This list of 16 “Sweet Sixteen” Birthday Party Ideas has fun, unique, budget-savvy ways to celebrate any girl’s milestone birthday.
Update: This post was written in 2014 and reflected my older daughters’ tastes and the trends of the time. For an updated post on how my youngest and her friends did Sweet 16, I’ve written a new post, Sweet 16 Birthday Party Ideas (and Gift Guide) for 2018. It is much more on trend with girls today:-)
Years ago (as in 2014) when my twin daughters were about to turn 16, I asked my sweet friend Kalee Baker for some party theme ideas. She was full of great ideas~all of which are below.
Note: Today, in the years since this post was written, Kalee has become one of the most sought after wedding planners in the south. If your former Sweet 16 is soon to be a bride, I highly recommend Kalee (and please tell her I sent you:-). For more visit Kalee Baker Events.
So check out the 16 ideas below. Please let me know if you find the perfect idea for your sweet 16 event.
As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!
16 “Sweet Sixteen” Birthday Party Ideas
- Host a “Flick on the Field” in the back yard!! Invite your friends for a movie on the lawn where you serve popcorn in paper bags, boxes of movie theater candy, and ice cold cokes. Tickets to the show could be sent in the birthday invitations. Seating could be quilts, throw pillows or beach chairs! Hang these festive clear globe string lights near seating and gathering areas. For a movie snack, serve this coconut sugared popcorn.
- Celebrate your Sweet 16 with an elegant “High Tea.” Serve traditional tea party fare at a table garnished with flowers, lace, silver and china. A sweet addition would be to invite a grandmother or established lady in the church to speak to your guests about etiquette, manners, and the characteristics of being a lady!
- Throw a “Masquerade Ball” for the Sweet 16 and her friends. Rent a local ballroom and band, and enjoy the evening guessing the faces behind each of the masks. Also consider serving a New Orleans tradition of King Cake to really wow your guests! If King Cake isn’t available, this Funfetti Bundt cake would make a perfect substitution. You could even stick a tiny plastic baby were inside the cake to make it more fun!
- Throw a “Murder Mystery Dinner Party.” Each guest receives his/her character and the plot with the invitation and arrives ready to solve the mystery! Clues are added throughout the evening, and by the end of three courses, hopefully no one else disappears.
- Girls Just Want to Have Fun at this traditional Sweet 16 Slumber Party. Play bunko, classic twister, or classic Monopoly until the sun comes up! Add some spa fund with face masks and nail polish!!
- Start collecting olive branches for a Sweet 16 Toga Party. Cater Greek food, hire someone to teach traditional Greek dances, and have chairs nearby to lift the birthday girl up in the air!! If you have the resources, you could really set a Grecian backdrop if you rent columns and drape them (and the walls) with greenery.
- How about a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” themed party and photo shoot!? Request that guests wear “Tiffany blue” and black, and hire a photographer to capture the glamor of the day! End the day with a showing of Audrey Hepburn’s classic movie, and hand each guest her own faux Rhode Island pearl necklace party favor!
- Grab your boots and hat and come on down for a “Barn Party“!!Hire a professional line dance expert and dance the night away to some good ole country music! Serve barbecue with traditional beans & coleslaw. This skillet blackberry cobbler would make the perfect yummy and rustic dessert. Use bandanas as napkins, place mats, party favors and more. Use hay bales as benches for those who need a load off their feet!!
- Have a “Fun Fiesta” where guests wear their favorite South of the Border flowly dresses. Serve tacos with all the fixings while salsa music plays in the background. The sweet ending to the meal could be candy spillinng from this Sweet 16 piñata.
- Host a night in paradise at your Sweet 16 Luau!! Decorate the backyard with tiki torches, skirt your food tables with grass skirts, serve fruit skewers, roast a pig, and party the night away! Give each guest a lei upon arrival, and if you’ve got a rowdy bunch, consider adding a slip & slide for fun.
- Get creative as you host a “Letter Party.” Choose a letter of the alphabet; ask your guests to dress in that letter. The costumes can get wild!! Decorate the party following a letter theme as well! Example: B could be Balloons, Bubbles, Boy Scout, Ballerina, Barbie, Boxing, Batman–these parties really get the creative juices flowing!!
- Host a very unique and super fun “Rubik’s Cube” party. Everyone is asked to arrive in different articles of clothing each representing every color on the Rubik’s cube!! Hire a band, hang a disco ball, and let the party begin!!
- If It Isn’t NEON, It Shouldn’t BE ON” !! Neon is BACK, and glow-in-the-dark makes for loads of fun. Give these glowstick bracelets to guests when they arrive so that the guests are part of the decor! The bracelets also serve as fun party favors. An added twist to this theme would be to take your party to an intense game of laser tag and then return to home base for food and fellowship!
- Grab your bell bottoms and teasing comb for this awesome 80’s Disco Party. Turn on the rotating disco globe light and play the top 80’s dance tunes to rock the night away! Give prizes for best dressed and best dancer, and pass out huge hair combs for guests to tuck into their back pockets. Tacky fun at its best!
- Get the culinary juices flowing with a Sweet 16 Cooking Class.” Take a group to learn how to make sushi, decorate a cake, make homemade pizzas or anything fun and suited for a small group.
- Host a Roaring 20’s Casino Night! Bring out flapper dresses and long strands of pearls. Rent a slot machine, a craps and blackjack table, maybe even a roulette wheel! Then print some paper money, and enjoy a perfectly harmless risk free night at the casino.
After spending lots of time in party supplies stores and large retailers, I ended up finding some of the savviest deals online. Here are three that I consider especially noteworthy.
- Cupcakes can make a great, lovely, and easy alternative to birthday cake (no cake cutting or forks required). For serving cupcakes at a large event, this 5-tier square dessert station is the best investment I’ve seen as far as serving pieces. This could be used at weddings, graduations, or any other special event.
- After searching high and low for bandanas, I found one of the easiest and least expensive options at bandanas by the dozen on amazon. The bandanas are $1.00 apiece, come in assorted colors, and ship free.
- For masquerade parties, these feathered Mardi Gras masks are made of plastic (not paper), good quality, and are $12.98 per dozen.
Sweet 16 Birthday Gift Ideas
- Money. This is hands down a foolproof home run in the gift department.
- Gas card. Most 16-year-olds will driving, so a gas card is a nice perk for the wallet.
- AmazonBasics Car Charger for iPhone, iPad and iPod. This apple certified accessory keeps a teen’s device charged and gives a measure of safety as well.
- Capri Blue Volcano Printed Tin Candle. This is the signature candle in Anthropologie, and it has a cult following. Any teen girl would love this!
- Collegiate apparel or game day gear. Tees, sweatshirts, or other goods with the teen’s favorite college logo are great.
- Fine writing paper or notes. Thank you notes will be part of the teen’s future, and having nice stationary will be a plus.
- Favorite drive through gift card (we give Chick-Fil-A). New drivers love being able to drive through and get breakfast or lunch. Having it paid for is extra special:-)
Addendum: For a peek inside my daughters’ party, you can read my blog post, Sweet 16 Birthday Party–“Western Hoedown.”