Birthday Party Theme: Cool Ideas for Your Tween or Teen

By Sam McDade-Wray, Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree Publisher June 24, 2015

We are officially the parents of tweens! And well, this age is a different ball game when it comes to parties, holidays (think Santa Claus), and more. No longer babies but not quite teens, we need to come up with some new ideas when it comes to celebrations like birthday parties!

This got me thinking that many of our readers are likely in the same place so I thought we would venture down this road together. Here are some ideas for your tween's birthday soirée.


No doubt your tween has some ideas of their own. What better way to teach them planning skills than getting them involved in planning their own party! Start off with some party planning basics:

  • Theme & Activities – What would they like to do? 
  • Invitees – How many kids would they like to invite? Is it a same sex party or will you include both girls and boys?
  • Budget – What is the budget? What are the priorities for the party?

Boy Party Themes

  • Nerf/Water Balloons/Lazer Tag Wars. Boys love "battles" and tag. Have the kids build bases outdoors (preferably) or in house from sheets, cardboard boxes, tape, and string. Allow four outs and the team with the base standing at the end wins!
  • Obstacle Course. Set up a course in your yard or at a local park. There are lots of options using skateboards, skates, bikes, scooters, or just your feet to go in and out of obstacles. Use what you have and have fun. Remind everyone to bring helmets if you'll be on wheels.
  • Space. Build rockets and launch them outdoors. Hobby Lobby has some great kits. Watch Apollo 13 and eat moon pies. Put up glow-in-the-dark space mobiles or create glowing constellations on the wall for a sleepover.
  • Camping (Indoors or Outdoors). Tents outside. Blankets over your outdoor playset. Hot dogs, s'mores, and stories around the fire.

Girl Party Themes

  • Spa/Makeup. Gather your nail polish, cucumber slices, bath robes, and more! Scale this party from simple facials to the full deal with mani and pedi stations.
  • Fashion Show/Photo Booth. Raid your closet, your friends' closets, and maybe even the local thrift store, and let the girls dress up! Use hats, scarfs/boas, old holiday dresses, jewelry, and more. Let them dress up and show off their style ... then turn the camera loose to capture the moment!
  • Pick a Color. Everything at the party follows the color. For example, a "Red" party might include everyone dressing in red, eating red foods (pepperoni pizza, raspberries, apples, Hot Tamales), and participating in a scavenger hunt (see below) for red items. For variations on this, you could choose a shape or a specific theme, like "Backward."

Multi-Age and Family Party Themes

  • Spy/Scavenger Hunt. Divide guests into teams with 3-4 kids per team. Give the kids a list, a bag or pillow case, and a time limit, and let them loose.
  • 60s Theme Party. Dress up for that decade. Play The Beatles and other music from that time. Learn dances from that time and of course, decorate as you will (think lava lamps and beaded curtains)! Tie-dye T-shirts, anyone? Go disco for the 70s or neon/punk/Flashdance for the 80s!
  • Backyard Party and Talent Show. Start off with great music and food. Then get everyone to perform something. A grab bag with ideas is an option. Judges judge (think American Idol) and award prizes for the best, most creative, most entertaining, etc.   
  • Pizza and Movies. Set up a Pizza Prep bar with all the fixin's and make your own pizza. Pick an age-appropriate movie. If it is summer, rent a projector and blow up screen for outside (or hang a white sheet on your fence). When it is time for the popcorn, enjoy a popcorn bar with yummy toppings like extra butter, herbs, cinnamon, or cheese.

Make Memories

  • Take lots of pictures! Have disposable cameras on hand or a try a photo booth with dress-up items and props.
  • Decorate a keepsake for the birthday kid, like a banner or picture frame.
  • Be sure to keep track of gifts to make sending thank you notes easier. Include a picture of each guest with the thank you note to make it extra special.