Formal 18ths and 21sts

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Parties just for youngsters will obviously have a very different atmosphere to a mixed-generation bash. Parents should try to relax and let proceedings take their course. Some of the most successful parties are those where the guests feel like they are left to their own devices, but the parents are keeping a subtly close eye on things.

- Alcohol should be available, but stick to beer and wine and provide plenty of soft drinks. If there is a bar area, then make sure an adult is monitoring what's being drunk.

At a venue, make sure the bar staff are briefed as to what's allowed and possibly put a limit behind the bar if guests are not paying.

Make sure there is plenty of food and if budget allows, provide some late-night snacks.

A formal sit-down meal may be too much and can be disrupted by people moving around from table to table. Instead, a more casual meal, such as a hog roast, may be more sensible.

Entertainment should be provided - parents should listen to what their son/daughter wants. Some may require a band, others will be happy with a home-built iPod disco.

Agree an end time to the party when the bar will actually close. In a venue, there is a distinct end to the night. At a marquee party, stop the music and make sure all the alcohol is removed.

If the party's been at home, then younger guests will usually expect to stay. If there's room, camping is a good option or, if the weather is fine, allow people to sleep on the marquee floor (tell them in advance to bring sleeping bags).

For parties at home it is sensible to invest in portaloos. This prevents people from going in and out of the house and minimises disruption.

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