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Party Ideas for Teens & Pre-Teens

Advice, discussions, and reviews from the Parents of Teens weekly email newsletter.

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Party Ideas for Teens & Pre-Teens


Questions Party Ideas on Other Pages More Advice about Parties

Girls' 15th birthday who loves fashion and food

Nov 2012

My niece is turning 15 and loves fashion and food. Can someone recommend a cooking program for about 5 girls or something having to do with fashion we could plan a birthday party around, instead of the normal bowling, shopping, etc for teens. Thanks RocQuel


Does your daughter watch ''Project Runway?'' I organized a ''Project Runway'' birthday party for my daughter a number of years ago. One t-shirt design challenge (individual) and one party outfit challenge (teams with names picked out of hat). Bought cheap plain t's and lots of fabric remnants. Added fabric markers, tape, string, ribbon, safety pins, scissors, etc. Stuck the girls in the garage with tables, chairs, and music, and they went at it. After time expired for each challenge, we videotaped and photographed runway shows and group photos. The group photos became party favors. It was a lot of fun, and the girls had a blast (even those who didn't watch the show). Holly
We just had a birthday party where we did a ''trashion show''. We gathered bubble wrap, trash bags, aluminum foil, pie tins, rolls of TP, tape, and some blingy stuff from yard sales. The girls worked in teams to sketch out, design and create high fashion wear. Then we played music and had a trashion show runway walk. It was the funniest and the girls had a blast. dori

Movie suggestions for party for 11-14 year olds

April 2012

I'm having a group of 11-14 year old boys and girls over for a movie night. What should I show? I especially despise movies that are sexist, showing girls disempowered. I need to have it rated less than (R), except perhaps just for language. They don't want to see any ''old'' movies, either. I've heard ''She's The Man'' may work. Your suggestions are greatly appreciated. MovieMom


I don't have a specific movie recommendation for you, but I thought you might be interested in the website http://www.commonsensemedia.org/. They provide information about movies (and other media, books, games, etc.) in a whole host of categories, including positive ones, and negative (language, violence, drinking...), recommendations for which age group they are appropriate for, descriptions, and so on. Might help you choose a film. Karen
We love movies at our house, and it was difficult to think of any teen films with relevant social commentary especially with strong female roles, that were not rated R. Maybe Harry Potter?? ''She's the Man'' is a pretty bad movie, check out Rotten Tomatoes.

I think a choice of film really depends on the maturity of your group not the rating system, which often seems irrelevant and misguided. Too bad they don't want any ''old'' movies, because the 1980's sure had alot of great teen films. Here a few that I thought of with my 14 year old:

Scott Pilgram vs. The World ... Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist ... Adventureland (this one is R) ... 500 Days of Summer ... Howls Moving Castle (animation) ... 10 Things I Hate about You

good luck, it can be a hard group to please. East Bay Mom


Our family, which includes a 13-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy that seldom agree on anything, loves ''Napoleon Dynamite'' (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0374900/) and ''Dodgeball'' (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0364725/). I'm pretty adverse to violence and demeaning depictions of girls and women, and neither movie offended me in the slightest. Both flicks also feature plenty of goofy comedy that has our kids roaring with laughter even after multiple viewings over the course of several years (we finally broke down and bought the DVDs for our movie library). Best of luck with your movie party! Leah
My daughter (10th grade) suggests ''Mean Girls,'' ''Ghost Busters,'' ''Hugo,'' ''500 Days of Summer.'' anon
Train Man. It's a Japanese movie about a very young nerdy guy who befriends a beautiful girl on the subway when she's being harassed by an old drunk. She sends him a thank you gift and many changes ensue as he musters the courage to get to know her, with help from his anonymous on-line support group. I'm sure it could be described better than I have. It's wonderful, innocent and sophisticated. Only downside is the subtitles. Might be dubbed, but the vocal expression of the original is memorable. Available on Netflix. Enjoy. Movie fan
I like checking the Commonsense Media website...they give lots of details about the movie in question, as well as what the 'red flags' are. a mom who pays attn to movies!
My 10 & 13 year old boys LOVED The Descendants. There is language. No sex or violence. Lots of laughs, good music & scenery, thought provoking themes...really good. I liked it too.

Teen ice breaker activities for family dinner parties?

March 2011

My son, a high school junior, is starting to emerge from his shell and would like me to invite various nascent friends, and their families, over for dinners. We often have dinner parties with other families that we already know-- I am a single parent and this is fun and helps create a little bit more of a normal social life for us.

In inviting over these new kids, most of whose parents I don't know, it would be helpful to have some ice breaker activities for the teenagers. We don't have videogames at our house and our ping pong table got too wet in a recent storm and had to be trashed. My son is quite intellectual, and I suspect most of the kids coming over will also be rather intellectual, and nice. Any recommendations for teen-acceptable board games, etc...things that are easy to jump into when one arrives at a new home...would be much appreciated! The kids will be fine making conversation but it'll help my son to have some things for people to do at first.


We're a family of foodies so this suggestion is biased in that direction.

We have a large family holiday party every year with friends and extended family. When my son was a sophomore, he wanted to add to our guest list some of his school friends and families we knew but had never socialized with. He was excited to host the teens in a separate area in our downstairs den but nervous as to how to get things rolling. Our solution was to line up a series of need-to-be-prepped snacks for the teens that they could put together as his buddies showed up. All the party-planning books, websites and magazines have ideas for easy to build party snacks.

