Planning your child’s 16th birthday party takes discussion and compromise, but it is still possible to make a 16th birthday sweet for both you and your teenager.

Sweet sixteen and never been kissed, or so the old song used to go. 16 has always been a magically regarded age, in songs and stories throughout history. From a purely legal point of view, it is also the official age at which your child can get married without your permission or have sex. While this in itself may not be a jubilant cause for celebration (!) turning 16 is considered one of those special milestones and worth marking with an extra bit of fuss.

Planning a 16th birthday party : 16th birthday themes : 16th birthday food : Making 16th birthday memories

Planning a 16th Birthday Party

Your childs 16th birthday celebrations are likely to be the trickiest you’ve ever organised. Your child is smack bang in the middle of their teenage years, and even if they are ‘a good kid’, chances are you’re still not top on their list of friends. At 16 your child is definitely asserting their independence, and while they might like the idea of a party, it probably won’t be the sort of party you have in mind.

Agreeing to a party is one thing, but establishing just what type of party it is, is another. Your 16 year old will probably want to do a lot of the planning themselves, so you will need to make sure they have clear guidelines as to what you expect in terms of numbers, noise, finish time, and behaviour. Just what those rules are will depend on you and your family, but here are some things for you to consider.

Make it an Invite Only Party

Gate crashers cause trouble, and the only way to avoid it is to make your child’s party a strict invite only event. Text message, instant message or email invitations can be forwarded on to literally hundreds of people, and unwelcome guests can simply gather out the front of your house to form their own party.

Make sure the invitations are in paper form, and include your contact details so that parents can phone you for more information if necessary.

Get Contact Details

Not all 16 year olds are as angelic as your own, and if they decide to make the most of being away from home, then you will be responsible for their actions. Let your child know that you have contact details for every parent, and that if ground rules are broken, parents will be rung. If your child has friends who don’t like that idea, then chances are you don’t want them at the party anyway.

No Alcohol

Quite simply, providing alcohol to children under 18 is illegal, even in your own home. Make sure your child is aware of the rule, and clearly state the consequences before the party starts.


Chances are your 16 year old will not want you hanging around at their party, but it is important that you still provide supervision. It may be that the party is in the garage or the rumpus room while you’re in the lounge, but make it known that you can put your head in at any time.

16th Birthday Themes

If your child wants a more structured party than simply hanging out with music and mates, then you could introduce a theme to help tie the night together. Some great themes for older teenage parties include:

A Red Carpet Event

A Red Carpet Party is a good chance for teenagers to dress up and play adults. Our Celebrity Red Carpet article has some great ideas which you can adapt for this age group.

DVD Party

Movies and popcorn is still a great way to spend time with friends, and you can make this party as simple or as elaborate as you like.

Go overboard by setting up your whole house to look like a movie theatre. Make snack trays out of old cardboard boxes, and serve your guests popcorn, choc-dipped ice creams, and a box of jaffas to eat during the movie. Make your invitations in the form of ‘Admit One’ tickets, or create a red ribbon card inviting your guests to a special movie premier. For some more movie themed ideas check out the Movie Magic article in our School Holiday section.

Extreme Makeover

Extreme Makeover is a great party theme for teenage girls, and there are so many activities you can do. Hair, nails, make-up, massage, clothes shopping (or swapping), a yoga class, jewellery making, the works! This party is only limited by your imagination, and your budget.

More great birthday party ideas for 15-16 year old girls.

16th Birthday Food

The type of party your child is having will largely dictate the type of food you serve, but generally teenagers enjoy good hearty food that is easy to eat. Our Party Food section has some great ideas to get you started including Party Food for Big Groups, Pizzas, and Quick and Easy Sweet Treats.

Making 16th Birthday Memories

Turning 16 is a big deal, and like other milestone birthdays it is a great chance to create a tradition or ritual in your family. Some 16th birthday traditions you might like to start in your family are:

  • Giving the Road Code. Getting your drivers license is a big thing for 16 year olds, so receiving the road code and a cheque to pay for their drivers license is a great ritual gift.
  • The 16th Birthday Letter.Teenagers need reminding that they are good kids, and that you are proud of them. Write your child a 16th birthday letter which lets them know just what you love about them and what makes them so special to you. They may not completely appreciate it at the time, but there will come a moment where it means the world.
  • The Sex Talk AGAIN. 16 is the legal age that your child can have sex. While you will have already had the ‘sex’ talk many times before, it is a good time to remind them that the state now deems them legally responsible. Talking to your child about issues such as date rape, contraception or abstinence may not seem like birthday memories, but by doing it in a way that creates open adult conversation, you will let them know that you are there if they need you.

Happy 16th Birthday!

2.4 8 votes
Article Rating

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x