Preteen and Teen Birthday Ideas
Unisex Party Ideas
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Unisex Teen Birthday Party Ideas
Come as You Are Party
This party requires the birthday child to keep a secret… Her guests are about to be kidnapped!
Call your guests' parents a few weeks before the party to let them in on the plans. Find out where each guest will be located at the appropriate time. (Times will have to be staggered to allow pickup of each guest.) If you're having a sleepover, ask each of your guests’ parents to pack a bag and let you know where you can pick it up.
On the day of the party, pack a few drinks, snacks, and party hats, and drive to each location, picking up your guests one at a time. The fun will build as the group gets larger, but the real fun will begin once you get everyone to the final party destination.
For an inexpensive home party, girls might like having a brunch, dancing, playing in a pool, making cool crafts, or watching a favorite movie. Boys may like playing a game of Flashlight Tag after dark—with bases illuminated by glow-in-the-dark light sticks—or Squirt Gun "Paintball."
To play "squirt gun paintball," have your guests put on white T-shirts (to easily determine hits), and divide them into two teams. Give each player a water gun containing colored water (red for one team and blue for the other). The idea is similar to Capture the Flag, but a warrior must go to the opposing team's designated “prison” camp if he gets hit.
For a special birthday, such as 13 or Sweet 16, try one of these cool end-destination ideas:
- Take your guests to an amusement park for a day of rides.
- Go to a nail salon for a makeover, and top it with a special lunch.
- Spend the night at a hotel, playing in the pool and watching videos. Be sure to let the hotel know you'd like a room away from other "sleeping" guests! (Read the “Girls’ Nite Out” section below for additional ideas.)
- For a really big surprise, rent a limo to pick up your guests and take them on an outing.
Find the Party Road Rally
As with the Come as You Are Party, you'll need to coordinate with your guests’ parents before this party. To get started, set a secret location to have the party, and then map out several courses to the chosen location. On the day of the party, leave a set of clues in appropriate places along each course.
Divide your guests into groups, provide each with a treasure map, and designate drivers to take them on a road rally. The treasure maps will lead each group to their first clue, which will have information about where to find the next clue, and so on until they figure out the secret location of the party. Be sure to tell the drivers the destination just in case any of the clues get botched!
Glow in the Dark Party
Make teen party invitations out of black construction paper and glow-in-the-dark paint, and then mail them to your guests. On the day of the party, decorate with green and purple tablecovers, and plates and cups covered with glow-in-the-dark stickers. Outfit your guests with glow necklaces or glow sticks as they arrive, and then serve them neon-green drinks with glow straws. Play Flashlight Tag and Hot Potato with a glow-in-the-dark ball, make glow bracelets with glow-in-the-dark beads, paint nails with glow paint, draw designs on black paper with milky pens, and/or paint black T-shirts with glow-in-the-dark paint. For older children, consider renting or buying a few black lights, turning on some good music, and having a glow dance party.
Game Night Party
Rather than give your guests “childish” goody bags, let them win teen party prizes in a series of fun games. You can either get everyone together to play one game, such as one of the Scene It? DVD games, and award a larger prize to the winner, or set up several game stations and award a smaller prize to the winner of each game. Here are a few specific game ideas that everyone will enjoy:
- Slap Jack: Divide the group into pairs, and give each pair a deck of cards. Have each pair shuffle their cards, divide them in half, and take turns rapidly flipping over their cards onto a central pile. Every time a player sets down a Jack, both opponents should attempt to be first to slap their hand down on the pile. The first player to touch the pile adds it to the cards in his or her hand. The first person to take possession of the entire deck wins the game. Award a small prize to the winning member of each pair.
- Hoppin’ & Poppin’: This game can be played either with 2-player teams or individually (i.e. “every man for himself”). To begin, inflate small balloons and attach them to the backs of your partygoers’ shoes (one balloon per shoe) using string or tape. The goal of the game is to try and pop your opponent’s balloons without popping your own. Your guests will laugh up a storm as they hop all over the room trying to pop each other’s balloons! The game ends when only one person or one team is left with their balloons intact.
- Blackjack: Pit each guest against a blackjack expert (i.e. an adult). Have the kids take turns playing one-on-one against the expert, and award a prize to each child who beats the expert in a set number of rounds, such as 2 out of 5.
- Egg Pass: Divide the group into two teams, split the teams into two groups, and have the groups line up, single-file, 8’ – 12’ apart and facing each other, and preferably outside. Hand one member of each team a spoon and an uncooked egg. When you say, “Go!” the players holding the spoons must use their spoons to carry their eggs over to their opposing teammates and hand over their spoons—without dropping their eggs. If they complete this successfully, they may sit down until the game is over and watch their teammates finish the relay race. If anyone drops an egg, he or she must go back to the beginning of the line, collect another egg, and try again. The first team to finish the relay and have all players sitting wins.
- Additional Games – For additional ideas, check out the Traditional Games listed in the Birthday in a Box Party Planning section. Preteens and teens alike will love the more active games in this section, such as Capture the flag, Flashlight Tag, and Ghost in the Graveyard.
African Drum Circle Party
Many local music shops offer African or Arabic drum rentals. Sometimes the shops will have contact information for local artists who would be happy to pay a visit to your child’s birthday party and lead your guests in a traditional African drum circle. While it may take up to an hour to get a preteen or teen with no musical experience going, the drum circle can last for hours and is a really fun experience. The only downside is that it can be quite noisy, so make sure to warn your neighbors in advance… or invite them to join in the fun!
Make a list of items for your guests to find, print several copies of the list, and then gather up one of every listed item for each participating team (e.g. 5 whistles for 5 teams). Contact nearby neighbors, and ask them if they're willing to participate. Give one group of items and a task to each participating neighbor, and then explain the rules for awarding a listed item to each team. The requirements to receive a listed item include the following:
- All teammates must be present to earn an item on their list.
- The entire team must perform a silly act (provided by you before the party) as dictated by the neighbor. For instance, they may have to sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," do 15 jumping jacks, eat a cracker and then whistle, etc.
When your guests arrive, divide them into equal teamsof 4 - 6 guests each. Assign an adult to each team to make sure that the kids act appropriately. Provide each team with a copy of the list, tell them which neighbors are participating, and then send them out to scavenger! The first team to return home with every item on the list wins.