It may be hard to believe, but your baby is officially a teenager. You have survived everything up until now and made it to the ultimate test- the teenage years!
It’s an important milestone to celebrate, but gone are the days of unicorn and construction-themed family parties. You want them to have a fun party while still letting them feel every bit as mature as they believe themselves to be.
It goes without saying that being thirteen is hard, as I’m sure we all remember. The party may start off a little awkward, especially if it’s with a mixed or co-ed group. Talk to your 13-year-old about what they had in mind and who they would like to invite.
Here are our favorite ideas that won’t make your teenager die of embarrassment (no guarantees)!
1. Scavenger hunt
You can get really creative with this idea, or you can look online and find about a million awesome ideas and printables that somebody else already came up with. Send them in teams all over the neighborhood looking for their next clue, and make it fun with some prizes and gift cards that they’ll want to win. A scavenger hunt party is perfect for a team, a bigger group of kids, or a co-ed party.
2. Go to the movies
Getting dropped off at the movies by your mom is definitely a rite of passage. Offer to pay for your teen and a few friends to go see a new movie or go to a drive-in. You can also set up a projector in the backyard, or host a movie party in your basement or living room. Sometimes simplicity is the way to go and having a movie on prevents some awkwardness, too.
3. Get a hotel room
Offering to take your 13-year-old and a friend or two on a weekend trip makes them feel mature enough to skip the annual birthday party. You can rent a hotel room by the beach, in the city, and even go on a road trip adventure first. Research the area before you go so you can make reservations and won’t be caught off guard by the prices of activities and meals.
4. Rock climbing
If you’ve got an active adventurer on your hands, rock climbing is the perfect birthday challenge. Most rock climbing gyms host birthday parties where everybody can climb for a couple of hours and then have snacks and cake in the party room. You can also choose to go as a family or have your teen pick a friend or two.
5. Bonfire party
If you (or a family member or friend) have a big backyard, a bonfire is an outdoor activity that can keep any group of kids entertained. You will need to supervise, of course. Get the fire going, set up some chairs, and play music. For the menu, get the ingredients to make s’mores, and throw some food on the grill to keep things simple and quick. You can also have the kids come before it gets dark and set up badminton, cornhole, or volleyball.
6. Tie-dye party
You’re never too old for a tie-dye party. Get a tie-dye kit (which will have everything you need), and let them tie dye shirts, socks, headbands, or even sneakers. As long as you can handle the mess, your guests will have a great time and get to leave with some party favors. If the weather is nice, you can plan to set up outside. Tie dye cakes are easier than you’d think and sure to impress.
7. PJ and spa night
If your daughter has a best friend or tight-knit group of friends, they likely have not grown out of bugging you relentlessly for a sleepover every chance they get. Make it a PJ and spa night, complete with mani/pedis and facials. You can even get the supplies for them to make bath bombs if you’re feeling generous. Buy a bath bomb kit, or make your own with this citric acid-free recipe. End the night with ice cream sundaes and a movie.
8. Laser tag
One thing I love about raising boys is that they generally love to run around and compete at any age. Round up a group of your teen’s close friends and let them loose at a laser tag arena. You can also buy packs of laser tag guns or rent a mobile laser tag truck to bring the party to your backyard. If your teen is over laser tag, they may like a paintball party instead.
9. Food bar
Nothing brings people together like food, teenagers included. Pick a type of food and provide all the toppings they could ever want. Your best bet is choosing your 13-year-old’s favorite food, but some ideas include a donut bar, s’mores bar, tacos, nachos, caramel apples, fondue, ice cream sundaes, grilled cheese station, popcorn bar, mashed or baked potatoes, waffles, pizza, or a burger bar. You have a menu and a theme, all in one.
10. Hollywood party
A Hollywood party is a glamorous and really fun theme idea, but it is definitely best for an outgoing group of kids. Depending on your teenager, this will either be a perfect idea or their worst nightmare. Your teen can choose to go with modern celebrities or old Hollywood, and everybody can dress up if they’re game. Decorate with gold and silver stars, a red carpet, and have a sit-down dinner, followed by some Hollywood games.
11. Bowling party
Bowling is one of those activities that get just about any group laughing and having fun, which makes it perfect for a group of kids that may need a little icebreaker. Rent a couple of lanes and order some pizzas and sodas. It’s easy on you, and your teenager will appreciate a birthday party that’s out of the house. Glow bowling can add some extra fun, and a lot of bowling alleys also have laser tag or an arcade.
12. Karaoke and dance party
Set them up with a karaoke and dance party, and go far, far away. They’ll need snacks, music, a karaoke machine, and you’ll need a pair of earplugs. Snack ideas include chips and dip, mozzarella sticks, pizza bites, sliders, and fries, and of course, cake or cupcakes. Talk about the music ahead of time so you know that it will all be age-appropriate, and you don’t have to argue about it with their friends around.
13. Slip & slide party
If you want to see your teen and their friends running around like kids again, give them some water on a hot day. Set up huge plastic sheets and break out the dish soap. You will want to go with 6 ml plastic sheets so they don’t tear, preferably 10-foot by 100-foot for ultimate fun. Fill up a ton of water balloons and water guns, and even the coolest 13-year-old will be shrieking with laughter. Other options include renting a huge water tunnel, an inflatable water slide, or a giant inflatable twister game.
Some things to consider
In terms of decorations, party favors, and the guest list, you’re going to want to run all of this by your 13-year-old. Chances are, they will have an opinion, and it will be different than yours.
As your child enters the teenage years, it’s more likely that they’ll want to go somewhere for their birthday, whether it’s getting a hotel room or going rock climbing. This can get expensive quickly, so be sure to consider what your budget will be and how many friends they can invite.