Birthday Party Ideas & Themes for Preteens – ModernMom

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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Sleepover Party Birthday Ideas – ModernMom

Attending or throwing a sleepover birthday party can be a rite of passage for many preteen and teenage children. Spending a night away from home shows that they are old enough to be away from their parents while giving them a chance to bond with other children their own age. Unfortunately, slumber parties can get out of hand when bored children start teasing and playing pranks on each other. Keep your child’s sleepover running smoothly by planning structured activities for the guests.

Establish Ground Rules

Limit the number of guests your child can invite to her party. Unless you have a lot of patience and a large house, you probably do not want her to invite every girl in her grade to her birthday sleepover. If you can keep it under 10 guests, it should be manageable. Be clear with your child that you will not tolerate pranks at her party. Although part of the fun of sleepovers is staying up late, set a time for lights out and stick to it. Parents usually don’t appreciate having to deal with an overtired and groggy child the next day.

Pick a Theme

Theme parties tend to be more fun. Choose a popular movie, era or an activity your child enjoys to serve as the theme. Select the menu and decorate the birthday cake with the theme in mind. Depending on the children’s age, ask them to come dressed to match the theme. For instance, if the sleepover has a 1980s theme, tell them to dress in leggings, oversized shirts and neon colors. Pick the games and activities based on them as well. Of course, if the theme is a favorite movie, you should rent the DVD and show it.

Structure the Activities

Plan a few structured activities for the party, based on your child’s interests. For instance, if your child likes crafts, set up a craft table and have the guests make something, such as a necklace or collage to take home. If it is warm out and your child likes sports, have the children play a game outside before it gets too dark. You can also put out some party board games, such as Twister or Pictionary, for the guests to play.

Plan the Menu

Keep the food at the party simple and find out about any food allergies before planning the menu. You may want to schedule the party so that it starts after dinner, that way you won’t have to worry about serving both dinner and breakfast. Serve birthday cake and ice cream and set out bowls of chips and other snacks. Clear away the snacks after a certain point so that the children aren’t munching on snacks all night. Serve a fun breakfast, such as chocolate chip pancakes or blueberry muffins.

Ready to Sleep

Schedule quiet activities an hour or two before lights out. Arrange the sleeping bags in a circle and have the guests climb in. Let them tell ghost stories or silly tales to each other. You can also lower the lights and put on a movie to help them fall asleep. After the movie is over, sneak back in and turn off the TV and turn out the lights. Don’t worry if some guests stay up late chatting. As long as they are not running around and screaming, everything will be fine.

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Fun Birthday Party Ideas for Teens – ModernMom

Gone are the days of Sponge Bob cakes and pirate pinatas. Birthday parties for teenagers demand a whole new planning process, from themes to activities, location to guest list policies. Make the event fun for both you and your teen by allowing your teenager to have some control over the birthday party, such as the guest list, the party snacks or the activities, as long as the plans meet with your budget and your approval.


Some teen birthday parties take place at home, but they do feature special activities, such as a backyard picnic or a movie projected on a large screen. Off-site parties may take place at a recreation center or park, or they may center around a location offering a special activity, such as laser tag, amusement park rides, miniature golf, bowling, rock climbing or roller skating.


Teen parties tend to leave plenty of time for socializing. A slumber party may feature conversational games and activities, such as Truth or Dare, or telling ghost stories. The birthday party may also include dancing. Consider emulating a nightclub by setting up a room with glow-in-the-dark decorations, glow sticks, blacklight, lava lamps, bubble machines, dry ice and fog machines. Hire a teenage deejay to mix music for the dance party.


Even if you plan a basic or traditional party, you can give it some zing by give it a special or creative theme. Look to current television shows and movies for inspiration. Turn a basic talent show into “American Idol” by having a panel of supportive, yet funny, judges. Rather than simply screen a video, lay down a red carpet and follow the movie with an Oscar Awards ceremony. Make a Trivial Pursuit game into a game show with silly prizes.

Time Frame

Original and fun teen birthday parties often stretch longer than a child’s birthday party. A murder mystery party requires time for the drama to unfold, as well as snacks to get eaten. A craft party demands that everyone has a chance to finish two or three small projects, or one larger project. Allow at least three hours for the party.


Maximize the fun by minimizing your worries. Before putting on a birthday party for a teenager, consider your budget and the quantity of guests. Be firm in your decisions regarding if the party will be coed and if it will last overnight. Larger parties will require additional parents to chaperon the event.

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