18 year old girl eating 18th birthday cake

18TH BIRTHDAY IDEAS: HOW TO THROW AN EPIC PARTY OR CELEBRATION

Get ready to throw an epic celebration for your son or daughter’s 18th birthday—the major milestone that takes them from child to adult! Get inspired by this curation of wonderful ways to mark the occasion, 18th birthday ideas that will let them know just how special they are to you, create lasting memories, and kickstart their adult journey with a bang. Let the countdown to an extraordinary celebration begin!

A classic way to celebrate is by throwing a party, so I’ve included plenty of 18th birthday party ideas and ways to entertain guests at the party.

But not every teen wants a party, so I’ve also included ideas for other creative ways of making your son or daughter feel really special and cherished on the day they reach adulthood. There are ideas to suit every pocket. 

18 year old girl eating 18th birthday cake
Delicious 18th birthday ideas!

EPIC 18TH BIRTHDAY IDEAS THAT WILL MAKE YOU WISH YOU WERE TURNING 18 AGAIN!

Firstly, let’s take a look at some different ways to create the perfect party for your teen’s big celebration. 

BIG PARTY IDEAS AND THEMES

Let’s start off looking at some brilliant ideas and 18th birthday party themes that will really go off with a bang and create memories to last a lifetime. These ideas lend themselves to inviting a big bunch of friends (and family?) to a party. 

1. THROW A DANCE PARTY – HERE’S HOW TO MAKE IT EPIC

Yes, a dance party is a very classic way to celebrate, and yes, you can simply hire a DJ and a venue or open up your house to your teen and their friends. OR you could go for a dance party with a theme that takes it from classic to epic.

Here are some ideas for dance party themes that will have 18-year-olds dancing their hearts out all night long.

1. Stick It On

A Stick It On dance party is a brilliant riff on a more traditional dance party. Invite all the guests to come armed with a playlist of songs so that everyone can take their turn providing the soundtrack for the party. 

You can go with a theme – 90s rave or 00s bangers – perhaps the theme is the year that the birthday boy or girl was born? 

Make sure to have a good sound system set up, or hire a venue that has one already in situ. 

2. Neon Glow Rave

neon kids' party, how to host a neon kids party, how to plan a neon kids' party, glow-in-the-dark party, glow party for kids, glow party for teens
The brightest way to celebrate!!

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Turn up the neon and get ready to rave with a Neon Glow Rave dance party. Create an electrifying atmosphere with neon decorations, blacklights, and glow sticks. Send out an invitation with a neon-coloured clothing dress code. Provide glow-in-the-dark body paint for extra fun.

Get a DJ to play EDM and dance tracks that will keep the dance floor pulsating with energy.

Take a look at my How To Throw An Epic Neon Party Guide to start planning.

3. Retro 80s Flashback

Travel back to the iconic era of British pop music with a Retro 80s Flashback dance party. Decorate with neon colours, cassette tape props, and iconic 80s symbols like Rubik’s cubes and Pac-Man.

Take your guests back to the era of big hair and funky beats with an 80s flashback dance party. Decorate with neon colours, cassette tape props, and iconic 80s symbols.

Encourage guests to dress up in 80s-inspired ‘attire ‘fits’ and dance to a soundtrack of major hits from the decade, including new wave, pop, and disco classics. I’m thinking Madonna, Duran Duran, Wham!, Prince, Whitney Huston…

Of course, you could go for another decade, like the 90s or Noughties.

Related: Gift Ideas 18-year-old boys will be totally into

4. Britpop Throwdown

Loads of teens are loving 90s Britpop at the moment, so how about a Britpop Throwdown dance party. Decorate with Union Jack flags, posters of famous British bands, and music memorabilia.

Play hits from iconic Britpop bands like Oasis, Blur, and Pulp, as well as other British indie and rock tracks. Encourage guests to dress in Britpop-inspired band T-shirts and BritPop Lad and Ladette style.

5. Hip Hop Hype Night

Get your 18-year-old and their friends ready to bust a move to the hottest beats with a hip-hop hype night party.

Decorate with urban-inspired graffiti art, chains, and boombox props. Encourage guests to dress in streetwear and showcase their best dance moves to both retro and current hip-hop hits.

6. K-Pop Dance Showdown

Immerse everyone in the fabulous world of K-pop with a K-pop Dance Showdown party. Decorate with posters of popular K-pop groups, vibrant colours, and Korean-inspired elements.

