Finding great teen birthday party ideas can feel a bit daunting.
After all, they’re not seven years old anymore. So a unicorn, princess, Lego, or a favorite character’s birthday party theme is just not going to cut it any longer.
You need to be a little more clever about your teen birthday party themes, the entertainment, and the party games they play.
I will let you in on a big secret though.
This post may contain affiliate links.
Teenagers are under a lot of pressure to be more like young adults but they still want to play like little kids sometimes.
Since they may not feel like they can let loose without being made fun of, a birthday party kind of gives them that permission to play, be crazy, and have fun. They’ve got carte blanche to act like a kid.
After all, when kids go to Youth Group at church, it just wouldn’t be the same without the games they play, that’s the same with a birthday party for teens.
They need to get that energy out one way or the other.
Teen Birthday Party Tips
I guess I can only speak from my limited experience with planning teenage parties for my girls, but all in all, the same 3 party secrets apply whether you’re planning a party for a 2-year-old or an 18-year-old.
Plan it with them
Don’t think because they’re older that they don’t need your help, games to play, decorations, party favors, or a good party schedule that will keep things moving.
Planning a birthday celebration together can be a great way to keep the lines of communication open and connect with your teens. They’re at an age at which they need to see how much you actually care about them.
And putting some effort into their birthdays means a whole lot to them. Whether or not they show it.
I always use my party planner as a first step to make sure that I don’t forget anything and the party runs smoothly. It’s really a pretty cool tool and I’d like it even if I wasn’t its author.
It’s only a couple of clicks away if you’d like to download it and use it to plan your next great party.
Take a more active role the day of
The media has given a bad name to teenage birthday parties. The crazy drunken teenage parties that you see on TV shows may happen, but only because the parents are not present.
One of my friends’ neighbors were out of town and their teenage son asked to have a couple of his friends over, which his parents agreed to. But somehow, word got out throughout the school that he was having a huge party and close to two hundred teenagers showed up and completely trashed the house 😱. Of course, the police were called and all the kids scattered but by then the damage was done.
So it does happen, but thankfully this is more the exception than the rule.
It’s a great idea to be present at your teen birthday parties, if only to refill the popcorn bowl and make sure things don’t get out of hand.
We take more of an active hosting position for our parties where we run the games and the schedule and make our teenagers feel like they are being celebrated not only by their friends but also by us.
Are we cool parents? I’m not sure, but I sure feel like one after each party.
Whatever your approach is to your teenagers’ parties, you will find some fun party themes below to spark that awesome idea and start your planning process.
1- The Amazing Race Party
If your family has been a fan of the show Amazing Race on CBS, then an amazing race birthday party might just be what you and your teen have been looking for.
Not only does this kind of party get the brain going, but it’s also very active and fun.
The idea of putting together clues and a whole game circuit might feel a little overwhelming but I have a very complete guide on how to successfully plan an amazing race birthday party from start to finish. It contains a complete printable party package and lots of challenges ideas.
One of the advantages of an amazing race party is that it can accommodate a rather large number of kids since you can break the party guests down into teams of two to 6 people.
We ended up having five teams of five and it was just about perfect.
One of my customers told me she planned a family Amazing Race with a hundred and fifty people so you’re not limited by how many guests you can invite.
Find lots more Amazing Race party tips here
2- Sweet Donut Party
What is sweeter for a sweet 16 than donuts? I guess you could do an ice cream party theme too but a donut party is what we chose.
Because, really, who doesn’t like donuts?
Decorating a donut bar was actually pretty easy and a lot of fun.
We got the kids going with some fun outdoor games, I like an ice cream sundae relay, and they exercised their teenage angst thrashing the extra tough homemade donut piñata my husband made.
If you’re going to have a piñata for teenagers it’s not a good idea to buy one at the big party store. Those piñatas are designed for young kids to be able to break; teenagers have a lot more power in their swing.
The best way to buy a piñata is to go to a smaller Mexican party store where you’ll find awesome piñatas made by professional Piñateros. You’ll find that they’re much bigger and stronger than the ones you can find at Walmart or Party City.
Fortunately, making a piñata can be something your teens can likely do by themselves with either cardboard or papier-mache. They may need a little help from a family member, but piñatas are fun projects that allow them to flex a little creative muscle.
More of our Donut Party:
3- Outdoor Movie Night Party
Movie birthday parties are great fun for teenagers, especially if you do it outdoors on a big screen.
Everything about a movie party speaks to the teenage heart. Especially if your teen is at that stage where they don’t want to play “little kids games”, sitting down with friends, having some great food, and watching a fun movie can be all they need.
Friends, hot dogs, shakes, popcorn, sodas, candy, nachos, how can you go wrong?
Some fun decorations like a light up movie marquee are a great addition and really make you feel like you’re at an old style movie theater.
The big popcorn machine I borrowed from church was also a great hit.
The birthday girl or boy will feel like you pulled the red carpet out just for them.
learn more here:
4- Tropical Party
A tropical party is always a fun theme.
When your guests arrive, giving them a lei to wear will set the fun tone for the party.
Get a limbo stick, play some great music and some fun games like pass the pineapple, and your teens will have a great time.
You can also check out:
5- Teenage Pool Party for Summer
If you have access to a pool, a pool party can be the perfect theme for a summer bash.
You can play some active, competitive swimming games or just like them splash at will. Since they’ll get lots of exercise, make sure that you have plenty of food and water on hand for that teenage appetite.
We had a pool party when the kids were much younger and it was a blast.
You can also check out:
6- Escape Room Party for the adventurer
Escape rooms have been popping up all over the place over the past few years. It’s proof that people really love a good puzzle to solve.
The concept is simple. Your guests will be confined to a room or area and they will need to find and solve puzzles to finish the game. It usually involves some kind of lock, whether a physical or virtual lock. And the search for clues will remind you of a treasure hunt or a scavenger hunt.
You can of course pay for your whole party to go to a professional escape room but depending on the number of guests you have it could be a rather expensive affair.
With a little help from some clever Etsy sellers, you can set up a fun escape room at home very inexpensively.
Choose an escape room pack that sounds like fun and build the party decoration around that theme. They have all kinds of escape room party themes from zombie parties, Egyptian mummies, space-themed parties, detective parties, and even an 80s party or a baking party.
I’ve also found this mom who built this whole amazing Egyptian themed party around an escape room pack she bought online. You’ve got to see it!
7- Dance Party
I loved to go to dance parties as a teenager. I think that’s one of those tried and true awesome party theme that never gets old. My teens are just like me and love to dance too. That’s why a dance party is absolutely in our future.
You can also have some fun with your dance party theme. You could make it a neon party with lots of glow sticks and glow in the dark balloons and decorations, or make it a period theme, like a 50s or 80s party and turn it into a costume party.
My daughter sings all day long at the top of her lungs so we will be totally also renting a Karaoke machine. As long as you carefully plan some great music in your playlist, you’ll have no trouble getting teens to move and have fun.
8- Low-key Board Game Party
So maybe your teen doesn’t want a big party and wants to keep everything low-key. In that case a board game party with a few close friends can be just as fun as a big party.
When choosing a game, would recommend you go with what your teenagers’ interests are or their favorite game.
I know my girls have had lots of fun time playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends. I still don’t understand the game but I guess I don’t have to. I can hear their laughter and that’s all that matters to me.
If you need some more good ideas you can go check out my list of 5 hilarious board games for big groups.
Get more ideas here:
I sure hope you found some fun teenage birthday party ideas that resonated with you that will make your teen’s next birthday celebration an awesome one.
Don’t forget to pin it these epic teen birthday party ideas: