If you’re a teen or the parent of one, you know that a lot can change over the span of a few years, and fast. One minute, you’re being dropped off at kindergarten, and the next, you’re being asked where you’re applying to college. But when your birthday comes around, one thing’s for sure: no one grows out of enjoying a majorly fun birthday party with all their BFFs in attendance.
So, how can you make sure your (or your teen’s) upcoming birthday party reflects the times and hits the perfect balance between not-yet-an-adult and no-longer-a-kid? From sports-themed parties to a decked-out movie night the birthday teen will always remember, we’ve compiled a list of five teenage birthday party ideas teens and their friends will love—and some party food and invitation ideas you won’t want to sleep on.
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Find the ultimate teen birthday theme
When it comes to teen party ideas, pirates and princesses are usually replaced with new interests and aesthetics that match their growing personalities and sense of individual style. That doesn’t mean you still can’t plan a G.O.A.T. party.
The first step in planning a teen’s birthday party is determining a birthday party theme that aligns with their interests. And since teens are often quite opinionated on their likes and dislikes, you’ll want to discuss the plan with them, above all. Here are a few ideas to consider:
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1. The sleepless sleepover
There’s not much in this world a teenager enjoys more than staying up as late as possible and then sleeping in the following morning. Why not tap into their favorite hobby by hosting a sleepless slumber party for them and a few of their closest friends?
Send out sleepover-themed invites and then start planning party options for the big (and very long) night. A few activities that’ll be a great idea to keep them giggling and gloriously busy include:
- Teen-friendly card games, like “The Best Friend Game” or “Would You Rather for Teens.”
- Setting up a gaming console in their room so they can play their favorite video or VR games.
- Organizing a nail-painting station so they can swap manicures, pedicures, and the latest gossip.
After their sleepless night, the group of partygoers will probably be ravenous. Make sure they leave happy and sated with a surprise waffle station breakfast. Waffles are one of those breakfast staples that pair well with both savory and sweet. Bust out the waffle iron and offer all of the delectable accouterments, like fresh fruit, caramel and chocolate sauces, and whipped cream, plus fried chicken and bacon for those who crave something savory. Let the party-goers embrace their inner chef while making their handcrafted waffle creations, and serve them up on some fun plates.
“KSNY Pool Party” by kate spade new york for Paperless Post; Clear Rainbow Chaise Loungers by FUNBOY, available at the Party Shop.
2. The action-packed afternoon
Adding some action to the birthday party can help to keep everyone energized and entertained throughout the celebration. Depending on the activities the birthday teen enjoys, you can plan a party around one (or several) of these locations:
- The pool: The pool is a perfect place to live it up and celebrate, but it also offers opportunities for more low-key moments when the teen and their friends can just be themselves while lounging by the water (on matching pool floats, natch). Serve up mocktails and snacks, bring the pool volleyball set, and grab a waterproof portable speaker for some poolside tunes.
- Go-karts: This activity can add a real rush to the celebration. See if the location has a space to rent where the group can hang out in between laps and bring decor to spruce it up. For food, opt for cupcakes and bite-sized hors d’oeuvres the racers can grab in between laps. As a bonus, some go-karting locations also offer laser tag, mini golf, and arcade games, allowing the party to transition easily from one fun activity to the next.
- A VR experience: It’s safe to say that most teens know their tech—so why not celebrate with a virtual reality experience? If there’s a virtual reality gaming center near you, you can book an experience for the birthday group to enjoy together. These centers usually offer several different games or VR themes to choose from, allowing you to select one that perfectly caters to your teen’s taste.
Image via Crazy Wonderful; “Movie Star for a Day” by Mr. Boddington’s Studio for Paperless Post.
3. The private movie screening
Lights, camera, action!
If your teen has a passion for indie films or they fashion themselves to be the next Spielberg, a private movie showing might be the perfect birthday party idea. Here are some keys to making this theme a success:
- Plan your premiere location: If you have a suitable space in your home, you can roll out the red carpet and set up a movie theatre in-house with plenty of cushions and bean bag chairs for seating. Or, you can call up your local theater to see if they rent out a screening room for special occasions.
- Set the movie schedule: Ask the future director to choose the film they’d like to watch. Would they prefer a timeless classic or today’s hottest flick?
- Send movie-themed invites: Finally, send everyone the details of this premiere event with a movie-inspired invitation.
“Karaoke Machine” by Paperless Post; Image by Pexels.