Play a mix of K-pop hits from popular Korean artists like BTS, Blackpink, and EXO. Hold a K-pop dance-off where guests can showcase their best K-pop choreography and encourage them to dress up as their favourite K-pop idols.

7. Music Video Mayhem

Host a music video-themed party where guests can channel their inner music stars. Create a DIY photo and video booth area with props, costumes, and a green screen.

Encourage guests to create their own music videos to play on the screen in the background.

8. Themed costume dance party

Theme parties are huge at the moment. Here is a list of some of the most popular, on-trend and themes that are currently slaying and would work for a themed costume dance party:

  • Birthday clone: Dress up as the birthday boy or girl – a current representation or inspired by photos from their childhood.
  • Taylor Swift songs: Dress up to represent a Taylor Swift song (the same theme can be used with Harry Styles or A.N.Other hugely famous music star
  • Alphabet: Choose a letter of the alphabet and dress up as something beginning with that letter
  • Initial: Come dressed as something that also begins with the first letter of your name
  • Anything but clothes: Wear anything but clothes (obviously with strict modesty rules in place!!)
  • Most annoying celebrity: Dress up as the celebrity who annoys you most, so think Kourtney K or whichever music star winds you up the most

2. MASQUERADE BALL

A masquerade ball is a lovely idea if you want to elevate the party to a more sophisticated level. Send out actual formal invitations inviting guests to dress up in elegant masked outfits. 

Hire somewhere suitably glamorous to host the party, or go luxe with the decorations to create a sumptuous ambience; think chandeliers, draped fabrics and fierce candelabras. 

Take it one step further by hiring a chamber orchestra to play for the first hour (before amping up the dance music for the rest of the evening). 

3. MINI MUSIC FESTIVAL 

How about setting up a mini music festival either for the day or for a weekend in honour of the birthday boy or girl?

This is a great idea for teens who are really into their music, particularly if they are in a band themselves or have friends who are music artists. 

Name the festival after the birthday girl or boy or incorporate their name or something they love into the festival name.

Set up a stage in your garden (probably best to warn the neighbours!!) and intersperse live sets with playlists, or enlist a willing DJ or two. 

4. THEMED COSTUME PARTY

Who doesn’t love a themed costume party?! There is so much scope to create a really memorable event if you manage to get everyone dressed up in amazing costumes. 

I’ve got a huge list of costume party themes to help inspire you. I also like the idea of getting everyone to dress up in a way that commemorates the year of the party boy or girl’s birth. 

Really go for it with themed decor and themed food to get the party started. And don’t forget to set up a photo booth or selfie area to capture the crazy outfits for posterity!

Related: 43 Birthday themes for teens that absolutely slay

SMALLER PARTY IDEAS

Now let’s look at some equally wonderful party ideas that work for smaller, more intimate gatherings where you invite the birthday girl or boy’s closest friends and celebrate their birthday in style. 

1. CASINO ROYALE

Now hosting a casino night is an idea you could do at home or at a venue. The one thing I wouldn’t do is hold it at an actual casino (especially if the local legal age for gambling is 21!); I’m not sure that encouraging your kids to gamble for actual money the second they turn 18 is the best parenting!!

That said, setting up a casino lends itself to throwing a really glamorous party with lots of fun and games to entertain the guests.

Set up blackjack and poker tables, provide pretend money or casino chips, and you could even hire professional dealers to give your guests an authentic casino experience.

M.Y Texas Hold'em Poker Set
£34.99 £32.99

A 300 piece set of poker chips, 2 x playing card decks, big blind and small blind buttons and 5 x dice in an alluminium case.

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03/04/2024 06:21 pm GMT

2. COCKTAIL PARTY

A cocktail party is a lovely way to make all the guests feel ever so grown up. It’s also a great way to keep things real on the alcohol front by ensuring the cocktails are light on alcohol but big on taste and style. 

If you really want to push the boat out, you could hire a mixologist to create a signature cocktail and bring a team along to serve cocktails and canapés.  

Alternatively, come up with the signature cocktail yourself, put together a selection of canapés and finger food and rope in siblings or friends’ kids to help serve. 

Choose a cocktail recipe that goes light on alcohol but high on wow factor, like a raspberry lemonade spritz.

And don’t forget to choose an equally appealing mocktail as the number of teetotal Gen Zers continues to grow.

