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Six Great Party Themes for Tweens and Teens

As my teenage daughter’s birthday was approaching, I asked her if she wanted to have a party with some friends. “I guess,” she answered in her typical non-committal way. While she thought she could have a great party by just inviting friends, ordering pizza, and plugging her phone into a speaker to play her favorite tunes, I knew she and her friends would spend much of the party concentrating on their phones instead of each other.

So I offered her a few teen party ideas that I hoped would serve as the ‘warm-up band’ and get her friends moving, laughing, and making memories at the killer party my daughter envisioned.

Here are the six ideas that me and my daughter came up with:

1. Night at the Club. Turn your basement into a Night Club or Sports Bar (minus the alcohol, of course). T(w)eens love to Karaoke via your Wii, Playstation, or Xbox and dance games like Just Dance gets the party going fast. Consider asking the guests to wear neon or white and set the room in black light. Games like Darts, Pool, Foosball, or Air Hockey are usually found in the basement of a family with t(w)eens. You can also bring in Cornhole boards and bean bags for a friendly, competitive game. Instead of pizza, try serving nachos, cheese sticks, and chicken wings.

2. An 80s Party. My kids know all the ‘80s songs from Bon Jovi to ZZ Top because they grew up listening to these tunes. At an ‘80s-themed party, guests can dress up as their parents did ‘back in the day.’ Offer a variety of ‘80s games for the kids to play including Simon, Uno, Rubik’s Cube, and Atari Flashback (available on Amazon). Keep the party going with Who Wants to be an 80s Star?, which is a spinoff of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Create ‘80s trivia questions with a lifeline to the party guests’ parents or poll the ‘audience.’ Serve popular ‘80s foods like pizza pockets (cooked in the oven), sloppy joes, Jell-o Pudding Pops, and Fruit Roll-Ups.

3. Murder Mystery. Not only is a Murder Mystery Party a theme within a theme, it is also a fun way for everyone at the party to release their inner actor. Some themes include the Wild West, a night at the theatre, glamorous millionaires, medieval times, prom, or even the holidays. You can find downloadable games online, which include character descriptions, a storyline, and directions. Inform your guests ahead of time so they can dress for their role or offer costumes to them when they arrive at your party. The birthday meal should relate to and complement your murder mystery setting.

4. Amazing Race. An Amazing Race party requires the guests to break up into teams, read, and decipher clues and perform challenges in the shortest amount of time. This game can easily be set up in your neighborhood. Set challenges at a park, in your backyard, or at a local business. Game printables can be found on Etsy. Incorporate food into your challenges so everyone is fed, but offer appetizers and desserts before and after the race. Also, keep bottles of water and/or Gatorade handy. It’s important everyone stays hydrated during physical challenges. Challenging food games may include making a Froot Loop necklace with a certain pattern of colors and then eating the necklace before moving on to the next challenge.

5. Minute to Win It. This is a fun party for all ages as well as simple setup for the party-planning challenged. Guests are given one minute to do a variety of simple challenges, like picking up four pieces of dry penne pasta with a dry spaghetti noodle. Players can be individual or broken into teams of two or more. Have everyone do the same challenges and keep record of everyone’s times. For game ideas, check out the Minute to Win It website,, and then head to a bargain store for supplies. Food ideas include quick and easy make-it-yourself bars like tacos, pasta, hot dogs, or baked potatoes.

6. Social Media Party. Okay, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. This is as close as it comes to just hanging out. Set up a photo booth with props for fun party posts. You can also play ‘Find a Post’ where players receive points for having posted a particular item on social media: team logo, pet, a picture of a coffee cup, laptop, etc. Serve food that only requires one hand to eat so the teens can continue to eat and IG. Serve foods you can stick with a toothpick like cheese cubes, cocktail meatballs, and cut-up fruits and veggies.

Pam is a freelance writer, and a mother of three teenagers. She is the author of a party game series on Amazon and creator of Pam’s Party Printables on Etsy, pamspartyprintables. 

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