Birthday Parties for Teens

Hands down my favorite little kid birthday parties were Isaac’s fifth birthday Faux Slumber Party and Isabelle’s fourth birthday Princess Tea. Party attire, activities, games, and snacks were all done to theme. It was so much fun to plan and execute. And the pictures from those parties are priceless to me. I also really enjoyed the Laser tag and Chuck E. Cheese parties that followed the next year while I recovered from the prior year’s epic events. Despite the growing popularity of social media, as my kids got older, they didn’t really want a Pinterest inspired birthday party. But we still needed a way to celebrate birthdays and set them apart from just a regular day hanging out with friends and family. Here are our family favorite teenager birthday parties:

 Murder Mystery/Costume Party

You can buy murder mystery kits, find story lines online for free, or even create your own mystery to solve. With each affirmative RSVP, assign a role for that guest to play at the party. This gives the teenagers a little time to work on their character and costume which is something my youngest really enjoys. It’s also a good idea to have costumes and props available for guests to add to the fun. If you’re not sure of a guest list, or your teen would rather have a less structured party, costume parties that follow a common theme are also fun. You can even create a more grown up version of a childhood dress-up trunk to help guests get into the fun once they arrive.

Nostalgic Destination

My daughter has a late spring birthday so nearly all of her friends have already celebrated theirs.  When Isabelle turned 13, I expected her to request a party along the lines of some of her friends. Instead she rather sheepishly asked if I would take a group of eight of her friends to Build-A-Bear one last time.  They had so much fun and it turns out, Build-A-Bear did a great job of understanding what to emphasis at a party for older kids. Most of the girls had been there when they were little and they all had fun talking about the difference between then and now.

Trying Out A New Interest

When the kids were little, picking a birthday party theme was easy because they were always really into something like dinosaurs or Hello Kitty. But with early teenagers, a party can become a chance to check out something new. Maybe they have never played golf but would love a chance to go to an indoor golf range. It’s also a good time to get a jump on healthy skincare and make-up application by booking a professional appointment for a group of friends instead of lecturing like a know-it-all mom.  

Someplace They Are Finally Old Enough to Attend!

There are so many fun things to do with teenagers! Unfortunately, sometimes we rush and try something before our kids are ready. Birthday parties are one reason to hold back a little when we might want to leap ahead of what’s really age appropriate. Before the age of 13, neither of my children could stay up to see a movie that started after 7:30 pm and they often didn’t have the patience or temperament for an activity that required either waiting in line or applied patience later in the day. Once they were teenagers, things like drive-ins, midnight movies, escape rooms, or foodie destinations with lines were now an option and made for a fun way to celebrate birthdays.

Regardless of the age of your birthday child, parent supervision is a must. You’re either needed to drive them someplace, pay for something, or even just be an adult present in case of emergency. However, with older children, they need to know you’re around without being forced to acknowledge it, no matter your Cool Mom status. As Isabelle said, teenagers need a chauffeur, but not necessarily a tour guide.

More than anything, when it comes to celebrating teenager’s birthdays, let them take the lead.  Unless you’ve enlisted all the best friends, this is not the time for surprise parties. Also, don’t insist on a big blow-out party regardless of the milestone date if they just aren’t feeling it. This year, we celebrated with our college kid by trekking up to his college town and treating him to a movie, dinner, and restocking his fridge. Isabelle doesn’t want a birthday party this year but she and I will still find a way to celebrate her day. I’ve already found the perfect present and she and I have been creating a list of “grown-up” girls day activities to try. Teen years are every bit as precious as the younger ones so keep on celebrating!


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