Gone are the days of princess cakes and pirate ships. No longer can you just invite the whole class and whip together a set of games in the backyard. Your teenage daughter has a new set of demands, ranging from the perfect party to the best gift. Work with your teen to put together an unforgettable sweet 16 without losing your mind or half your bank account.
Go Big or Go Home
Sweet 16s can carry a heavy burden of expectations, depending on your child’s interests and what all his friends have done. As fickle as teens can be, don’t assume you know either way. Ask her upfront what she wants, either grand soirée with the entire student body or a simple night at home with a few close friends. Talking honestly about her expectations will limit any emotional letdowns later.
Out and About
The location of the party can play a huge part in pulling off an affair to remember. Unlike in birthday parties of old, your teen will be less impressed with a thinly veiled backyard or basement that has been “transformed” into a ballroom or dance floor. Rent out a favorite local restaurant or community center for the effect of “going out.” You can even rent a limousine or borrow a fancy convertible for the teen and guests to travel in style.
One of the most emotionally driven elements of the night will be the guests. Depending on your child’s personality, he may just want his buddies around so he can be himself or he may want to make the party coed and invite his favorite young ladies. Set limits early about the behavior you expect at the coed party. Plan games, hire a DJ and fill the night with events, so that hormones and boredom don’t drag the affair down to a night of hurt feelings. You can leave room for some parent-free games of Truth or Dare and Spin the Bottle, if you feel so inclined, but guide the night by stepping in with cake or presents at the proper time.
Make a Scene
Sometimes, the joy of the night is making it all about your teen. Plan a special moment or two that will focus all the attention on her. If you have a large-scale gift to give, you may want to present it in the course of the party. A speech or special dance can also accomplish the goal of highlighting the birthday girl.
Grand affairs call for sophisticated foods. Now is a great time to teach your child how to behave at a formal event. Serving mini hors devours sets the tone for a grown-up event. Don’t forget that even the most mature teens are kids at heart, so don’t shy away from pizza, burgers, milkshakes, cake, ice cream and other familiar stand-bys.
- opening the gift image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com