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The Best Birthday Parties for Teens

by Tara Thomas

As older children become teens, hosting a birthday party for them can be daunting. Considering how teenage tastes inevitably change from the parties of the past, the last thing you want is a party that's too childish. The key to throwing the best birthday parties for teens lies in the decorations, entertainment, food and theme. Below are several teen-appropriate party ideas that provide endless inspiration for the celebration.

Tropical and Beach Parties

What teen doesn't love the beach? There are lots of variations on tropical and beach themes to choose from. Turn your backyard or house into a deserted island for a castaway or shipwreck theme. Encourage guests to come in tattered attire, and decorate with netting, tropical fruits, tiki torches and inflatable palm trees. For a twist on this theme, consider a "Survivor" party. Modeled after the popular reality television show, "Survivor" parties are fun for teens, featuring immunity challenges, teams and friendly competition. A slightly more laid-back beach-themed party is the tropical luau. Hand out leis; make fruity, tropical frozen drinks; and offer island-inspired fare such as Hawaiian-style pork, grilled shrimp skewers and tropical fruit salads to satiate even the most restless of natives.

Era Parties

Host a blast-from-the-past celebration for a party your teen's friends won't soon forget. Flappers and gangsters relive the Roaring '20s with lively music and snazzy costumes while poodle-skirted party-goers rock 'n' roll the night away at a 1950s-era ice cream social and sock hop. Guests can don their bell bottoms, leisure suits or other hippie threads for a 1970s shindig complete with disco balls and funky music. As with all good decades, the 1980s is coming back with a vengeance. Bring on the spandex, Madonna cassettes, big hair and legwarmers to celebrate a teen birthday in true 1980s style.

Seasonal Parties

If your teen is lucky enough to have a birthday that coincides with a seasonal holiday, use this as a springboard for ideas. Tea parties or garden-themed parties are tailor-made for springtime while summer beach bashes are perfect for teens of any age. For those with fall birthdays, host a harvest festival birthday party by decorating the house with autumn decorations such as gourds, hay bales and cornucopias. In the colder months, throwing a Winter X Games-style party will be a guaranteed hit with extreme sports-loving teens.

Unique Parties

Your teen will be over the moon with an intergalactic theme party. Send rocket ship invitations worded like boarding tickets inviting guests on the trip of a lifetime. Encourage party goers to come as astronauts, robots or aliens and play electronic music or old sci-fi movies in the background. Host a contest with a prize for the guest with the most out-of-this-world costume. Murder mystery parties are popular with adults, but teens can enjoy these whodunnit mystery parties, as well. Create your own plot and cast of characters, or use one of the many templates that can be found online.

About the Author

Tara Thomas has been a writer and traveler since 1997. Her articles appear in various online publications. She also has experience authoring grant proposals for a Southern California marine science laboratory, which helped her develop a lifelong interest in environmentalism. Thomas has a Bachelor of Science in marine biology from California State University, Long Beach, and has worked as a mortgage consultant since 1998.

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