It's a milestone when your daughter or son officially go from tween to teen, and for you, dear parent, the pressure is on!
Entertaining teenagers can sometimes be a bit tricky--the last thing you want is for them to be heads down and on their phones! I've always found that having a theme for the party helps everyone get in the mood and have a great time.
Keep reading to discover memorable 13th birthday party themes your kid will think is cool--and might even say thank you for! 😉
Birthday Party: Donut Miss This!
A donut-themed party is a teen-friendly way to celebrate!
Serving donuts at the party is obvious, but why not think outside the box? (Or is it inside the hole? 🙃 )
Set a sweet tone for your guests with an unexpected invitation!
Leave a donut in a bag on each guest’s doorstep. Attach a printed out or handwritten invitation with party details to the top. This fun gesture is not only delicious, it’s memorable.
Donuts also make for handy and inexpensive party decorations.
Simply tie a string around each donut and get creative-- hang them from a kitchen chandelier; make a wreath of donuts and attach it to the front door; adorn the fireplace with them...
Yes, I can hear you thinking…What will the kids do?
Here are some activities to occupy them:
- Design the best donut t-shirt ever! Get some t-shirts and puffy paint or Sharpies and let them adorn it with their favorite flavor
- Guess how many munchkins are in the jar
- Compete blindfolded to try and be the first to gobble up one of the donuts above their head. Simply tie donuts to a ~6’ length of rope that is being held (and possibly wiggled!) by parents or other helpers.
Do-nut be worried, you got this...and I promise, you will make it through the teen years! 😀
Nailed It: Manicure Birthday Party
Teenagers love pampering just as much as adults do!
Treat your birthday teen and a few friends for a manicure or pedicure.
Book in advance and request nail technicians/stations next to one another to create togetherness and listen to them chatter away.
If you opt for pedicures, remind the teens to wear flip flops so their polish isn’t mussed. You can also give each person flip flops as a party favor—in advance!
Prefer to stay home?
Create a DIY nail salon by setting up various polishes and appliques for the party guests to use.
Either set it up outside or use a fun plastic tablecloth to protect your space. Include nail polish remover as well so they can feel free to experiment.
Mama Mia! It’s a Pizza Birthday Party!
Celebrate your teen turning 13 by hosting a pizza party!
I know this may be hard to believe, but there are many kids out there who have never had homemade pizza!
Make or purchase some dough and let the kids roll out their individual pizzas.
Offer toppings ranging from traditional cheese, sauce, pepperoni and sausage to the “Ewwww! Are you really going to put that on your pizza?!?!” options like pineapple, tuna and jalapeños.
Bring the spirit of Italy to the party by adding some red and white check table cloths, an Italian flag and maybe even some Chianti--that's really cranberry grape juice.
The Big Show: Movie Birthday Party
Old flick? Fan favorite? Latest blockbuster?
Deciding on which movie may be the toughest decision of all!
There are plenty of options for how to watch a movie these days. There’s no right or wrong answer, so discuss with your teen which available option sounds like more fun:
- Drive-in theatre
- Traditional movie theatre
- “Fancy” movie theatre with in-seat dining
- Backyard big screen
- Family/living room TV or computer
Be sure to add copious amounts of popcorn, soda or lemonade and candy. The oversize boxes of Milk Duds and Junior Mints that once were only found in movie theater are now available at most grocery stores or Target.
Breakfast for Dinner Birthday Party
Whoever decided that waffles are breakfast food?
Run afoul of the conventional and dare to serve not only waffles, but other breakfast foods—for dinner!
Start with homemade*** or frozen waffles...
Next, set out toppings and syrups, add lots of bacon (I’m always amazed at how much bacon teenagers can eat!) and maybe even a bowl of fruit salad (even if it’s only to make yourself feel better that there’s a healthy option!).
Ask the teens to arrive dressed in their favorite pajamas, give out soft, fuzzy socks as a party favor and put on some of their favorite shows from when they were kid.
You’ll be amazed at how nostalgic your 13-year old can be over shows they watched when they were “little”. 😀
*** If you decide to make the waffles yourself, consider making them before guests arrive. I once hosted this party for my son and his friends and decided to make the waffles while the kids waited...forgetting that each waffle takes several minutes to cook!
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Birthday Party
One of the easiest 13th birthday parties you can throw is a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).
As the name suggests, each guest brings their own cellphone, laptop or tablet and the kids literally sit in a room together and play video games.
While this may not sound fun to us parents, I can assure you it will be a hit with your teens for one simple reason:
Instead of being told to put their devices away, the teens will delight in being encouraged to play video games!
Having hosted this very party before, I was pleasantly surprised to see the genuine camaraderie among the teens as they shot the bad guys and ducked the vampires. Be prepared to hear squeals, whelps and maybe even a four-letter word.
Add some pizza, cake and drinks and the kids will be happily occupied for hours!
Kayaking Down the River Birthday Party
If your kid can’t get enough of the water, why not host a kayak-themed birthday party?
Many areas have facilities that rent kayaks by the hour. (A good place to start is your local parks department or college.) Rentals usually include life preservers and a safety lesson.
Bring lots of sunscreen (some teens will forget, no matter how often they are reminded!), pack bagged lunches and hit the water.
After kayaking, the teens can swim and eat ice cream sandwiches. Depending on what the conditions are, you may want to add some inner tubes for floating, footballs or frisbees.
A Board Birthday Party
If the last idea made you shudder at the thought of MORE screen time for your kid, this suggestion is decidedly low (more like no) tech.
Go old school and break out the board games!
Set up a variety of the games your newly-minted teenager loved in their younger days. Grab Candyland, Chutes & Ladders and whatever others they (and likely you!) played again and again and again.
Having a screen-free event might even help the teens to remember it’s possible to have fun—even without a phone.
Strike 13! Birthday Party
Take your 13-year old and friends bowling!
This is a particularly good theme if your teen plans to invite friends who may not know each other. No prior relationship is necessary to lace up a pair of bowling shoes and throw a ball down the lane.
Party specials at bowling alleys usually include several games, pizza, drinks and cake.
Have your teen invite friends by tying a note with party details to a pair of fuzzy socks. Request that kids wear the socks the day of the party so you can take a fun party photo.
Bonus points if your teen attaches copies of that photo to the thank you notes they write!
Vroom to 13 Birthday Party
Give your teen a license to drive----a go kart!
Host their birthday party at a local go kart track and see who takes first place.
Get takeout from their favorite restaurant afterward and let the drivers compare times.
Escape (their Kid Years) Birthday Party
I’m not sure when Escape Rooms became a “thing”, but most towns have at least one or two locations.
As their name suggests, Escape Rooms “trap” people in a room and require them to solve clues to escape.
Far from any ordinary room, these spaces are filled with "features" like trap doors, books with hidden compartments and paintings where the eyes of some long-lost revered ancestor really do follow you.
Grab dinner nearby and be sure to include dessert. There's no way they'll escape having fun!
Looking for a fun invitation idea?
Pick up some plastic magnifying glasses and attach the party invite to it!