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Birthday Party Ideas for Teens

Posted By Laurie Grant


Bring your teens face-to-face for a fantastic birthday party— one that will have them setting aside their handheld devices long enough to create memories worthy of awesome snapchats and tweets! Browse this list of birthday party ideas for inspiration on ways to rock the house or to simply enjoy chilling with each other.

Hawaiian Luau

Create your own tropical paradise right in your own backyard. Bring your Hawaiian luau to life by making a tiki hut or dressing up your existing outdoor area with grass skirt material, lanterns, fish nets, and other tropical trinkets. Ask your guests to arrive wearing colorful Hawaiian shirts and dresses and welcome each of them with a customary lei, of course! You can either buy your leis from a party supply store or have everyone make their own lei with fresh flowers as a fun party activity. Set the island atmosphere with the sound of ukuleles, marimbas, and some of Elvis Presley’s classic soundtracks from Blue Hawaii and Paradise Hawaiian Style, or singer Israel Kamakawiw’ole’s famous ukulele-kissed version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Feast on tropical delights such as ham and pineapple kabobs, crab rangoons and ahi tuna. Everyone loves tropical drinks garnished with fruit and mini umbrellas. There are tons of non-alcoholic recipes for everything from Mai Tais to Blue Hawaiians and Luau Punch. Sing “Hau`oli Lā Hānau” to your birthday teen and remind him/her, “Ke ‘oi loa a koe, na’e hana hele mai”, meaning “the best is yet to come”.

Emoji Party

Celebrate your teen birthday with every emotion from sleepy to ecstatic! Decorate by sticking large emoji emblems on the walls and draw emoji faces on yellow helium-filled balloons. Make your own large emoji to play Pin the Face on the Emoji. Take a yellow table cloth and hold it tight around a hula hoop. Then, staple it in place around the edges. Using either felt or bristol board, cut out a variety of emoji features and apply double-sided tape to the back of each piece. Blindfold each guest and then have them pin the features on the big emoji. They are sure to ROFL! Serve personal pizzas with toppings to form the expressions. Cut up pepperoni and ham to form popular emoji expressions, and use veggies like green peppers for smiles and eyebrows. Mini Gouda cheese wheels provide a natural base for emojis, and you can personalize each one with black food-color pens.

Pokemon Go Party

Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm— especially the teenage set. Join the craze and celebrate your teen’s birthday party with Pokemon Go! Set a meeting place such as a public park where you know there will be tons of Pokemon to catch. Enjoy walking through the park catching Pokemon together. Either rent a pavilion at the park or head back home after the hunt to continue celebrating with yummy food and drinks. The circular Pokemon shapes provide some great food ideas such as turning a cheese pizza into a Pokeball by using black olives to form the line across the center and circle in the middle. Pepperoni slices form the red half of the ball while the white side remains cheese only. Decorate paper lanterns with Pokemon character faces and hang a Pokeball pinata— yes, even teens still love a pinata full of candy and trinkets! Play Pin the Tail on Pikachu, and if you’re feeling really creative, transform your birthday teen’s favorite character into a deliciously delightful birthday cake.

Spa Party

Pamper your birthday teen and her guests by indulging them in luxurious spa party. You don’t have to book appointments at an expensive salon— you can do it all at home with a little preparation. Have your guests arrive in comfy yoga clothing and hand out hair bands to each young lady. Set up stations throughout the house: one for pedicures, another for facials, and one for manicures. Enlist a few moms to help work each station. Starting with the fancy feet station, fill a few square buckets with warm water and fizzing foot soap (a mixture of baking soda, corn starch, citric acid, and your favorite fragrance oil). After their tootsies are nice and clean, provide a variety of nail colors and paint their toenails or have them paint each others. For the facial station, set out bowls of a delicious-smelling mask mixtures and unused paint brushes. Have the girls paint the masks on their faces and rest their heads on rolled-up towels while they chill out to their favorite tunes. Place cucumber slices over their eyes for a cool refreshing feel. A fun manicure idea is to cover a large table with a plastic tablecloth and set out a variety of at least 10 different nail polishes. Have each girl select a color and seat them all at the table. Play music and then stop it after a minute or so and whichever color the girl is holding is the color they use for one fingernail. Continue this game of musical nail polish until all 10 fingers are painted. Serve dainty little blossom tea sandwiches by cutting bread and cucumbers with different small sizes of cookie cutters. Spread cream cheese on the bread, then top with a slice of cucumber, and a halved cherry tomato. Voila— a pretty little yummy treat!

