THROWING 18th birthday parties can strike fear into the hearts of most sane people, let alone the parents of 18-year-olds.
That’s because parents of 18-year-olds often remember what happened at their 18ths. Which isn’t that reassuring. And sometimes they don’t, which is worse.
For this reason, 18ths are viewed as a rite of passage, but not necessarily a passage of right. And in the great tradition of parties, the more wrong it seems, the more riot it feels. Maintaining that balance, without attracting the cops, is the key.
Now the first thing to realise about turning 18 is that you can vote. And the first big election issue on the table seems to be not necessarily whether Australia’s tax or immigration policies are OK, but rather, whether to grog on, or not.
This in turn raises the spectre that all party hosts fear – vom vom.
For this reason, many parents recommend hosting off-site. On neutral territory. Away from the lounge room carpet. Ideally, near a DMZ.
Tactically, you can understand. It gets you away from the general populace. It reduces noise concerns. And it gives you somewhere to bury the bodies/evidence.
If you must to have it at home, study military warfare.
Position tank traps, barb wire and baseball bats out the front. Have one point of entry in and out. And a cattle crush so you can immobilise livestock and possibly drench.
You may get a bit emotional along the journey. The whole growing up thing really seems optional to that point. I’m talking about the parents here.
The fact you put most of the helium in the party balloons may be an indication you are coming round. To what specifically?
Panic. About which day the 18th can be shoehorned in.
Modern youth lead such busy lives.
It’s not easy finding a clear slot on the calendar among competing 18ths, exams, sibling activities and quite possibly the disintegration of marriages as parents seek to find a slot.
But shared experience bonds people.
Common purpose is a galvanising force, and once the invites are on Facebook, the clock is ticking on the home invasion.
First big question: do you feed them? Not the home invaders, the guests. There may be an obligation under the Geneva Convention.
Regardless, it’s in your interest to plug them early with protein and carbos.
Really crappy alcohol, a lot of it useful for home renovations, may be present.
In sometimes volatile amounts.
I think it was Confucius who once said teen who drink on an empty stomach soon empty stomach.
You don’t want to set yourself up for chunky town.
But hey, the moment you decided to throw an 18th, you set yourself up.
For cooking. En masse.
The menu has to be edible and mass producible.
If you’ve got the wherewithal to get someone else to do it, good luck Gatsby.
Chances are, you’ll be self-catering.
So you need to be able to roll it out by the kilo. Meat’s a good start. Kill something.
Apply a few herbs, then some heat. You can’t go wrong.
If you’re really ambitious slip some vegetable matter near it. Then rely on the hunger of youth.
It’s not that complicated, but timing is critical. Remember, food first, then the vodka.
Next major concern, music. This can make or break a party.
One looping tape of Nutbush ain’t gonna cut it. Not that anyone will be asking you, the adult. You’ll be considered so appallingly out of date, you may need a bullet. After you set up the disco ball.
Reassuringly, I did hear the Chicken Dance get at least one run that night.
Once over the threshold, partygoers will move around. In packs. Mainly to the toilets. Amazingly, not just the girls.
This may get you paranoid about what the bloody hell’s going on. But remember, it’s only paranoia if it’s not true.
Also remember, it’s a bad look as an adult hanging around a toilet full of teens.
Extreme discretion recommended.
Every good party needs a fire. But make sure it’s not your house. Away from eaves is a good starting point.
The fire gives people somewhere to walk to when they feel they can’t bust any more moves.
On the dance floor, or on whoever’s on the dance floor.
Romance is never far from young hearts. So try to illuminate as much of your backyard as possible to discourage illicit sexual contact. Don’t be afraid to prowl with a spotlight and hose.
Speeches are a must, but keep them short. May I suggest something along the lines of: ‘‘Thanks for coming, yada yada yada, tried to go to heaven but he/she went the other way.’’
Thereafter shovel out the cake, supply lots of water, and keep your finger on the mains power switch.
Come the pumpkin hour, flick it, along with all your guests, and Bob’s your uncle.
If you’ve done your job right with the spotlight and hose, Bob, or anybody else, won’t actually be related to you in nine months time.