How to throw the perfect 16th birthday party

Depending on your budget, there are loads of great ideas out there for celebrating a 16th birthday. We’ve heard great reports of escape rooms, spa sessions, meals out with no adults allowed, indoor skydiving, shopping centre scavenger hunts and more. But in 2020 you’re likely to be planning a party at home and a smallish one at that. So as part of our teenage birthday series, we’ve put some ideas together to help you plan a party that will be the best night ever.

Let’s start with our top tips on what to avoid, based on years of bitter experience! You’ll find more on this in an earlier blog post on Teenage parties and how not to plan them.

Top teen party survival tips:

  • Persuade (or pay!) some 19-22 year olds to help – they can discreetly manage the party without being an uncool adult presence
  • Put away anything precious in advance
  • Try and keep the action outdoors as much as possible if you can – create a safe area with minimal damage potential
  • Make provision for pets (especially if you’re serving party food that might be toxic to them)
  • Make sure you have an absolutely clear agreement in advance on when the music is going to be turned down and then off altogether

Now for the fun stuff! How to make it the party of dreams

Decorations might not be cool but fairy lights are loved by all ages, transform any space and can be used time and again. If you like to shop from independent businesses (and of course you do!) you might want to have a look at:


We bought some disco lights at the beginning of our teen party era and it was definitely one of our better decisions.

Disco party lights

Drinks are usually the subject of heated debate; “But *insert name of friend*’s parents served alcohol all night.” This one is totally down to you and everyone will have a different and perfectly valid viewpoint. Whether you want to serve alcohol or not, a great way of making the party feel grown-up and special is to create a ‘bar’. If you’ve managed to rope in some 19-22 year olds to help, ask one or two of them to dress up, practise their cocktail shaking and be bartender for the night. You have the option of providing mocktails all night, one alcoholic drink as a welcome drink or (very weak!) cocktails all night – if you go for the last option, in theory at least it will give you a degree of control over what’s being drunk.

We have a lot of favourite cocktail recipes but margaritas are particularly good fun, with the salt around the rim of the glass (plastic, of course!). Here’s a great non-alcoholic recipe:

For 8 servings
      • 500ml fresh orange juice
      • 150ml fresh lime juice
      • 350g sugar
      • ice cubes
      • 2 limes
      • salt as needed

1. Add the fresh orange juice, lime juice, and sugar into a blender.

2. Add ice and blend until slushy on the crushed ice setting.

3. Add salt to a flat dish. Rub a cut lime or lemon around the rim of each glass. Place the rim of each glass into the salt and swirl it to cover the rim.

4. Stand the glass up again and pour in the margaritas.

If you want the real deal, add a touch of tequila and Cointreau before blending. Add strawberries or other fruits for delicious options.


Food and teenage parties can be a dangerous mix, but it’s definitely a good idea to have plenty to eat on hand (even if you don’t serve alcohol, there are always ‘pre’s taking place somewhere else). Forget anything messy – no dips, fruit or anything that can be smeared or squished. Instead go for filling and inexpensive carbs – bread, crisps, pizza (always a winner and likely to get eaten quickly). Sweet options, such as donuts and brownies, are great too.

Music is easy to get exactly right. Make sure the party host has created the perfect playlist – I’m sure they’ll be on it long before you check! Our teens asked their friends to contribute playlists created just for their parties, which worked brilliantly. And prepare for a LOT of singing ????


Guest lists – be very clear about numbers and always allow for some last-minute additions. Make sure that someone is checking that everyone who arrives has been invited; an older sibling or friend is ideal for this job.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and help plan the perfect party! Remember to keep it simple – karaoke machines, photo booths and hired hot tubs are great but at 16 everyone will be happy just to dress up and go to a party. Getting together with mates and music is really all it takes…

And don’t forget to leave us a comment to let us know how it goes!

Louise & Anna x

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