Birthday Party Ideas for Tweens
As your child moves toward his teenage years, it can become more and more difficult to find just the right way to celebrate his birthday. With the days of pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs and Barbie cakes well behind them, parents are faced with trying to find clever, fun and age-appropriate birthday party ideas to entertain a bunch of preteens! It isn't always an easy task.
Here are some tips from experts on ways to make the day memorable for your child and his friends.
Linda Salazar of Palos Verdes, Calif., remembers all the fun ideas she and other moms came up with when their children were between 10 and 12. "Some parties were geared mostly toward boys, but others would work for girls as well," she says.
Salazar shares her comprehensive list of fun things to do to celebrate your preteen's birthday:
- Spend the day at an amusement park with one or two friends.
- Go bowling – Most alleys offer organized parties.
- Take your child to a professional sporting event with a friend or two.
- Check out the local ice rinks. You might be able to rent the rink for a private party.
- Take in a "cool flick" and bring the gang back to the house for cake.
- Go to an arcade. They may have batting cages, go carts, miniature golf, video games, pinball machines and more.
- If it's summer, visit the local water park.
- For the really adventurous, try a campout with your child and a bunch of friends. It can be as simple as camping out in the backyard. They can make s'mores on the barbecue, listen to music in their tent, play a board game or just swap ghost stories all night long.
- Make a splash with a pool party. Or if you're lucky enough to be close by, take the gang to the beach. Bring a picnic lunch, some cupcakes with candles and boogie boards.
- Have a sleepover. With a wide variety of videos to watch and lots of junk food, they're always a hit for both boys and girls. If need be, borrow a Playstation or Nintendo and let them play till the wee hours.
"We did the Nintendo sleepover when our son was 10, and they all had a blast," Salazar says. "We had a total of 14 boys! They were even willing to play pin the tail on the donkey, but we didn't have a donkey. Instead, we made a board with some dollar bills on it, things written about their teachers [funny stuff] and other silly things they had to do if they hit it. If they landed on the money, they got to keep it. I think that's what got their enthusiasm up for it."
It's important for parents to remember to communicate with their child about what they would like to do – within your budget – for their birthday. They often need to throw ideas around to see what sounds like the most fun but can still be considered a "cool" party.
Pat Blythe, a party/event planner for It's a Pisces Thing Productions in Orange, N.J., has organized wonderful parties for children who are approaching the pre-teenage years. "It can be really fun to do a Caribbean-theme party, especially during the winter months," she says. "There are companies that will come and braid the girls' hair and add beads for a real 'islandy' effect."
Another very popular pre-adolescent party theme is an Asian-style party. At this party, the central theme would definitely be food – Asian food. Buy some chopsticks and invite a local Asian restaurateur to provide a quick demonstration for the kids. "As a party favor, [give] chopsticks tied with a ribbon that has the name of the child on it," Blythe says. "Make the tag on your computer, and it would be a memorable gift."
Blythe has done many parties with varied themes and enjoys coming up with new ideas. Another favorite of hers is the celebrity-theme party. "Choose the guest of honor's favorite singer and make this person the central theme," she says. "Games would consist of trivia questions about the celebrity. Food would be [the celebrity's] favorite items. Dedicate a half-hour to this singer and play their music. Cool party favors would be a Polaroid picture of this person with each of the guests."
If you go to Kinko's or another copy-type store, you can have them blow up a picture of the celebrity for guests to pose with. Kids will have a blast with this theme.
Mark Morris, public relations director of Hasbro Games of East Longmeadow, Mass., reminds parents that traditional games are always a hit at birthday parties. "Traditional games continue to be very popular because they provide a social interaction unlike any other entertainment," he says. "At a time when consumers have more entertainment options than ever before, traditional games thrive because they are inexpensive and provide a fresh, fun social experience every time they are played."
Twister is a game that remains popular because it's simple fun. It's a game that has remained in the hearts of parents, who have such fond memories of growing up with it and take great pleasure in sharing the craze with their children. A great party game for all ages, Twister can turn a quiet afternoon into a hilarious, memorable event for all.
A board game party with several tables set up for games like Monopoly, Bop-it, Outburst Jr. and other popular kid-oriented games is sure to be a hit with both boys and girls. Have a timer going and switch tables every half-hour. Provide snacks, prizes and music. It's sure to be a hit.
These are the years when kids want to strut their independence, and this is a wonderful way for them to show off their creative side and learn how to organize and plan such a special event. Stand back and enjoy. Be a wallflower for the first time in your child's life. It may just be a lot of fun!