4. The karaoke party
While some teens prefer to play it low-key, others might feel the world’s their stage—and a karaoke party is a perfect way to step into the spotlight.
Whether you choose to set the stage at home with shimmery garlands and neon lights, or you decide to rent a karaoke room, teens will have a blast singing their favorite bops at this dance party.
Before you send out customized karaoke-themed invitations with the details of your Grammy-worthy affair, be sure to sort out the basics of your dance party, including:
- Choosing a theme: Make it even more exciting by choosing a musical theme that coincides with the party. Themes that fit seamlessly with karaoke include rock’n’roll, boy and girl bands, and music through the ages. Or, if your teen has a particular favorite decade of music, you can roll with their decade of choice.
- Finding fun prizes: Bring a little friendly competition into the mix by creating superlatives like “best dressed,” “best singer,” and “best dancer.” The winners can take home a party favor of your (and your teen’s) choosing.
Soccer plates by Oh Happy Day; “Balling Out” by Hello!Lucky for Paperless Post.
5. The sports party
A sports-themed party will score you a touchdown with a sports-enthused teen and their friends. From football to baseball to everything in between, you can incorporate their love for their favorite pastime into their next birthday party—starting with sports-themed invitations.
If you’re interested in turning your living room into a spectacular sports event party room, here are a few tips to make sure your party is a hole-in-one:
- Find the right party supplies: Find a few athletic decorations and work your party planning magic. Pick up some sports-themed plates and balloons to get everyone into the sporty spirit of the theme.
- Set up a video game console: From kids to adults, everyone loves a good video game competition. Set up a console in the living room with some of your teen’s favorite sports-related video games, like FIFA, Madden NFL, or the classic NBA Jam.
- Bring out the sports equipment: If you’ve got room in your yard, find some basketballs or footballs. Nothing makes a sports party more like a sports party than the opportunity to throw some balls around.
Bring a strong food game with these flavorful ideas
Once you’ve picked a theme, it’s time to focus on the food spread and how you plan to present it. Sweet treats and cool eats can suit any theme, so offering a fanciful food spread is going to be your party-planning bread and butter.
Satisfy partygoers with some of these teen-approved food ideas that’ll make sure your party hits differently:
- Create a concession stand: A concession stand is a thematic way to show off your spread of delicious snacks, especially if you’re opting for a sports-themed party or having a movie-night party at your house. Stock up on those cute little individual-sized popcorn bags and fill ’em up, grab some classic candy favorites, and lay out some old-school glass bottles of soda. Don’t forget to make a “concession stand” sign to set the mood.
- Decorate a doughnut wall: It’s every sweet tooth lover’s dream come true, and it pairs perfectly with almost any party theme—brunch, sleepover, karaoke, and so much more. Buy a doughnut wall and hang it up as your party’s edible centerpiece. For extra points, find a donut store with unique donut flavors, like candied maple bacon and lemon meringue.
- Host a hot dog corner: You read that right—a hot dog corner. Because no party is complete without an entire corner devoted to everything hot dog-related, from the dogs themselves to all of the mouth-watering fixings you put on top. Fill up some festive plates with a bun and an all-beef frank (or turkey or vegan) and line up the toppings in an array of cute little jars.
Create custom teen birthday party invitations
What better way to build up some hype for your teen’s upcoming birthday bash than with an invitation that pairs perfectly with their theme? Paperless Post’s online birthday invitations are customizable, so you can tailor them to inform everyone of the important party details, like:
- The venue information
- The time the party starts and ends
- Any additional special information, such as a dress code or anything they’ll need to bring for the party
What’s more, you can customize your design to match your party’s theme. From the invitation’s backdrop to the size, color, and style of the font, you can design the invitation exactly how you envisioned it.
Make planning your teen’s birthday party seamless with Paperless Post
Welcome to the simplicity of planning your teen’s ultimate birthday party, where your biggest concerns are whether you should order two or three dozen hot dogs for your hot dog corner (or doughnuts for your doughnut wall).
Whether you’re throwing a classic sweet 16 celebration or a fanciful quinceanera Paperless Post is happy to take one big item off of your to-do list—the invitations. Send your personalized invitations and download our app to easily manage the party directly from your phone.
Send invites via text message, track RSVPs in seconds, message individual guests with any questions you have, and broadcast updates to all your guests at once. That’s surely some tech-savvy any teen would be proud of.