Birthday party ideas for tweens have to walk that line between being sophisticated enough, not too childish, and yet good old-fashioned fun for everyone involved. That's a pretty tall order, so you might be in need of a few suggestions to get you started on your party planning. The following 9 suggestions are simple enough to be done on a tight budget, but should be tempting to even the pickiest pre-teen:
1. Scavenger Hunt
Take the scavenger hunt out of the house and out on the town, if you wish. You can set it up in a local park or the mall; just have enough adult supervision to keep things safe. Team the kids up and offer prizes for most items found, craziest item found, etc.
2. The Decade Theme Party
If your tween loves to dress in costume or dance, then this party is an ideal choice. Select a decade: the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s and have the guests come in costume from that era. Play the pop music of that era and do the dances; offer prizes for best costumes and best dancers.
3. Camping Out
Set up tents in your backyard or local campground, have a campfire and toast marshmallows. Tell scary stories by flashlight. This party is especially appealing to tween boys and is so easy to pull off.
4. American Idol Party
If your tween is a budding performer, break out the karaoke machine and have an American Idol party. You can even have a panel of judges to score the performances (just be nicer than Simon!).
5. Pool Party
If you have a pool or can rent the local community pool, a pool party is just about as easy as it gets. Have plenty of adults handy if no lifeguards are on duty. Provide the sunscreen, some pool toys, and enjoy your fun in the sun!
6. Tiki Party
This one is so much fun! Provide your guests with leis, hang patio lights, and drape the tables in grass mats. Play Polynesian music and have a limbo and a hula contest. The tiki "bar" can serve festive fruit punch.
7. Skating Party
Ice or roller, doesn't matter as long as everyone has fun. Most local rinks offer some kind of party package that is affordable to even the tightest budgets. All you have to do is bring a cake and some candles!
8. Beach Party
If you live close to a beach, take advantage of your natural resources and throw a beach party. Even in the fall or early spring, if it's still too cold to swim, you can build a bonfire and have sandcastle building contests.
9. Spa Day
If your tween is a bit of a diva, plan a spa day for her and a few select friends. There are tons of inexpensive products available at dollar stores; guests can give each other manicures and pedicures and facials. Serve spa salads for lunch and fancy petit fours for dessert.
The key to planning a successful tween party is to keep things simple. Incorporate your pre-teen's favorite activities: singing, dancing, or just hanging out with friends into the party's theme, and you can't go wrong!______________________________
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.