it's smart to pop in every now and then to be sure no one is misbehaving. And check out other rooms in the house, as well as your backyard areas, to be sure no one has ventured off to misbehave there. Everyone gets a safe ride home courtesy of their parents or a responsible friend, or guests can sleep over, according to your house rules. Some parent-neighbors split the crowd; boys stay at one house, and girls stay at the other.