Beach Party

If your teen’s idea of a great time is spending a day a the beach, but you can’t get there, bring the beach to your backyard! Transform your yard into a sandy retreat by filling inflatable swimming pools with sand. Add some shells and hide some trinkets in the sand for a fun treasure hunt. You can even fill one pool with ice and drinks for a handy and refreshing treat. Set up a volleyball net and create a game of bowling by using a coconut as the ball and colored water bottles as the pins. Fill beach buckets with a variety of snacks and use the shovels as serving spoons. Fill a clear glass fish bowl with Goldfish crackers for an edible decoration, and make sand dollar cookies by placing 5 sliced almonds in a circular, flower-like arrangement on top of sugar cookie dough before baking. Provide plenty of beach balls, and don’t forget the sunscreen and a water hose for keeping cool! Play lots of beach tunes and if your feeling extra-beachy, have a Carolina-inspired Shag dance contest!

Camping Party

Camp outs are perfect for teens who want to get away but aren’t quite old enough to go out on their own. Start your rocking camp party planning by sending out invitations shaped like tents, of course! Provide enough tents so that everyone has sleeping space, but have your guests bring their own sleeping bags. Some fun camping games and activities include catching lightning bugs in glass jars, sleeping bag races, and telling ghost stories.  Roast hot dogs and marshmallows by the fire or on the grill. Sing campfire songs from the past or make up your own but remember to sing the most important song of the night, Happy Birthday!

Neon/Glow Party

Glow parties are all the rage these days and they are pretty easy to pull-off, too! Invite your guests to wear fluorescent clothing and glow-in-the-dark accessories. Stock up on supplies such as black lights and glow sticks in all shapes and sizes. Darken the room and fill it with vibrant decorations made with neon pens and paper and strings of glowing led lights in a variety of colors. Fill a box with brightly-colored plastic sunglasses, bracelets, rings, and other accessories for fun party favors for your guests. If you want to take your glow party to the next level, consider painting yourself with glow paint and offering it to your guests. Glow-in-the-dark body paint is often available from specialty stores like costume shops, Halloween supply stores, and online. To create the look and feel of a “rave” at your glow party, consider playing classic house/techno or modern EDM (electronic dance music). It’s possible to throw a great glow party with almost any sort of playlist, as long as you’ve got great music. Try to have a playlist of music picked out before your party begins. Get together with your teen ahead of time and pick out songs for their party. Then simply set your playlist on shuffle during the party and have fun!

Disco Party

Donna's Disco Sweet 16

Throw back to the music and the fashion of the 1970s. The gals wore low-cut pants and high-cut boots while the guys wore bell bottoms and platform shoes. Invite the teens to dress in their favorite 70s attire and welcome them to the party with a set of beads, a peace sign necklace, or a head band. Serve finger foods and make peace sign birthday cake. Spend the evening doing the Hustle to disco music under a spinning disco ball. Play tunes by Donna Summer, The Bee Gees and KC and the Sunshine band.  Everyone will want to boogie all night long!

