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9 Awesome Sweet 16 Birthday Party Ideas

If you don’t celebrate quinceañeras or bar and bat mitzvahs, a 16th birthday is your excuse to throw a lavish party for your teen. A “sweet 16” birthday party is a milestone event that is meant to be memorable. Celebrate your teen’s big birthday with a personalized, special party that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. After all, you may have to wait until their high school graduation to have another big celebration. Therefore, take a look at these sweet 16 party ideas that are unique and totally unforgettable.

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1. Make it as sweet as possible

Make their Sweet 16 literally sweet by hosting a party inspired by the Instagram-famous Museum of Ice Cream. Even if you can’t visit this dessert-lovers’ mecca, you can recreate it at your party venue. All you need are colorful props; honeycomb decorations; an ice cream sundae bar full of sprinkles, candy, chocolate sauce, and the works; a photo booth; a donut wall,; and dessert-inspired favors like makeup, bath products, or stationery (Target is the perfect place to find these). This is one of those fun Sweet 16 party ideas that lets your imagination run wild. Think of it as a chance to bring the Candyland board-game to life!

2. Celebrate nostalgia

This coming-of-age celebration is the perfect opportunity for a throwback. Dig up some childhood memories and party like it’s the early 2000s! Incorporate your teen’s old favorite cartoons, movies, snacks, and candy. Set up a cereal bar with classics like Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Mini Wheats (and don’t forget the milk alternatives like almond and soy). Invite guests to come dressed as their favorite childhood toys or characters, and snap photos with a Polaroid for an added vintage touch.

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3. Set up or rent a photo booth  

Teens won’t be able to resist a selfie station. For a cheap, do-it-yourself option, set up some PVC pipes and fabric for a cool backdrop. Or, rent a photobooth and let the memory-making begin! For some added fun, purchase foil number balloons so guests can hold a “16” in their photos. You can also throw in props like hats, signs, and silly glasses. Share the photos with everyone digitally or print them out as favors. Come up with a unique hashtag just for the party like #MySweet16Soiree so that everyone can tag their photos with it.

4. Host a pajama party

What is a pajama party doing on a list of Sweet 16 party ideas? Well, their Sweet 16 party might be the last chance your teen has to throw a pajama party — until they’re living in their pajamas in college, of course. Play some relevant movies (like Sixteen Candles or 13 Going on 30) pop some popcorn, break out the board games, and get cozy. For more fun, make it a fashion contest and award a guest with the best pajamas a prize, such as a cute throw pillow or coffee mug.

5. Lock down a sweet venue

The key to hosting the Sweet 16 party of your teen’s dreams is picking the perfect venue. Rather than hosting at your house, consider booking a unique space to really make the occasion special. For example, you could host this coming-of-age celebration in a sleek loft or even a decadent mansion. You can also tailor the venue choice to the birthday teen’s personality — think a theater for a thespian, a bookstore for your avid reader, a studio for a musician or artist, and so on. Peerspace can help you find a venue that fits your teen’s unique style, as well as accommodate a large number of guests.

6. Curate a dynamic playlist

What’s a party without music? Book a local band or DJ for a private birthday concert! Snoop on your teen’s Spotify playlists to get a sense of their music taste so you can surprise them with the perfect entertainment. Then, use booking sites like Gigsalad or The Bash to help you find local talent within your budget. And, if you are going to have music, you may need space for a dance floor. Consider this when booking your venue or setting up your house for the party.

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7. Carry on the 16-candle tradition

One Sweet 16 tradition involves choosing 16 people and dedicating a birthday cake candle to each by sharing kind words about them before lighting the candle. Give this tradition your own spin and give out some superlative awards, or take inspiration from The Office and give out Dundy-style awards (if your guests can handle a roasting). You can get custom trophies from Oriental Trading or create your own plaques with small chalkboards and colorful neon chalk markers.

8. Throw a tea party

If you can find a local tea room that hosts parties, planning will be a breeze. If not, don’t worry. You can do it yourself with enough teapots, cups, saucers, tables, and chairs.  To create the perfect tea party atmosphere, use cloth tablecloths instead of plastic, place flowers on every table, display desserts on three-tiered cake stands, and serve tiny sandwiches and bite-sized desserts like macarons. Encourage guests to dress up in their best clothes (it’s not a tea party without fancy hats!). For a zany party, go for an Alice in Wonderland theme and use whimsical decorations. To host the perfect un-birthday birthday party, check out this guide.

9. Celebrate with a four-legged friend

Cat, bunny, and even rat cafes are popping up in cities all over the country. If you can find one in your local metropolitan area, book your animal-loving teen a party in one of these cafes! And don’t worry — there’s always a separate room designated for cake and coffee. Some cafes even offer party packages complete with custom animal-themed desserts.

Turning 16 years old means a lot of things — like driver’s licenses and first jobs — and this special birthday calls for a spectacular party. Make your teen’s 16th one to remember by being a little bit extra. Choose one of these suggestions and run with it, or combine a few of these Sweet 16 party ideas for one epic bash! 

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