Birthday Party Ideas & Themes for Preteens


As your child hits the preteen years, usually between the ages of 9 and 12, you may notice that she wants different things for her birthday party. Gone are the days when playing Bingo, hiring a clown and eating birthday cake were good enough. The preteen years are when your child will start to discover who she really is. Plan a party with her that will let her express who she is and what she likes right now.

Picking a Theme

Let your preteen pick the theme of the party. Offer her suggestions, based on her interests. For instance, if she is into whatever film franchise is popular at the moment, suggest that as a theme. You can also suggest an activity she enjoys, such as music or sports, as the party’s theme. Since many preteens are itching to grow up, you may want to suggest a glamorous party theme, such as Hollywood or theater.

Activities Based on the Theme

The party’s theme should dictate the activities you and your preteen pick. For instance, bowling at a cheerleading-themed party would seem out of place, but having a cheer contest would fit right in. Movie trivia games and watching films work well for Hollywood or movie franchise-themed parties while having a mini-jam session or karaoke will suit a music-themed party well.

Party On the Town

Once your child hits the preteen years, you may feel more comfortable taking him and a few of his friends out. Have the central attraction of a sports theme party be a trip to see a professional baseball or basketball game. Take your preteen and some of her friends to see their favorite band. Get a block of tickets for them in one row and a ticket for yourself and your partner a few rows behind.

Size of the Party

If you hold the party at home, you can invite more guests than if you took your preteen and a few of her friends out somewhere. Remember other parties you threw for your child and think of how comfortable you felt watching the guests at those. Use your comfort level at past parties as a way to determine the current party’s size. You may want to bring a friend with you to help chaperon a party on the town, especially if your preteen begs to be allowed to invite five or six friends.


Keep decorations for your preteen’s birthday simple and thematically linked. Drape an inexpensive cloth tablecloth over the food table or use a disposable plastic one. Look for plates and cups that match the theme or choose solid-colored ones, preferably in your child’s favorite shade. Hang posters around the party room that match the theme, such as famous sports stars. Sprinkle a few balloons around the room, but keep an eye on guests to make sure they don’t try to suck the helium out of the balloons.

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