Teen Birthday Party

Guide to a great teen party

Planning a great teen party can be more difficult than planning a kids birthday party. The teen years are when finding one's true personality and creating social bonds become a priority, so teen birthday parties are about much more than just getting presents and eating cake (although those are still the highlights!). A great teen birthday party allows your teen to celebrate the greater individualism and independence that come with getting older.


Party Theme

The first thing you should decide is whether the party will have a theme, and if so, what the theme will be. Generally, your teen's likes and interests will offer up theme ideas. Hobbies, sports and other activities are a great place to start, but there might also be party possibilities in your teen's musical, literary and fashion tastes.

Some fun general party themes are:

  1. The luau party. Bring the tropics to your backyard or living room. This party works best with a barbecue and a pool, but with the right luau party supplies, you can give pretty much any space that Hawaiian beach feel.
  2. The murder mystery party. This recent trend among adults may capture your teen's interest, too – especially if he or she is a fan of any of the current television crime dramas. These parties take some planning ahead, but they can be worth the extra effort.
  3. The sleepover. This isn't exactly a theme, but it is a tried-and-true party classic. For a modern twist, try a camping motif. Of course, an invitation to spend the night can extend the fun of any party, whatever the theme!

No idea is going to appeal to all teenagers, so the best thing to do would be to discuss the party with your teen. (This would also be a good time to set a clear budget and go over any rules.) However, if you want to make the party a surprise, you might consider asking one of your teen's friends to help out. He or she probably shares at least some of your teen's interests and can act as a stand-in for your son or daughter.

Party Entertainment

Whatever your party's theme, you're going to need something to keep the guests busy and entertained. Your theme may lend itself to a particular type of entertainment – in fact, the murder mystery party is pretty much its own entertainment – but if not, or if your party is not themed, consider these ideas:

  1. Hire a D.J. Many deejays don't just play music; they also act as an M.C. of sorts. They're also likely to have a broad range of music, so they should be able to find something that fits the party theme (if you have one) and that your teen and his or her friends will like. Or, for do-it-yourselfers, create your own entertainment with a karaoke machine.
  2. Rent a limo or a party bus. This generally works best if you have a destination in mind, but it could be fun just to go for a drive.
  3. Have a bonfire. If you have the right location, a bonfire can be excellent, low-budget party entertainment. All you need is some hotdogs and marshmallows for toasting.
  4. Play laser tag or paintball. Usually, you have to rent time at a designated laser tag or paintball center, but if you have a large property, you may be able to rent the equipment and set up your own course. For smaller-scale action, consider renting a Wii for the evening.
  5. Do makeovers. No teenage girl can resist the lure of eyeshadow, lipstick and blush (oh my!). Depending on your budget, you could even hire a professional makeup artist to give the girls tips. And personalized makeup kits make great party favors.

Of course, there are also old standbys like going to the movies or wandering around the shopping mall. Again, your activity choice will depend on your teen's interests, as well as your budget and the size of the party.

The most important thing about any activity at a teen party is that it be fairly independent. Your teen loves you, but nothing kills the party faster than a couple of parents hanging around. Set up the party, lay down the ground rules and then back off – you don't have to (and shouldn't) disappear entirely, but you should move to another area of the house or arrange your own activity near wherever the party will be.

The teenage years are the beginning of your child's independence. This is definitely something to celebrate, and with a little bit of planning, you can make that celebration one your teen will love. You may even get a thank you!