Teens typically want a type of party or celebration for their birthdays that is quite different from the ones they had when they were younger children. Consider your teen's favorite activities, personality and desires when planning the birthday celebration. Involve him and maybe a few of his closest friends in the planning, if it isn't supposed to be a surprise.
An activity that your teen is interested in can be the theme or idea of the party, and you can hire a professional to teach her and her friends about the activity. For example, hire a dancer, trainer, pro-skater or martial arts expert to give guests a lesson. Invitations could include a picture of your teen enjoying the activity or a corresponding design, such as a skateboard for a pro-skating session, or you can write the info on a white or black belt for a martial arts lesson.
You can plan a "kidnapping" party--with your teen's friends' parents in on the ruse. Pick up his friends from their beds in the middle of the night or from random spots throughout the day in a limo or van. Bring them all back to your house or an activity center for the party. If you grab everyone early in the morning, serve breakfast, such as your teen's favorite pastries.
Allow your teen to choose a couple of her closest friends for the outing of her choice, as long as it falls within your budget. Alternatively, purchase tickets to an event you believe your teen would enjoy and present them to her, allowing her to choose her companions. Events teens commonly enjoy include concerts highlighting her favorite musician or band, tickets to the latest movie or a sports event featuring her favorite team. Water parks or theme parks are another option, as they give the teens the opportunity to have some freedom within the park.
Grown-up scavenger hunts that include going through the entire neighborhood or traveling around the town can give the teens a sense of freedom with a specific purpose. For example, you can split the teens into two or more teams with an adult driver and have them go around town trying to snap pictures from their list, such as the group in front of their favorite local hangout or with a policeman.
Let your teen invite boys and girls to his party. Plan an activity that both genders can enjoy, while avoiding unbecoming situations. A glow-in-the-dark dance party with inconspicuous adult supervision is one option. Alternatively, rent a hall or river boat for a casino night where the teens can play poker, roulette and blackjack. Give them real poker chips with their invitations that they can cash in for favors, such as gum or candy.
Your teen can invite a group of her closest friends for a slumber party with a grown-up twist. The girls can partake in karaoke, modeling contests, making music videos to their favorite songs or taking turns giving each other spa treatments. Give the girls makeup and nail polish or let them make their own T-shirts or pillowcases to take home as favors. Music, food, chick flicks and facials will likely keep the young ladies entertained all night.