I remember a time before the “Sweet 16” birthday party was really a phenomenon. The sixteenth birthday, much like the fifteen that came before it, was just a time for a normal celebration, a birthday party like every other. While many Spanish-speaking areas have celebrated the quinceañera, a special fifteenth birthday party for young women, for literally thousands of years, and while the upper classes have thrown debutante balls for quite a while as well, the tradition of the sweet sixteen is a relatively new one. Here are some tips to throwing a great sixteenth birthday party.
- Figure out who you’re inviting. Don’t be mean – if you’re throwing a big birthday party, it’s best not to be too exclusive about who you invite.
- Pick a theme.
- Figure out what the food is going to be. This is probably the most expensive part of the party, but it might also be one of the most memorable. It’s best to consult with the person you’re throwing the party for at every step of the way, but it’s especially important with the food – an adult may think that everyone wants filet mignon when they actually just want Chipotle.
- Plan and hire the entertainment. In terms of importance, entertainment is a close second to food. The birthday girl or boy probably isn’t going to want a bounce house or a clown (they grow up so fast!), but there are plenty of great entertainment options available for those slightly older. A dance floor and a DJ is a classic option for bigger parties, as is a photo booth hire.
It’s worth being creative! Your daughter or son might want to have a truly out-of-the-box sweet sixteen party. A friend’s daughter once threw a soccer party – the kids went in the middle of the afternoon to an indoor soccer field and had a real blast. The whole event was over by 5 P.M. These are the kinds of ideas you should allow yourself to entertain in the planning process.
Above all, though, it’s more important to make sure that your daughter or son is going to have a good time than it is to make sure that they’re surprised by the kind of party you throw. For many, the teen years are socially and psychologically difficult: people change so much. Six months ago, they may have thought they wanted a huge party, but when the time comes to start hiring catering and entertainment, they may realize that they just want an intimate gathering with friends and family. Being attentive to the birthday girl or boy’s desires and needs is the best way to make sure that her or his sweet sixteen is a smashing success!