Raspberry Lemonade Spritz Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1½ oz raspberry vodka
  • 2 oz lemonade
  • Splash of soda water
  • Fresh raspberries for garnish
  • Mint leaves for garnish.

Instructions: Fill a glass with ice. Pour in raspberry vodka and lemonade. Top it off with a splash of soda water. Stir gently to combine. Garnish with fresh raspberries and a lemon twist for a delightful and bubbly spritz.

Of course, you or your teen may prefer to serve alcohol-free mocktails rather than cocktails. So, here’s my roundup of some of the most aesthetically pleasing, delicious mocktails for teens.

3. FORMAL DINNER PARTY

Organising your son or daughter’s first formal dinner party is a very sophisticated way to celebrate their 18th. 

If you are a confident cook, you can plan and prepare the menu yourself, or alternatively, you could hire a private chef. 

Send formal invites requesting formal attire to make sure everyone is suitably dressed and ready to dine on delicious food. 

Set a beautifully decorated table, light delicately scented candles and have a suitably highbrow playlist ready. 

Alternatively, you could hire a private room or area at a favourite restaurant or fine dining restaurant (ok, they could be one and the same!). 

Related: Brilliant birthday party games for 18th birthday parties

4. MYSTIC MARVEL PARTY

There is an enduring fascination for psychics and tarot card readings at the moment. So how about hiring a professional to host a mystic party? Just make sure they focus on the positive!

Create a mystic party vibe by decorating with crystals, strings of twinkly fairy lights and burning incense. Psychic Sisters have some wonderful mystic items that would work beautifully; the crystal sets would make fabulous party favours.

Psychic Sisters Love Crystal Set

There are seven crystals in each set. Each crystal is individually chosen and then reiki-cleansed and energised.

Buy from Amazon Buy from Psychic Sisters

5. CLASSIC BIRTHDAY PARTY WITH PARTY GAMES

This is a chance for everyone to get all nostalgic and reminisce about birthday parties from childhood but with an updated twist for the fact that everyone is now turning 18!

I’m thinking that you put together a beautiful tea party – use my guide to hosting a tea party – and then set up some party games. I’ve got a super popular post with a list of more grown-up birthday party games for teens.

EXPERIENTIAL BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS 

Not everyone wants to celebrate their 18th milestone birthday with a party. Some teens might be far more excited about the opportunity to do something experiential to mark the occasion. So here is a list of fun ideas that are bound to excite the birthday boy or girl. 

1. SKYDIVING

Gather a few friends and family together to watch the birthday girl or boy take their first tandem jump with a certified instructor. 

This is one surefire way to ensure birthday memories that will last a lifetime!

2. HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE

Hot air balloons can take as many as 30 people, but I’m thinking a more intimate group of close family or best friends would work well for a very serene and calm way to welcome adulthood. 

3. SUPERCAR DRIVING EXPERIENCE

If your teen has already passed their driving test, you could challenge them up their driving game with a supercar driving experience. Virgin Experiences has a very fabulous looking 12 Lap McLaren driving experience that I am sure would go down well.

4. ROAD TRIP

If your teen’s 18th birthday coincides with a school break, you could incorporate the celebrations into a family holiday. I know of a couple of people who went on family road trips in the States to celebrate their 18th. 

I’ve done a few road trips in the US. My favourite to date has involved taking the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to Los Angeles and then meandering back via Yosemite. 

5. HELICOPTER (PARENTING)

Take helicopter parenting to a new extreme (!!) by booking a helicopter flight by way of celebration. There are some brilliant tours to be had over cities or more scenic locations. ADD IN DETAILS  

6. SPA DAY OR WEEKEND

So many spas are adult-only, so what a way to introduce your teen to one of the wonderful delights of adulthood by booking them a spa day? Lavish them with treatments and choose a spa with a wonderful pool to lounge by.  

Related: How to plan the best spa party at home for your teen

7. WILDLIFE SAFARI

Now, this is a biggie, but I’m throwing it in there because, for many of us, a wildlife safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

It will take some advanced planning, but a wildlife safari is an amazing way to welcome in the first of the adult years. Make sure to choose a safari that has a firm focus on animal conservation. 

