6 cool party themes for teens and tweens

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Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s June 2017 issue. Never miss an issue, check out SFM’s digital editions, here

article by Pam Molnar

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 killer party by just inviting friends, ordering pizza, and plugging her phone into a speaker, I knew they would spend much of the party concentrating on their phones instead of each other.

Instead, 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 we came up with.

Night at the Club-

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

An ’80’s Party-

My kids know all the ’80’s songs from Bon Jovi to ZZ Top because they grew up listening to them. At an ’80’s themed party guests can dress up as their parents did back in the day. Offer a variety of ’80’s 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 ’80’s Star” which is a spinoff of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”. Create ’80’s trivia questions with a lifeline to parents or poll the audience. Serve popular ’80’s foods like pizza rolls, jello pudding pops, sloppy joes, and of course, Tab.

Murder Mystery-

Not only is a Murder Mystery Party a theme within a theme, it is also a fun way to release your 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 will include character descriptions, a storyline, and directions. Inform your guests ahead of time so they can dress for their role or offer costumes when they arrive. Your meal should revolve around your murder mystery setting.

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. The game can easily be set up in your neighborhood. Set challenges at the park, a neighbor’s backyard, or a local business. Game printables can be found on Etsy. Incorporate food in your challenges so everyone is fed, but offer appetizers and desserts before and after the race. Challenge food games may include making a Fruit Loop necklace with a certain pattern of colors and then eating it before moving on to the next challenge.

Minute to Win-

This is a fun party for all ages and a simple set up for the party planning challenged. Guests are given one minute to do a variety of simple challenges such as: picking up four dry penne pastas with a dry spaghetti noodle. Players can be individual or broken into teams of 2 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 head to the dollar store for supplies. Food ideas include quick and easy make-it-yourself bars like tacos, pasta, or baked potatoes.

Social Media Party-

Okay, if you can’t beat them, join them. This is as close to it comes to just hanging out. Set up a photo booth with props for fun party posts. Play “Find a Post” where players receive points for having posted a particular item on social media – a team logo, their pet, a picture of a Starbucks cup. You can also play, “Best of” where all players take a preplanned photo and post it. The person with the most likes in one minute is the winner. Serve food that only requires one hand to eat so the teens can continue to eat and Tweet. Try foods you can stick with a toothpick like cheese cubes, cocktail meatballs, or cut up fruits and veggies.

Let’s Play a Game:

  1. Photo Scavenger Hunt: Players have to find pictures of items that spell out the birthday girl’s name. Example, C=Cookie, A=Abercrombie logo
  2. Local Apples to Apples: Add cards to your Apples to Apples game to include local information like teachers’ names, favorite stores or restaurants, etc.
  3. Friendly Feud: This is a spin-off on the game show, Family Feud. Split group into teams and ask questions to get points for your team. Create your own questions or find online.
  4. Name that Food: Select foods to be served in a blind taste test. Alter the smell of the food by having the tasters wear fruit roll up mustaches.
  5. Carnival Games: These are easy to set up and fun to play. Balloon darts, ping pong balls in fish bowls, three-legged race, or knock down the cups with a ball.
  6. Truth or Task: The players are given a question that they have to answer truthfully, if they don’t answer, they must perform a task like say the ABCs backwards or sing “Let It Go” from Frozen.

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