Sweet 16 Party Ideas

By Emily Churchill

Created on June 14, 2016

Of the major celebrations in a girl's life, her sweet 16 is among the first. This coming of age party is one of the most anticipated moments in a young girl's life next to getting a drivers license. To make sure she has a blast, involve the birthday girl in the planning as you set the stage with sweet 16 decorations and party supplies.

Theme Ideas

High Tea

If the birthday girl wants to spend her special day surrounded by her favorite women, host a high tea in a beautiful garden or tearoom with a tea sommelier. Tips to make this an elegant affair:

  • Use an heirloom tea set that the family owns. Alternatively, purchase a new tea set for the birthday girl to keep as a gift.
  • Serve fancy finger foods such as vanilla buttermilk scones, open-faced pumpernickel sandwiches with smoked salmon, cream puffs filled with pumpkin and white chocolate mousse, almond tarts with fruits and caramelized sugar, and chocolate-dipped strawberries.
  • Use teacups filled with different tea blends and matching saucers as party favors.

Masquerade Ball

Rent a local ballroom or dance hall, hire a DJ and enjoy an enchanted evening with familiar strangers. Ask guests to dress elegantly and bring masks, but provide masks for those who do not have one. As part of the celebration, hold a contest for the best mask. Other ideas for masquerade parties include:

  • Decorate tables with elegant candelabras, floral arrangements with peacock feathers and Venetian masks among the blossoms, foil cascade centerpieces, and metallic confetti.
  • Hang masks on the walls and have streamers made of stars fall from the ceiling.
  • Add the air of mystery by a theater group to lead a murder mystery game.
  • After the birthday girl blows out the candles, have a big unveiling where everyone removes their mask.

Luau Party

A beach party is a great way to say, Aloha, to the birthday girls coming of age. Luau parties are casual and laid back, and enhanced with the sounds of island music that transition into dance music later on in the evening. Have plenty of leis for the guests and create a splash with some of these ideas:

  • Cover buffet tables with burlap cloths and dress them in grass skirts.
  • For indoor parties, cover walls with bamboo or use wall decals with beach scenes.
  • Decorate dining tables with floating candles inside wide vases, shells, resin sand castles, and sweet 16 tableware.
  • Have a snow cone-making station.
  • Fill beach pails with party favors, such as copies of CDs with the party music, squirt guns, sunscreen and coconut-shaped cups.

Sweet 16 Planning and Invitation Ideas

Start planning a sweet 16 party at least two months in advance, so you have enough time to book a venue, hire caterers and other vendors, rent tables and find the perfect outfit. Then send out invitations three weeks before the big day to give guests plenty of time to arrange their own schedules. As a nice touch, use invitations that have matching thank-you cards. Ideas for invitations that will get noticed include:

  • Those that look like event tickets to the party of the year. On the ticket, include an image of the birthday girl or a graphic depicting the party theme.
  • An exploding box invitation. The invitation looks like a normal box. When you remove the lid, the four sides of the box drop-down to reveal a small cake in the middle. The inside panels of the box have the details of the celebration.
  • Personalized or write-in invitations with matching thank-you cards from Birthday in a Box.

Sweet 16 Party Decoration Ideas

When decorating the party space, keep the main theme and colors in mind. Birthday in a Box makes decorating simple with tableware, balloons and party gear that match almost any sweet 16 themes. Make the celebration memorable with items like:

  • Balloons: Line a red carpet that leads to the venue's entrance with big balloons on long strings. Highlight the table for gifts or the cake with arching balloon arrangements. Have balloons drop from the ceiling when the birthday girl blows out the candles.
  • Lighting: Use a projector to illuminate the room with dancing lights. Place glowing fairy balls in vases, floral arrangements, and trees. Hang terrarium globes with small LED lights inside of them from the ceiling.
  • Fabulous centerpieces: Fill vases with clear marbles that surround an LED light. Arrange large feathers in a tall vase so they billow out the top. Make topiaries with candies or chocolates that guests can eat. Arrange branches in a vase and hang faux pearls, shiny beads and lights from the branches.

Sweet 16 Party Food

Teens love to eat. Design a menu filled with finger foods and buffet-style cuisine. Crowd pleasers include:

  • Food bars: Pasta, hamburger, nacho or ice cream sundae bars are teen favorites because everyone makes something they like.
  • Beverages: Hire a bartender to make mocktails for the guests.
  • Candy buffet: Allow guests to fill sweet 16-themed party bags with treats like chocolate, licorice sticks, rock candy, pretzels dipped in chocolate and coated with pink sugar, and lollipops

Sweet 16 Party Activities

Teens and other guests are never too old for party activities. Just make sure they're age appropriate for the birthday girl and memorable for the right reasons.

  • Hire a comedian or street magician to entertain the crowd.
  • Set up a photo booth with props and allow guests to take copies of their prints.
  • Let rock stars belt out tunes with karaoke. Pass out inflatable microphones and guitars to encourage even the shyest guests to participate.
  • Play birthday trivia games where guests answer questions about the birthday girl for prizes.

Sweet 16 Party Favors

Help your guests remember the celebration with party favors given in gift boxes, favor bags or personalized jars.

  • Mini gumball machines
  • Sparkling sweet 16-themed lollipops
  • Water bottles or cups
  • Keychains
  • Compact mirrors
  • Nail files
  • Lip balm
  • Custom cookies

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