He chose chips with a dip that needed mixing, chicken wings that needed warming (from Trader Joes), and easy fruit ''kabobs'' that needed skewering (we prepped the fruit early so it was ready to go). In addition, I left some last minute set-up tasks (napkins out, ice in buckets, etc.) for the teens to help me with as they arrived so they were immediately thrown into the mix. It worked like a charm. Not only did everyone have a great time, they were all comfortable flowing from upstairs to down and back throughout the evening. Now when we have family-style dinner parties, I always leave some appetizers to be assembled by the teens and give them permission to take some away to the den before our meal. I find that breaks the ice with a common task then they figure the rest out. Sometimes, they never even get to the den and end up inventing some new appetizer concoction instead.

It works for us.....good luck! The party always starts in the kitchen!


A fun, challenging, competitive board game that crosses age boundaries from 9 to 99 is 'Settlers of Catan'. It is Monopoly-like with a bit more complicated rules. Takes a few hours before a winner emerges. Can be played with as few as 3 people. If a larger social group, I suggest teams so that individuals can leave and re-enter the game over the course of play. game lover

Party for 16-year-old that doesn't go out-of-control?

March 2008

My 16-yr-old son really wants to have parties,and has had a few. We have a good house and he and his friends have been very responsible. However, they have all grown too big, with too many extended friends, etc. Has anyone had any success with controlling these parties or do I just have to say NO. The kids really need a place to go, but at the moment I must say no since they are too hard to control. He's pressing me to have an after-prom party and I can't do it...I wish there was something to suggest...!!! Any ideas for alternatives? Thanks for your help, I need it here.


I suggest you contact the parents of a few of your son's friends and together rent a space and host and chaperone the party. Just last night my 13 year old son attended a wonderful party held at a Yoga studio in Albany (can't remember the name) on Talbot near Solano -- behind a little house. The space was perfect sized, and had a little enclosed yard out back. There was only one entrance, so it was very easy to monitor -- with an adult posted at the gate. The food was soda and chips -- and a ''DJ'' played tunes (and also was a set of adult eyes in the room, unobtrusive but definately there). The adults kept their distance -- sitting in the yard near the entrance -- but the kdis knew they were there. If you can find this type of set up and split the cost -- and responsibility -- with other parents, it seems ideal. You should also generate real (paper) invitations so that the party does not become ''open.'' I agree that kids need good places to congregate, celebrate, dance and flirt. If we don't provide well monitored, safe places for their normal adolescent activities, they will surely find other places, unmonitored, on their own. The cost in time and money is more than worth it! Plus, it's kind of fun. Former Party Girl now Vigilant Parent of Teens

13-year-old wants to have a Halloween party

Sept 2007

My 13 year old son would like to host a Halloween Party and invite 30+ friends-both boys and girls. Of course my husband and I will be present the entire evening. There will be food, music and dancing. My son had demonstrated very responsible behavior and has never given us one reason to worry about the choices he makes. We like his friends and he is very social. It's the other kids I worry about. Should we allow him to host the party and if so, what kinds of activities should we provide to keep the party on the straight and narrow. I'd love to hear from anyone who has allowed (or not) their child to host their first boy/girl party. I'd also appreciate any tips to keep party running smoothly. Mom


I don't have advice specifically about activities for the party but just wanted to advise you to make sure the party has a definite ending time and that the kids' parents know what the ending time is. We've had a couple of parties that were supposed to end at a certain time and I still had kids hanging around for hours after because they ''forget'' to tell their parents when to pick them up or their parents couldn't come then or some other lame excuse. I don't mean to sound like a party pooper, but believe me, the frantic energy generated by groups of kids this age is exhausting for grown-ups, and when this party is over you will want them all to leave! anon
My daughter had her first co-ed party for her 12th bday. I said she had to invite about the same number of boys and girls so it wouldn't be just a few boys (in her case). I think 30 is too many. We had about 15. Party was from 6-10. That was plenty long enough. I would recommend 7-10. We had lots of activities planned. They only did them for about 5 minutes each, but it was helpful to have them, because when I saw they seemed to be at loose ends I introduced a new activity. And of course for a while the girls danced and the boys watched. We (parents) stayed in our bedroom and made periodic sweeps through the party. Everything went fine! Good Luck!

Murder Mystery party for preteen Halloween

Sept 2005

My pre-teen daughter is interested in hosting a murder mystery party for Halloween. I've seen lots of ''kits'' available online but I don't know how to tell which ones are good. Has anyone out there ever done this sucessfully? Any recommendations on kits or formats? Any tips to make sure everyone has fun? Thanks for the help!
Needs A Clue


I've been to four or five (adult) murder mystery parties and have always had a great time. My friend (who has hosted all of the parties) finds the boxed versions at garage sales. They've all been a little corny, some better than others, sometimes the cornier the better. But, the quality of the story doesn't seem to matter much. What has been great fun is that people have worn costumes (sometimes just a ''hint'' of one), taken on an accent, and otherwise tried to get into character. I don't think it's as much fun to be an observer (i.e. more guests than characters in the script) but I have done that too.

I found this link on-line which, though a little pricier than a boxed version, sounds great. It would be helpful to have someone else accomodate the number and gender of the guests. (My friend would usually try to do this.) http://www.host-a-murder.com/teen.html

Sounds like a great idea for a party for pre-teens. You might want to have some costume props available for those kids who might not otherwise get into it.
Have fun! Sally


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