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Teens can be tough to please, especially if you happen to be a parent trying to plan a birthday party activity for one. In my experience, teenagers don’t always say what they mean, and they don’t always mean what they say!
The best advice I can give is to really take note of what your teen is into and what they are comfortable with doing. I admit this can be easier said than done at a time when teens are busy striking out for independence by reducing how much they communicate with you and are partial to spending hours in their room with the door shut.
If you can find a way to casually bring up the subject rather than bombard them with questions, you will hopefully end up with some idea of how they would like to celebrate. I always find a dog walk helps bring about a good catch-up chat without any pressure.
And if you go into the chat with a list of ideas in your head, you can give them some ‘for instances’ and help guide them into agreeing on the best activity for celebrating their birthday.
To try and make life a little easier for you, especially if this is your first time planning a party for a teen, I’ve put together a list of birthday party activities for teens.
Not every teen is going to love every idea, but there will be at least a couple of ideas on this list that most teens will love the sound of.
7 SIMPLE BUT BRILLIANT BIRTHDAY PARTY ACTIVITIES FOR TEENS
Browse this list and find the perfect activity for your teen’s next birthday party. There are ideas for girls, boys and stuff that everyone will love.
1. BOARD GAMES – YES, REALLY!
Now I know this may not sound like the most exciting of ideas, but trust me, it can actually work really well for smaller parties.
Having a board game or two to play gives the party a focus, which is useful in a couple of ways.
Firstly, it helps break the ice and get the kids chatting if the guests don’t know each other well.
Secondly, it’s a great way to get teens to stop looking at their phones and put their focus on playing a game. It can be easy for teens to slide into sitting next to each other messaging more than chatting.
Oh, and it’s a great way to bring about some light-hearted competition.
Pick a couple of board games from my roundup of the best board games for teens, and choose a theme to bring the party to life – how about Stranger Things or even Las Vegas casino style?
Don’t forget to make an on-trend snack board for them to graze on as they play. Here’s a roundup of some fabulous snack board ideas.
2. PARTY GAMES
Just because teens are no longer little kids, it doesn’t mean that they won’t (secretly) love playing classic party games.
In fact, there is a certain point when teens become a little nostalgic for their childhoods and enjoy revisiting some of the fun they had.
You could even team the party games activities with a retro-style afternoon tea. Take a look at my guide to creating a beautiful afternoon tea birthday party for teens.
I’ve also put together a roundup of delicious afternoon tea party menu ideas that will come in useful.
3. MOVIE NIGHT
Do you have a teen who just wants to do something low-key for their birthday? How about a movie night, then?
The key to a successful movie night is to make sure you agree on the movie or movies beforehand. Either go for something new that everyone is excited to watch or find a movie classic that your teen and their guest will love.
Here are some movie genres to help you get started:
- 80s classic movies
- 90s classic movies
- 00s classic movies
- Scary movies
- Go for a movie marathon with films from the same movie franchise
Load up a snack board with sweet and savoury treats, or get some cinema-style popcorn and snack trays to create a movie-theatre vibe.
Karaoke is a brilliant party activity for fun-loving teens who love nothing more than singing their hearts out!
There are plenty of karaoke venues where you can hire a room for a party, but for a low-cost party, you can set up karaoke at home.
The easiest way to set up karaoke at home is with the Lucky Voice Karaoke Kit.
Do make sure to do a trial run before the party, an essential step for anything that involves relying on tech whilst a bunch of teens look on!!
5. MINI MUSIC FESTIVAL
This is essentially a music and dance party dressed up as something a bit cooler.
Hosting a mini-musical festival is a great summer birthday party idea. Don’t worry; you don’t need access to a field; you just need to have some outdoor space.
Hosting a mini music festival is a bit of an undertaking, but the emphasis is on MINI here. Take inspiration from Coachella or Glastonbury and scale down as appropriate!
Put together music playlists on Spotify or Amazon Music, ask your teen or their friends to DJ, or perhaps they are in a band or have friends in a band who could do a set.
Whip up some festival-style food:
- Burgers in brioche buns
- Hot dogs
- French fries
- Noodle and stir-fry dishes
- Poke bowls
- Corn on the cob
- Waffles and ice-cream
- Hot doughnuts
6. ESCAPE ROOM
Escape rooms are becoming more and more popular, and they are a great activity for a teen party. They are great for getting everyone to work together as a team.
You don’t need to go to an escape room – which can often be tricky based on numbers and the need for an adult to be present – you can create an escape room experience at home.
Escape Kit has four escape room games specifically for teens.
Sleepovers really come into their own when kids get to their teens. My thirteen-year-old had a sleepover as part of her birthday celebrations and has been to several birthday sleepovers for her friends’ birthdays.
A sleepover party can be as fancy or as low-key as you like. I’ve put together a complete guide to hosting a sleepover party for teens that will take you through all the things you can do to create a brilliant sleepover that your teen and her pals will be talking about for weeks to come.
I’ve also put together a guide to sleepover snacks that will have teen eyes as big as windows.
I hope these simple ideas have given you some inspiration to share with your teen.
I’ve also put together a big list of 43 birthday themes for teens with a whole host of ideas for parties and celebrations of all sizes and to suit all pockets.
Luci is the founder of Mums Make Lists (Est. 2011). Over the last decade or so, she has used her experience as a mum to create useful guides to organising family life. During that time, she has found the most joy in creating lists of ideas and inspiration to make it easier for busy parents to plan and host kids’ parties and find great gifts. Read more.