Make it a Happy New Year for Teens

New Year’s Eve can be a fun, celebratory holiday… unless you have teenagers. Then, New Year’s Eve becomes a night filled with anxiety. Teens are eager to be involved in the festivities of the event, but it opens the possibility of underage drinking and the fear of car accidents involving drunk driving. Is there a way for adults to encourage the joy of New Year’s Eve while minimizing the risk? Absolutely!

Have a sleepover.

Encourage your teen to invite a friend (or several if you’re up for it) to spend the night at your house. Be sure to have fun activities planned like movies, makeovers/spa treatments for girls, board and video games, and snacks.

Throw a party.

Offer to throw a New Year’s Eve bash at your house.  Yes, it might be a painful evening for the adults at home, but it’s only a few hours of your life and will do wonders for keeping your kids safe. The key is to absolutely prevent drinking and smoking at your party. It should be stated clearly on the invitations and you should stay vigilant during the party. Take this seriously. Parents who are caught supplying alcohol, even inadvertently, to minors face serious liabilities. In some states, parents are subject to severe financial consequences, including fines and restitution to victims in the event of an accident. In addition, they may be charged in the criminal courts for, among other things, contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Believe it or not, it’s not that difficult or expensive to throw a “cool” teen party. Let your teen pick the music and make mixed discs to play all night.  Make sure your TV is tuned in to the popular “ball drop” shows with the volume down. Plan your snacks.  Teens eat a lot so provide a variety of choices. If you’re feeling creative, virgin cocktails to create the new year atmosphere without the alcohol. You must have noisemakers for the teens to bring in midnight. If your teen wants confetti for the ball drop, consider getting mini bottles of bubbles for them to blow instead so you aren’t faced with cleaning all of the confetti the next morning. Finally, make your decor simple and inexpensive.  String your Christmas lights all over the party room and turn out the lights. Buy some balloons at the dollar store, blow them up and scatter them around the floor.

Final tips… you should provide a safe place for storing purses, coats and other valuables. Limit the number of youth coming to your home so that it is controllable.  And it would be a good idea to keep a list with parent phone numbers in case of emergency. 

If your teen is intent on getting out of the house…

If your teen must go out on New Year’s Eve, you might want to encourage them to hang out with their friends at a bowling alley that offers midnight bowling. Some allies even have black light bowling, where the lights are turned low, a DJ plays music, and the pins and bowling balls glow. They would be able to have their December 31st fun, yet parents will feel comfortable knowing they aren’t in an environment that may be too wild or where they will be served alcohol.

Regardless of where they go on New Year’s Eve, take the time to talk to them. Remind them of the dangers of alcohol and of drinking and driving.  For tips on how to talk to them, visit our previous blog Drunk Driving Studies and Prevention.  Encourage them to call you to come and pick them (and their friends) up if they feel they need to, but recognize they may not want to do this for fear of your disapproval. Another way to help them make a better choice than drunk driving is to send them out with enough money for a cab and tell them to use it to get home safe. Some cities offer free public transportation on New Year’s Eve, so research those options for your kids. Encourage your kids to stay where they are once they get there. Emphasize that even if they are not drinking and driving, others on the road may be. Finally, be in communication with your teen during the night.  They should at least keep in touch with you so that you know where they are, that they are safe and when they are leaving… this is a moment when texting really comes in handy!

Final Note

On another note, if you are interested in learning about New Year’s resolutions for teens, visit the blog we wrote last year on this subject to learn tips for improving your success rate in keeping your goals and to learn what types of resolutions are good goals for adolescents: New Year’s Resolutions for Teens.

Middle Earth wishes you and your teen(s) a very healthy and happy new year!

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