If you are in the UK and a trip to Africa for a safari is way beyond the realms of possibility, I can highly recommend an overnight stay at Port Lymphe Safari Park in Kent. We stayed overnight in a Shepherd Hut and had use of our own golf cart to zip around the park, which was particularly fun after the park closed for day visitors. You can also book such luxuries as an overnight stay in the tiger compound.

Beautiful Rosie the Rhino at Port Lymphe

8. OUTDOOR ADVENTURE RETREAT

Plan an outdoor adventure retreat, such as a multi-day hiking or camping trip. Disconnect from technology, embrace nature’s beauty, and challenge yourself with thrilling activities like rock climbing, rafting, or zip-lining.

9. VIP AMUSEMENT PARK TRIP

If adreneline-soaked trips to amusement parks float the boat of your teen, how about booking a once-in-a-lifetime VIP package? Think unlimited front-of-line access to rides, your own VIP host, sumptuous overnight accommodation… Alton Towers has a number of different special packages.

10. GO TO A MAJOR MUSIC ARTIST’S CONCERT

Harry Styles 16 June 2023 Wembley Stadium London
One of the photos I took at Harry Styles’ Love On Tour 2023

Going to a stadium or arena to see a major music star is an expensive outing in itself, so if you plan carefully, you could organise surprise tickets to see your son or daughter’s favourite music artist. You may well need to accept you must buy the tickets for your teen and their friends rather than going along with them. 

Though you could really push the boat out and organise a VIP package, watching the concert from VIP seating like a box or with VIP access could turn an already amazing experience into a once-in-a-lifetime, always-to-be-remembered epic way to celebrate. Check Ticketmaster for upcoming concerts and shows.

18TH BIRTHDAY DECORATIONS

Whether you’re planning to throw a party or simply want to jazz up your home on the morning of your teen’s 18th birthday, here is a roundup of some of the loveliest 18th birthday decorations. 

  1. Ginger Ray Balloon Frame
    £34.99 (at publication date)

    How about a giant number 18 frame filled with balloons?!

    Each number measures 81cm (H), 58cm (W) 14cm (D). The pack comes with strong adhesive foam pads in two sizes and foam support holders, and a mixture of  40" x 5"rainbow balloons.

    Buy from Ginger Ray Buy from Amazon
  2. 18th Birthday Balloon Kit
    £9.66

    This balloon kit contains 32" one number 18 foil balloon, 1 x Happy Birthday banner, 10 x rose gold confetti balloons, 10 x rose gold metallic balloons, 10 x rose gold latex balloons, 20 x white balloons and a balloon arch kit comprising, glue dot, balloon chain and ribbon.

    Buy from Amazon
    03/04/2024 01:30 pm GMT
  3. Personalised Photo Face Bunting
    £20.99

    If ever there was an occasion that called for personalised face bunting, it's an 18th birthday! Go for a flattering recent photo, or raid the childhood photos for one that will make them squirm.

    You can choose A4 or A5 size bunting faces and go for 12, 24 or 36 on the bunting.

    Click the Customise button to upload the photo.

    Buy from Amazon
    03/04/2024 01:45 pm GMT
  4. Happy 18th Birthday Cake Topper
    £5.99 (£2.00 / count)

    This large cake topper comes in silver, rose gold or gold. It will make even the simplest of cakes look utterly fabulous.

    Buy from Amazon
    03/04/2024 02:41 pm GMT
  5. 18th Birthday Photobooth Kit
    £45 (at publication date)

    This brilliant photobooth kit contains a Welcome to the Pary sign and Photobooth frame that can both be personalised.

    Buy from notonthehighstreet.com
  6. Paper Honeycomb Birthday Balloons | By Talking Tables
    £7.00 £5.95

    This set of three paper honeycomb balloons, in suitably regal colours, is a great eco-friendly alternative to regular balloons. Yes, you can buy biodegradable balloons, which are also fabulous, but these are particularly wonderful because you can use them again and again.

    They are really easy to assemble, just unfold and connect them with the clip attached to the balloon and use the coloured string to hang them.


    Buy from Amazon Buy from Talking Tables
    03/04/2024 03:31 pm GMT
  7. Custom Number Neon Sign LED
    Prices start from £97.50 (at publication date)

    You can choose a number or a name/word to be fashioned into a neon LED sign. You can also choose the size of the sign.

    This is an expensive decoration, so I'm thinking it's something that could double as a gift to go on a bedroom wall afterwards.

    NB: The LED sign does not come with balloons or on a stand.

    Buy from Etsy

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