The last such checklist you’ll need to read!
Your teen’s birthday is coming up and you want to have the party at home?
Trying to focus on organizing the party but just can’t get started?
Different people (and different blog posts) giving you all kinds of advice and getting you confused?
I hear you.
Which is why I’m publishing this essential checklist for organizing a teenager’s birthday party at home. It’ll take you step by step through the entire process, from how to start planning to when to place orders, how to chaperone the party and even what to do when it’s over.
Planning a teenager’s birthday party - the checklist
Planning for the party
Ideally, party planning for a teenager’s birthday celebration should begin 6-8 weeks before the birthday (maybe even earlier).
That might seem too long a time, but trust me, there’s going to be so many things to plan for, and given that you’re not making this your full-time job, you’re gonna need the time.
Involve your kid in the planning
When I say ‘involve your kid in the planning’, I don’t mean ask for their opinion on a few topics you feel they should have a voice in (like the party theme and guest list) and then do everything by yourself.
You should involve them in every step of the planning, from deciding food options to the legwork (like delivering invitations).
- Teenagers tend to take adults’ handiwork with a pinch of salt.
- If you do most of the planning yourself and something doesn’t live up to their expectations, it’ll be your fault.
- If, on the other hand, they’re involved at every step of the planning process, you’re in the clear.
- It’s an opportunity for them to learn the practical aspects of planning and organizing. A very valuable life skill.
- If something goes wrong and you’re there to set things right, they’ll have new respect for you as a person.
Select a second chaperone
It goes without saying that teenage birthday parties HAVE to be chaperoned by someone responsible. You’re the best person for the job.
However, having a second chaperone, ideally an older teen (maybe their older sibling) or someone who’s just passed teenage is a great idea.
They can mix in with the party crowd better than you, be a second pair of eyes, and deal with most situations that might arise.
Pro tip: Remember, there’s a difference between a chaperone and a bodyguard. Don’t constantly hover around the party as you’ll end up dampening the mood. Check in once in a while, preferably under the guise of doing something else (like getting yourself some food from the fridge).
Set a party budget
This is where you’ll really need to focus. Remember, for a birthday party at home, everything - from the decor to music to games - is up to you.
So, with your teen, list out all the heads (decor, activities, food, etc) and set out a budget for each of them.
N.B. This isn’t a one-sitting or a one-day job. While you can list out all the heads in one sitting (chances are you’ll miss a few but that’s not the point here), you need to have an idea of what the associated costs will be. That will take research - a few trips to the big W and a few online searches to shop for the best prices.
Have a talk on important issues
These can range from things that are close to teens’ hearts (like smoking and drinking) to topics that most teens aren’t aware of or won’t think of (like noise limits).
- Noise restrictions: They can vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, so make it a point to check what it is in your neighbourhood and discuss it with your teens.
- Smoking and drinking: Like it or not, smoking and drinking are a part of early teenage discourse. Don’t avoid these, to appear a ‘cool’ parent. Have a frank conversation with them, and make them aware of any state and local laws, especially on alcohol.
- Safety: Walk around the entire house with your children, and work together on determining safety issues and think how to address them.
- Neighbours: The neighbours must be made aware of the party so they’ll expect a bit of noise on that day. Have your teen take the lead on talking with the neighbours, but be there with them.
- Gatecrashers: Nowadays with social media, talk of any party, especially involving teens, can spread like wildfire. How do you restrict attendees only to the guest list you prepare and how should you deal with gatecrashers?
Involving your teen in understand these issues and having the discussions will make it easier to lay down ground rules for the party.
Make the guest list
How many guests does your kid want at their birthday party? How many do you think can be reasonably accommodated?
Do they want to invite anyone you’re not comfortable or familiar with?
Pro tip: Be prepared to have to accommodate a few more guests than you’re planning on inviting. Like I said, word of the party will spread and you’re dreaming if you think only people on your guest list will turn up.
That being said, do have a plan on dealing with party-crashers.
Set the date and time
What the heck?, you’re probably saying to yourself. Shouldn’t the birthday party be held on the birthday? Then what’s all this about setting a date?
Here’s the deal. Having the party on the birthday may not always be practical.
- You don’t want to have a party on Sunday evening, as everyone will have class the next day.
- You don’t want the party to clash with other events (another party or some other event) otherwise your party may end up with few to no guests attending.
So, set the date at the beginning of the weekend (Saturday?) or during a holiday.
Pro tip: As far as when the party ends, have two ‘end times’. The first/announced end time when you holler “OK, party’s over! Time to go home!”. And the second/real end time by which the house should be empty of guests, including the eternal lingerers, and the ones who hide around.
