By the time your child is a teenager, the cute themes are over. (So, take advantage and enjoy it while they are little!) If you have used your own child’s interests to give shape to parties every year, that will make it even easier to do the same for teens.
According to my teenage daughter, birthday party themes should not come from outside—that is, YOU as the parent—but from the birthday child. You could start with a structure in mind, though, and ask your child how to fill in the details.
For a birthday party that engages teens, start with your child’s passion.
What do you love doing so much that you want to share with your friends?
Most children have spent time developing a skill in sports, in the arts, or in some other area of interest. Rather than just sharing that interest, how about helping a few of your child’s friends gain some skill.
For a teenager’s birthday party, hold a workshop, an intense day or half day when your child can share what they love to do with the people they most like to spend time with. Invite an expert to teach a class for the kids. This does add a big expense to the party budget, but you don’t need a lot of decorations or a gift bag for teens if the experience itself is the gift.
Teen Birthday Workshop Ideas
Keeping in mind that only your child knows the best theme for a birthday party workshop, these are a few of the ideas my children and I have come up with.
My daughter is an aerial dancer. She climbs silks and spins on the trapeze. She has taken several friends to classes with her, and she has made friends with other young dancers, but she wants more of her friends to have the experience of flying through the air on silk. One of the ideas she is considering for her upcoming birthday is an aerial dance workshop taught by once of her teachers, a professional who has danced with Cirque du Soleil and other circuses.
Martial Arts Workshop
My son is a kung fu junior instructor. Like my daughter, he has occasionally encouraged friends to join him for a class or an event, but he would like to share with them what has kept him coming back year after year. One of his kung fu teachers is also a pro skateboarder who has infected my son and many others with parkour, or freerunning. I think my son wants all of his friends to learn how to jump over huge obstacles so they can spend their days running and jumping.
My nephew has been in bands since he was 10 years old. He went through School of Rock and many garage bands as well as a local program that teaches teens technical support skills beyond the microphone. One of our neighbors has a small recording studio in his basement. These two ideas come together in my mind as a day for friends to learn some music and recording basics and create a song of their own. It may not be a masterpiece (or maybe it will be), but isn’t a recording of oneself better than any goodie bag?
Like it or not, your children will have to learn to feed themselves soon. They will go with the cheapest, easiest choices unless they have clear reasons to give serious thought to food. My niece is now in culinary school. She has been the designated cook among her friends since she was a young teen. I put this together with the idea of teen cooking demonstrations that Jamie Oliver gave during his television program Food Revolution. How about a child who loves to cook teaching her friends about low-impact, healthy food choices.
Start a brainstorm with your teen about what he or she loves and wants to share. Ask who you know that could help and what resources you can find in your town. Ask your child to take the lead in deciding how best to celebrate his or her birthday.
Happy Family Holiday
In my family, all birthdays are family holidays. We give our focus to the birthday person and do our best to make dreams come true for a day. As parents, our role changes as our children grow older and take on more responsibility. Like most aspects of attachment parenting, our job is to be the support and guidance when they need it—and to step back to admire their independence when they don’t. A birthday party for a child or any age should follow their lead.
More birthday party ideas