Fear Factor

A sure way to conquer fears and have fun at the same time is to throw a fear factor birthday party. Instead of using the elimination method like they do on the show, consider using a point system so that all your guests can be involved and not get cut out half way through. At the end of all the games whoever has the most points wins! Choose challenges worthy of the title by considering some of these ideas: Egg Roulette— place a bowl of boiled eggs in front of the players. All players must pick up an egg out of a big bowl and on the count of three, immediately crack it against their forehead. The challenge is before the game you tell the players that one of the eggs is actually raw. Who has the courage to egg themselves in the face? The trick is that ALL the eggs are actually boiled and this is just a test of courage. The players that hesitates to crack the egg fails. Award all the players that don’t hesitate with 5 points. Baby Food Taste Test— empty a variety of different jars of baby food into individual bowls (make sure you know which is which), label the bowls with numbers and challenge players to taste every bowl and try and guess what it is. Make sure to have paper and pencils handy so guests can write their answers on them. Award 1 point for every correct guess and 3 additional points to the one that has the most correct guesses.  Dog Biscuit Race— players will pick up a dog biscuit with their mouths and race to drop it in a bucket on the other side of the room (or yard if you’re playing outside). Have a bowl of six dog biscuits ready for each player, and place a large bucket at the other side of the playing area for all players to use. Add some of your own challenges and you’ve got a great birthday party!

Minute to Win It

Throw a Minute to Win It party and challenge your friends to try and complete wild and wacky challenges in a minute or less! Choose a selection of games for the challenges using ordinary household objects as props. To play the Mummy Game, have the player take the loose end of a roll of toilet paper and hold it in their hand. The roll is held on a holder, broom stick, or by another player next to them. When the clock starts the player must spin around as fast as they can as the toilet paper wraps around them. The winner is the most covered mummy at the end of one minute. In Skittle Scurry, a large bowl of Skittles is set at one side of the table while a cup is placed on the other end. Give the player a straw and on the start of go, they have one minute to suck as many Skittles as they can onto their straw (one at a time) and race it over to drop it in their cup. At the end of one minute, their Skittles are added up and the places are given based on who collected the most. In Cup Hands, each player must place a party cup over each hand and stack as many dice as they can on top of each other in one minute. The player with the highest tower wins.

Totally 80’s Party

Relive the loud colors, extreme fashion, sky-high hair, and music of the 80’s. To throw an 80’s birthday party, you’ll want to include as many 80’s ideas and items as you can. Make a playlist with songs and music by Michael Jackson, Madonna, Air Supply, Prince, Bon Jovi, and U2, to name a few. Have the teens dress in the 80’s style by wearing legwarmers, spandex, dark sun glasses, side ponytails, high tops, excessive rubber bracelets, finger-less gloves, male earrings and shoulder pads. Award prizes to the teen with the funkiest outfit, loudest make-up, biggest hair, and most rubber bracelets. Some other fun contests are break dancing contest, lip-syncing contest, air guitar, and moon-walking contests. If you’d like to have some 80’s movies playing in the background consider titles such as 16 Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Revenge of the Nerds and Breakfast Club. Your teen’s 80’s birthday party is sure to be totally awesome!

Outdoor Movie Party

If your teen loves the idea of spending a night under the stars with their best friends, an outdoor movie party is the way to go! Set up a movie screen outside, or use the side of your house, get a projector, and a couple of your teen’s favorite movies. They might even prefer to binge a little on Netflix! Decorate the outside area with white string lights to add a festive glow. Provide plenty of indoor/outdoor pillows and comfy lawn chairs. Set up a concession stand complete with a Jelly Belly bar and a popcorn bar. Use the jellybeans and other treats to have a cupcake decorating contest. Have a jellybean blind taste test where the blind-folded person has to guess the flavor of each jellybean as they are fed to him/her. To add a little salty to all of that sweetness, provide a variety of popcorn flavors such as buttered, white cheddar and caramel. Play a game of How Many? by placing jellybeans in a jar— let the winner take the jar home!

Laurie is a busy mother of four who loves travelling and spending time anywhere outdoors from the Blue Ridge mountains to the sandy white beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.

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