Teens often feel a strong need to exert their independence, especially in front of their friends, so give teens their space when it comes to throwing their birthday parties. Having an outdoor birthday party in a safe but entertaining environment gives teens their freedom while allowing parents to get involved without getting in the way.
Let teens gather around a bonfire in the backyard, recreational park or at a public beach location for an evening of food and fun. You can set up a station for making smores and it should include marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate. Provide long metal skewers for roasting the marshmallows. Remind teens to use caution with the skewers, making sure they don't present an eye-poking hazard or get left in a precarious position, causing someone to trip. Use rectangular hay bales for comfortable seating and since most teens enjoy listening to music, you may want to include a stereo hookup where teens can take turns connecting their music devices with pre-loaded songs.
This party is ideal from spring to late fall, but if you host the party during the summer, be sure to provide insect repellent and ice-cold sodas so teens can stay cool and comfortable.
Book a party at a local paintball park where teens can spend the day in mock combat. Choose a reputable location where players are carefully supervised and provided with protective gear, especially for their eyes. You can have a pizza delivered to the park, or staffers may already have a package offered that covers food and drinks. A paintball party is perfect for a group of teen boys, but girls can play too and may be more comfortable with a more controlled game-plan, such as target shooting or light combat.
Nothing beats the heat like a classic pool party. Invite a group of teens over to the neighborhood pool for an afternoon of traditional summer fun. You can go all-out and set up a cookout complete with hamburgers, chips and plenty of soft drinks. A pool party is also a prime opportunity to let kids have an egg-toss before they swim. Give them a dozen eggs and pair them into groups of two. Offer the last couple with an intact egg a prize, such as a gift card. (Advise the egg-covered group to use the pool shower before jumping into the water.)
Be sure to advise teens to bring beach towels, sunscreen and a change of clothes. Many teens make the most of socializing when they are at the pool, so be sure they have comfortable seating and lounge chairs. You can also supply teens with pool games such as water volleyball or basketball.
Take a small group of four or six teens (an even number so they can partner on rides) to an amusement park for a day of roller-coasters and free-spirited fun. Pay for the tickets and provide teens with a specific amount of spending money for games and snacks. Let them know they can also bring their own money for extras they may want to purchase throughout the day.
You too can spend the day at the park enjoying the rides with your partner or a friend. You'll be on hand should the teens need you, but be sure to let them enjoy the park on their own. Send them off with a few reminders to be safe and avoid the restricted areas near and underneath rollercoasters.
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Based in Atlanta, Kristen Noelle has been writing since 2007. Her work has appeared in AOL News, "Mothering Magazine," "Maui News," "Christian Science Monitor," "Forsyth County News" and the "Forsyth Herald." Noelle studies comparative literature at the University of Georgia.