The sweet 16 party is a fun rite of passage and one of those milestone birthdays with high expectations. At 16, a teen girl’s need to impress their friends (especially boys!) is at its peak, which means the party needs to have a certain “cool” factor. At the same time, they still want a chance to be goofy with their friends, which makes party themes super helpful.
If you’re a parent of a soon-to-be 16-year-old, we encourage you to take advantage of these popular sweet 16 party ideas. From affordable sweet 16 invitations that fit your theme to decorations that will help you pull your theme off with gusto, we’ve got you covered!
1.) Paris Themed Sweet 16
A Paris themed sweet 16 party is super trendy, yet somehow as classic and enduring as Paris itself. Start by sending out Paris themed sweet sixteen invitations. Once the invitations are sent, start masterminding your decorations. We recommend using a party table as the anchor for your Paris theme, using decorative Eiffel towers of different shapes and sizes, black berets, strings of faux pearls, French curio boxes, antique coin purses, and costume hats and gloves that call to mind high French fashion.
We love how the Paris themed party table above features black and white photos of Paris as a backdrop. You could easily frame up a few photos of Paris in vintage frames to create a similar look in your own home. Black, white, and pink ruffled tablecloths are great for creating a look of simple opulence. Food options might include slow cooker French dip mini sandwiches, fancy cheese platters, macarons, beignets, and madeleines.
Choose a wall of your home where you can drape a black and white striped tablecloth for a photo backdrop, like the one above, where the birthday girl and her friends can create photo memories. Embellish your photo backdrop with Eiffel tower and other Paris themed decals. Have a bucket nearby full of Paris themed photo props, like black berets, red scarves, French costume jewelry, white gloves, pink feather boas, and fake French mustaches.
2.) Glow in the Dark Sweet 16
The popularity of dubstep and electronic dance music (EDM) among teens has led to a surge in glow in the dark sweet 16 parties. Different twists on this party include neon parties and blacklight parties, where glow in the dark clothing and glow stick accessories take center stage. We love how this theme appeals to both guys and girls and lends itself to brightly colored decorations, like the ones below that we spotted over at Kara’s Party Ideas.
To keep things fun, have a variety of glow in the dark body paints on hand so that the birthday girl’s guests can create fun neon designs on their faces and arms. Glow stick jewelry is also a necessity. Use glow in the dark party plates and glasses and feature party food and drinks with bright pops of neon color, like vividly colored jelly beans, rock candy, Skittles, and fruit punch. Neon colored jello shooters are always a big hit too, not to mention budget friendly.
3.) Sweet 16 Dance Party
While a sweet 16 dance party might seem intimidating to some teens, others relish a chance to burn up the dance floor with their friends while listening to their favorite jams. Instead of going all out to hire a DJ and rent dance equipment, you can actually pull off a dance party for significantly less money by creating your own dance floor, hanging up a few disco balls, and letting your teen curate their own dance music. You can also save money on a sweet 16 dance party by choosing discount invitations online, like the example below.
Keep the party going with lots of group dances, like the Electric Slide, the Wobble, and the Cotton Eye Joe, which tend to refill the dance floor when it gets too empty. Songs with iconic dance moves, such as Thriller, Gangnam Style, Soulja Boy, and Nae Nae are perennial favorites. Dance party games could include the limbo, hula hoop contents, a Macarena contest, and an old fashioned dance off. If your teen as a game console, another alternative is a game of competitive Dance Dance Revolution.
4.) Sweet 16 Masquerade Party
A sweet 16 masquerade party mixes fun with old school glamour by encouraging teens to come dressed in masques and fine attire. You’ll need to let your guests know that the party is a masquerade party in your invitations and include any attire specifications in the invitation wording, such as “formal attire requested.”
For teens, we think masquerade parties are the most fun when paired with a fun challenge, like a murder mystery or an in-costume scavenger hunt around the neighborhood. At the very least, have a contest with awards going to the person with the most elaborate masque or the most creative costume.
Masquerade party decorations are simple with a two- or three-tone color scheme. To achieve the look above, simply fill a variety of clear vases and serving dishes with different types of candies and treats. You can use any clear serving dishes you have on hand, borrow some from friends, or pick up a few from the dollar store or a bargain store like Marshall’s. Have two tall clear vases filled with beads and dressed with long, white, decorative feathers. Adorned with some DIY paper masques, these vases will look glamorous with minimal effort or cost. We love the giant cardboard masque that adorns the backdrop of the masquerade party table above.
5.) Hollywood Sweet 16 Party
Glitz and glam is the name of the game with a Hollywood sweet 16 party. For decorations, we suggest creating a replica of the famous Hollywood sign in your front yard and welcoming guests with a roll-out red carpet. Hang black and white photos of famous celebrities like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and James Dean in gilded frames, interspersed with black and white photos of the birthday girl and her friends. You can also dangle DIY gold glitter stars from your ceiling.
For food, try “dressed up” versions of regular food, like “gilded” popcorn (aka caramel corn), tuxedo strawberries, star-shaped cookies, or cupcakes in gold wrappers on three-tiered displays. We love these hot dogs above dressed in little tuxedos made from butcher paper, black tissue paper, and red cardstock. (get the tutorial here)! Top the birthday girl’s cake with DIY gold glitter sweet sixteen candles using a couple of standard wax number candles, ModPodge, a sponge brush, and some fine gold glitter.
Have a Sweet 16!
We hope these sweet 16 party themes inspire you to plan an unforgettable party for your teenager! Remember to get a few photos with the birthday girl before her guests arrive. You’ll want to remember what all your decorations look like before the wave of teens starts making a mess!