Teen Birthday Party Ideas that Won't Break the Bank

Kids worry their party will “Tank” or no one will show up. Parents don’t want to host a lame party, nor do we want to sell out and allow stuff that we’re not comfortable with just so the kids think it’s cool. I only had two teenagers so don’t profess to be an expert but here are some of our thoughts on hosting a hot party for cool kids.

I really had parties sorted when our kids were little. We packed a mean party bag that only cost us only pennies, and nailed the Thomas the tank engine cake –even that tricky shade of blue!
We did the fairy princess thing and our pirate parties were the stuff of legend.
Give us a weepy guest or a non joiner - inner and we’d have them passing the parcel like there was no tomorrow. We coped with vomiters, non eaters, over eaters and allergies – if you’ve done home parties you’ll know what I’m talking about. And we only had to call an ambulance that one time ,(silly boy shouldn’t have been jumping off it anyway…he was fine, truly).

Then we hit the teens and parties became more complicated, but here are some ideas from what we learned hosting parties for our own teens and from running MANY youth events. 

Keep it physically and morally safe without too many rules – that means you have to keep them busy, have an adult present, ban alcohol and make it difficult for them to pair off or slip away.

Teens love adrenaline- it’s a natural high – give them something active to do

We had 16 teens around at night for a massive game of spotlight and capture the flag in our wild dark garden, followed by a bonfire, it worked really well as boys and girls all joined in with huge enthusiasm and lots of noise – only minor injuries too, so a real success- you could do this at a local park and finish with a barbecue.

Water is cheap and so much fun - Get the kids to create a waterslide if you have a garden with a slope or hit the pools as their waterslides are also good for an adrenaline kick; you could take a group of teens on a night excursion to the pool and use the on site barbecue to feed em all..
Water fights- make it large scale, have water balloons, as well as buckets and water guns, set up refilling stations, and choose a landscape for them to hunt and hide in.

Scary movies-girls in particular, seem attracted to scary flicks – use your discretion on this one – scary doesn’t have to mean violent or yucky.

Fire - bonfires are like magnets for teenagers – light a bonfire, haul out some camping chairs, stock up on marshmallows and let the young -uns to chill, chat and so on till far later than you’d like – buy loads of cheap light sticks, see what they do with them…

Scavenger hunts – fast moving, all action scavenger hunts can be fun for teens, include photo challenges, purchasing something weird, proving they went someplace, have a few mock punishments lined up too – drink the yucky drink or do 20 push-ups cos you were supposed to find a receipt for pizza hut and this is from Dominoes … you get the idea…

Hang out at home – Project movies onto a wall, do karaoke, singstar, guitar hero or whatever they’re into – best for a small group of “Besties” so you don’t have the shy one calling home for a pick up.

Movie and DVD marathons – Make sure the movies are age appropriate, let them stay up really really late, cos that’s half the fun.

You'll need a lot if you have boys coming. Don't forget plenty of savoury, filling stuff. Snacks and the usual chips and nibbly stuff early in the piece then later on you'll need something more substantial but that can be eaten with fingers (teenagers are too cool for cutlery). Mini burgers or sliders, Sushi, Pizza, Chicken Nibbles, Sausage Rolls...Avoid things that require batch cooking or borrow extra equipment. A waffle breakfast to finish off a sleepover might be epic, but only if you borrow extra waffle irons as otherwise the wait for each one to cook will be interminable. 

Many families have cake traditions, if not cupcakes are good option as you can do the happy birthday candle song thing; then they can take their "cake" home if they don't want to eat it on the spot. Boys in our family seem keener on a dessert than a cake- Banoffee pie or profiteroles are good options – let’s face it you can stick candles in anything, just don’t embarrass them. You can always do the family cake tradition just with the family if your young-uns are deeply self conscious.

In winter a crock pot of warm spiced hot chocolate or mulled orange juice is a welcome warming luxury after roaring around outside, in Summer a non alcoholic sangria is a bit more grown up than punch and looks a bit special with sliced fruit etc.


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