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What is a Lock in Party?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 23, 2024
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Often, especially near the end of the school year, a school or organization will sponsor a lock in party. Whether it’s for prom, graduation, or some other event, an overnight party is planned and hosted by the school or group. A church, scout troop, or community center can also host a lock in, and it may be held on school grounds or at some other pre-planned location.

A lock in party is much like a big slumber party, only everyone is “locked in” until morning. Students may only be checked out by their parents or guardians; otherwise, they are not allowed to leave. Chaperones are present to make sure those attending stay safe and follow the rules. Of course, no alcohol or other substances are allowed and chaperones keep an eye on amorous young couples. If one of the teens does attempt to leave, his or her parents will be notified immediately.

Most of the time, there isn’t a real problem with keeping teens at the lock in party because they are having fun. It’s a safer way for kids to get together, dance, listen to music, and stay up late talking and laughing. Plenty of junk food, cold drinks, their choice of music, and some form of fun including silly games, are generally enough to keep kids entertained. This type of party is a good way for teens to celebrate safely and stay out of trouble while doing so.

While there may be wild parties elsewhere, most parents feel better allowing their teens to celebrate in a more structured, supervised manner. If a school doesn’t host a lock in party after a big event, parents might consider recommending one or offering to help chaperone. Kids should be able to celebrate and enjoy their accomplishments, but few things are worse than having such occasions marred by tragedy. By having an organized, controlled party instead of leaving kids to do their own thing, there’s a much better chance that teens will remain safe and have wonderful memories of their school years.

A fun idea is to give each person attending the party a t-shirt or journal and have the others sign it. Much the same as teens sign each other’s yearbooks, these shirts or journals can be used for saving special sentiments regarding the occasion. Kids may also want to bring along disposable cameras to capture memories of the party on film.

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Discussion Comments
By OeKc05 — On Feb 22, 2013

I was in charge of picking out Hawaiian party supplies for the prom and the lock in party that was to follow it. I loved the fact that the party had an island theme, and I went all out.

I bought hibiscus hair clips for the girls to put in their hair and grass skirts for everyone. I even got those little umbrellas for the nonalcoholic drinks.

I think that the silliness of the decorations brought everyone together. Alone, they would have felt ridiculous wearing them, but since everyone was in on it, they had something fun to share.

By lighth0se33 — On Feb 22, 2013

@orangey03 – That's pretty smart of her parents to do that! It does seem like seniors are a little old to attend a lock in party, so I hope she has a few friends who will be willing to show up!

I haven't been to a lock in since I was in fifth grade. Our school had one at the end of the year in the gym.

We played basketball and dodge ball for hours. We even got to shower afterward, though the teacher stood outside the door to make sure that no boys went in the stall with girls.

I have good memories of the lock in party. Maybe it was just so much fun because I was young and it was the biggest slumber party I'd ever been to, but for whatever reason, I look back fondly on it. I will definitely let my kids attend a lock in party if they want to go.

By orangey03 — On Feb 21, 2013

My friend's parents are always worried that she will end up in some sort of trouble before going off to college. They are terrified that she might become pregnant or go to jail, so they are planning a lock in party for graduation night.

My friend isn't too happy about this, but she is still seventeen and has to do what her parents say. I think it will be fun. We will have plenty of time in college to do rebellious things, but for now, we need to have a tame party that will keep us from hurting ourselves!

By DylanB — On Feb 20, 2013

My church used to have lock in parties, though they didn't always hold them in the building. They once rented out an entire skating rink and had the lock in there.

You can only do so much skating before your muscles give out, so we spent time chatting around the tables and snacking. It was challenging to stay awake all night, but since there were no comfortable spots to sleep, we all managed.

I must say that I did feel pretty horrible the next day, though! A night full of caffeinated beverages and junk food accompanied by no sleep can make you feel just as badly as if you had a hangover, I think.

By anon251508 — On Mar 01, 2012

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By Fiorite — On Oct 02, 2010

@ Anon32564- When I graduated from high school, my school put on a sober graduation party on a lake cruise boat. We took an overnight tour on Lake Champlain and had a great time. The event was catered and there was a good dj on board. It was definitely a memorable way to spend time with my graduating class, and almost everyone showed up because it was a party on a tour boat. Sure, there were the normal graduation ragers that followed, but the fact that we all hung out sober for one night left good memories, and the night did not end in drama.

By Glasshouse — On Oct 02, 2010

@ Anon32564- You might want to try talking your school into having one at a hotel or resort conference center. You may also want to consider contacting your local state college and seeing if they have space available. When I was in high school, we had a lock in party at a local ski resort. We stayed in the conference center, and had access to the hotel swimming pool, hot tub, and grounds. The party lasted into the morning. We started the next day off snowbaording at the resort and went home after the mountain closed.

We had another lock out party after the prom. Our prom was at the local state college, and we had a lock out after that in the grand ballroom. The party was a fun way to hang with friends even though there was no alcohol involved.

By anon32564 — On May 23, 2009

any ideas of where we can have one? my highschool doesn't allow juniors to have it at the school because we "know all the hiding places".

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