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Planning the Perfect Sweet 16 Birthday Party

Updated on August 11, 2015

Sweet! Turning 16 already? Slow down there and think clearly before all of that sweetness turns to undue stress.

With your sweet 16 birthday rapidly approaching, you probably have a lot of thoughts running through your head; you want to trade your learner’s permit for a license, you want to get that awesome cherry-red sports car you saw for sale around the corner(and the last one, and the one before that…) and you want to get a job soon to afford the luxurious life of a 16-year-old.

There is no better way to kick all of this off than to throw an awesome sweet 16 party!

Mark the date on your calendar, figure out a budget and get started with the plans!

Choosing a Theme

A theme can make or break any party so it is important that you think about this a few months in advance to make sure you are selecting the absolute best theme. The theme should be fun, desirable, and unique to you! If you already have a venue in mind, look for theme ideas that would work well with the venue, otherwise it’s best to choose the venue after choosing the theme.

When it comes to choosing the theme, possibilities are endless: sports, hobbies, colors, shapes, throwback, ethnic, costume and traditional, just to name a few.

  • Consider the season. Having a luau party in the wintertime might make your party guests go coco-nuts.

  • Find inspiration. Check websites such as Pinterest, iParty, and Party City. Often times, you will be able to search themes and come up with ideas as a great starting point.

Finding the Perfect Venue

Once you have chosen your theme, you will be ready to decide what place would be best to throw such a party.

Keep in mind that the less you spend on a venue, the more money you will have to be allocated towards other things needed for the party.

You can take a cheap venue that seems so drab, like a park pavilion, for example and spice it up with decorations to a point that it doesn’t even seem like a pavilion! Maybe your grandparents offered to rent out their community clubhouse, but all you can picture is your guests playing bingo or shuffleboard.

If this option is available to you, really take a step back and look at a venue like this.

A community clubhouse is often a cost-effective option and can really be decorated to look youthful and fun!

If you prefer to spend more money on a venue, a lot of places offer party packages that can include food, cake, and even decorations so you would have less planning to worry about.

No matter where you are located or whatever your budget, there is a place to have your party:

  • parks
  • beaches
  • event halls
  • ballrooms at hotels
  • restaurants that rent out party rooms
  • and the list goes on and on!


Invitations and Guest List

Invitations are a must when throwing a party and they are also a great way to let your creativity flow while coordinating them with your chosen theme. Before you break out your scrapbooking supplies, you will need to make a full list of everyone to invite.

It is very important that you coordinate this part with your parents first as they may already have in mind who to invite, aside from your friends. And they have the money. That’s important.

While email and virtual invitations are becoming increasingly popular, these are not the most effective way to reach out to everyone so stick with the traditional way of inviting people, by way of mailed invitations.

Types of invitations:

  • DIY--Do It Yourself

  • Custom ordered online (,,, etc.)

  • Store-bought fill-in

  • Store-bought printable

  • Photo invites

Party Entrance Ideas

An entrance can be so much more than just walking into the room and greeting everyone; if you’re the extroverted type and really enjoy being center of attention, then this is for you!

This is not only fun and entertaining, but a golden opportunity to set the mood for your party that you’ve been dreaming up for the last few months.

  • Utilize your skills: Gymnastics, acrobatics, dancing, singing, and so on.

  • Keep the theme in mind, when necessary.

  • Example: If you’re a female and having a luau-themed party, you may want to enter wearing a hula skirt, coconut top and leis instead of an elegant pageant gown, high heels and a tiara. Can’t you tell I like luau parties? (:

Make it exciting, be creative, make it you!

Food and Birthday Cake Ideas

Let’s face it, food and cake is one of the best parts about a birthday party, so this is one area to really pay attention to. If you have a venue taking care of the food, great! If not, please proceed.

If you are an exceptional cook already, or have family members who can cook, this is one way you’ll be able to have great food at a party without breaking the budget, just try not to be cooking on your big day. On the other hand, it’s perfectly okay if you can’t even cook a piece of toast without burning it, because lucky for you, most restaurants cater!

Regardless of the circumstances, food decisions need to be made, and common sense goes a long way.

When it comes to choosing the food:

  • Apply the theme of the party to some of the food selections.

  • If your party is outdoors, a cookout is normally appropriate.

  • If someone offers to bring a dish to help, take advantage of it.

As for cake, there are many local bakeries around, and you may already have a favorite one!

There are many different types of cake or birthday desserts to choose from:

  • Traditional round or sheet cake

  • Tiered cake

  • Pull apart cake

  • Cupcakes

  • Cookie cake

  • Ice cream cake

  • Pie

Any option for dessert can be garnished to match your theme, so be sure to just choose your favorite!


Favors and Gift Bags

Goodie bags are a thing of the past, right? Wrong! This is your Sweet 16, a day that you want everyone to remember with you for a long time! This is a really fun one for the creative and craft-inclined as there are many things you could do as DIY favors, keeping it theme-appropriate while adding a “sweet 16” touch to it.

If you are not the DIY type, there are plenty of websites and stores where you can order personalized favors for any occasion. Websites such as are good for when you need items in bulk including party favors, decorations, serveware and so on.

Additional Planning Tips

You might think that you are on top of everything, but just to make sure, try the following ideas:

  • Keep an organizer, or appoint someone you trust to keep an organizer. There is a lot of planning involved and keeping things organized will help save time in the long run.

  • Have a backup plan for everything. Literally. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong and you have no idea how to handle it.

Throughout the whole planning process, keep telling yourself that you will have a totally successful party that you will never forget. The best part is just sitting back on your birthday and watching all of the plans unfold just exactly as you had imagined.

Smile! This is a fun, once-in-a-lifetime day and it will be over before you know it!

What is your dream sweet 16 birthday party?

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Love Her Sweet 16 Dress!


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