How To Help Your Teen Organise a Party Online Without It Becoming a Public Spectacle

Teen Parties and Instagram. If your teen is keen to have a party, I can guarantee you that they will not be handing out paper invitations on the playground! It’s all done online now my friends and that means – it can get very messy.

When my kids were in Primary School, I would make party invitations on Smilebox. It was so easy to personalise your invitation – you could, (and still can) add pics and even videos. And then best of all, you can print them out, or email them directly to your guests. Perfect!!

But, unfortunately, my teen boys won’t have a bar of Smilebox. Parties are now organised on Instagram which is definitely not as clean cut as Smilebox.

How Parties are Organised on Instagram

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the process of party organising on Instagram, let me share with you the process. But first, please sit down, it may make your hair stand on end.

  1. Create a private Instagram account that is specifically for the party eg Alex’s 21st Birthday Party. Include a small blurb about the party and encourage interested people to apply – I’m not joking!
  2. Tell a few key friends about the event and have them share the account in their Instagram story. This is to attract like-minded people who might be suitable for the party.
  3. People who are interested in attending the party then request to follow the account. The person holding the party then decides whether they would like the potential guest to attend. They check them out online and see if they are the ‘right fit’. If the potential guest’s request to follow is accepted, this means that they have an invite to the party.

Now, you can just imagine how this could play out. The fact the party account’s existence is shared by nominated friends means a teen’s entire school year and social circle quickly finds out about the party. And teens want to be included – we’ve all been there – so, of course many apply to attend the party. But unfortunately, numbers are limited so they are excluded but in the public arena that is Instagram.

I totally appreciate that you can’t have unlimited numbers to social gatherings, but life in the pre-social media era made this far easier to deal with. You may have known, for example, that your math class buddy, Rebecca, was having a party and that you weren’t invited. But you didn’t have to humiliate yourself by applying, being rejected and then having to view the fabulous images of the night, usually taken by a glossy professional photographer.

Is There Another Way?

No 4 son recently turned 15 and was super keen for a party. He and I were both determined to avoid this cruel approach to party organising. While he couldn’t have unlimited numbers and couldn’t invite everyone, our aim was to keep it as low key as possible while trying to avoid hurting kids’ feelings.

So, we went old-school! He invited guests directly. He did use Instagram but each guest received a private message. He did consider doing a group message on Instagram however there was a risk that the guests could add someone into the conversation and share the party details publicly.

And I’m pleased to report that the party went off without a hitch! I think my 2 eldest sons who were the ‘Security Team’ were a tad disappointment that there were no issues. I was very relieved!

Empathy Is Essential

As a mother of four sons, I am very aware of the importance of robust mental health. The digital world in which are kids are growing up adds a huge layer of complexity and additional pressures to daily life that didn’t exist when we were young. No longer can issues be left at school or on the bus, social media means you have no escape. And it is this constant pressure that is widely documented to be contributing to an increase in anxiety and depression amongst our teens.

It’s no secret that humans are at their most vulnerable during their teenage years. So, I strongly encourage parents of teens to help their offspring rethink their approach to organising social gatherings. Ask them to take a minute to think about how it would feel to be excluded from a party, particularly after having to gather the courage to apply to attend. I know it would have an impact on my self-worth and I’m in my 40’s!! Encourage them to find an alternative way of organising their event.

Digital Parenting Can Be a Tough Gig

Parenting ‘digital natives’ is tough. Our generation of kids have technology running through their veins while we are doing our best to stay up to date. If your teens dismisses your suggestions about party organising and keep assuring you that they have it ‘all under control’, take a deep breath. Respect for others, empathy and kindness is what you are trying to instill – and these concepts have been around for thousands of years!! So, stay strong!!

Till next time,

Alex xx


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