Draw up a list of party games and activities
Do you really need me to tell you that you should let your teen take charge of this?
That being said, you should keep an eye on the plans to ensure nothing too extravagant or unacceptable makes their way into the plans.
If they’re short on game ideas, refer them to this post on games for teenagers’ birthday parties.
Once the list is ready, you’ll have to arrange for all of those things to actually happen. Game supplies will have to be bought. Music will have to be arranged for.
Your teen might lose interest once the list of activities is drawn up. It’s essential you get them involved in the logistics as well to give them the practical experience of planning an event that I talked about earlier. It’s a valuable life lesson.
Setting up for the party
With the planning done, you’ll have to set up the house for the event. Ideally, you should start setting up 2-3 weeks in advance to have plenty of time to get everything done.
Sending out the invitations
You might have misty-eyed parental sentiments of getting your kid to write out paper invitations and send them by post, but trust me. Your kid won’t like that.
Ten to one they prefer to send out the invites online, mostly through social media and chat apps.
But you need to work out how to make them closed invitations so they aren’t seen by just about anybody (we discussed this earlier too).
Pro tip: Remember to include an RSVP so you have a rough idea how many guests are going to be there.
Set up the party area
Nope, the whole house is NOT the party area. Set up a party area within which the party should be limited.
Discuss it with your teen and draw a rough map.
To avoid making a mess, have separate zones within the party area. Typical zones would be a food and beverage zone, a music and dance zone, a games and activities zone, and so on.
If you have a garden or a yard, think about setting up a firepit so guests can have a barbeque if they want to.
But remember if you do have a firepit, you and your second chaperone will have to keep an eye on it at all times.
Keep clearly labeled trash or recycling bins all around the party area.
Removing valuable and/or delicate items
Needless to say, if you keep the family china in the middle of the party area, it WILL be found in pieces by the end of the party and you’ll have nobody to blame but yourself.
Walk the entire party area, and remove all valuable and/or delicate items and keep them in one room, which is clearly off-limits during the party. Lock the room if you have to.
Placing food and associated orders
Ideally, food and associated orders should be placed a week in advance. Consult with your teen(s) on the menu.
Don’t include anything too heavy. Light snacks like chips and pretzels, some dip, one vegan option and fizzy drinks should be enough. Oh, and remember to have candies and chocolate for dessert.
The birthday cake: Set a budget, and ask your kid to place the order on their own.
The ‘associated orders’: Disposable plates, spoons, forks and cups.
Barring the cake, most food items can be brought to the house and stored in the pantry the day before the party.
Set up the house
Decor, music systems, food tables, activity things (like a ping pong table) should be set up a day or two before the party.
Don’t place them too early as you’ll end up tripping over stuff the entire day.
D-Day: the day of the birthday party
It’s finally here: the day you’ve been planning for over the last month and a half! Great!
So, how do you get through it smoothly?
Remain calm and patient
Despite the best of your efforts, and even despite the efforts of your kids, there WILL be some spills, things broken, and screaming or music that’s too loud.
Keep calm. Give them a chance to come to you before you assert control.
Also remember that your partner chaperone, if they’re an older sibling, may be able to handle some of these things better than you.
Avoid trying to join in the festivities
OK, there are some parents out there who have a genuine ability to connect with teenagers and get involved in their activities without a hitch.
If you’re one of those parents, great!
If you aren’t, don’t try to join in the festivities. I know. Your parental sentiments want to be a part of it all. But remember, teenage is not the age that’s very kindly disposed towards parental sentiments.
They’ll want to preserve a sense of independence on their special day, in front of their friends. Let them have it. You’ll have plenty of other opportunities to have family time with them.
This is where you should preferably set a ground rule - your teen has to help with the post-party cleanup.
You can offer them an incentive - they can earn some cash for doing a good job, plus they can keep the entire cash from recycling whatever’s recyclable from the party trash.
Ready to plan and organize your teenager’s birthday party at home?
Yes, having the birthday party at home involves a lot of planning and work, but it can be a richly fulfilling experience, especially if you can involve your teenager in the process.
It will give you a lot of parent-offspring bonding time with them, teach them valuable life skills, and you may even end up earning a lot more of their respect.
On the other hand, if you want to avoid all the fuss, you can have the party at Sydney’s best birthday party venue for over 2 hours of party fun, including activities like VR escape games, arcade games, a party room, and snacks.
If it’s not time yet for the birthday party, but you’re looking for parent-offspring bonding opportunities, make a booking at Sydney’s best-loved VR escape room.
And finally, if you found this post useful, bookmark Sydney’s best parties and events blog to access all our future content easily!
Fmage by lisa runnels from Pixabay.