Turning 13 is a big deal, so a 13th birthday party should be a big deal too. However, making a 13th birthday special does not have to be expensive – it really is the little things that are remembered. Here’s our list of birthday party ideas for 13 year olds.
Thought of in some cultures as the age when adulthood begins, 13 is the beginning of your child’s official status as a teenager!
This is cause for celebration in itself, in the hope they will make it relatively unscathed through the next seven years…
For many children, it’s also the year when they begin high school, yet another adventure on the character-building highway of life.
So 13 really is a milestone year for a lot of kids.
This can be the birthday which some parents like to mark with a special ceremony; a type of initiation, if you will, into adulthood.
For boys, this may mean going on a ‘men only’ overnight camping trip (for example) or for girls, spending some special time away with their mother or other, significant women in their life.
Birthday party ideas for 13 year olds
Planning a 13 year old’s birthday party
At 13, your child may feel like they are too old for birthday parties, and may want to celebrate their birthday in a more ‘grown up’ way.
Remember, no matter how much YOU want the parties to continue, this is their special day and they won’t thank you for embarrassing them – even if it is with good intentions!
So when you’re planning celebrations for your child’s 13th birthday, keep them in the loop, and let their ideas be your guide.
You might find they only want to invite a few close friends around. Sometimes a 13th birthday party is just a small group of close friends staying overnight and watching movies.
They may not want a party at all, and just ask for an evening spent with close family. This might be a nice meal with extended family, or even a fine dining experience with close family.
Whatever they decide, here’s some great ideas for making the day extra special.
13th birthday party themes
You might find your ‘almost teen’ is too old for traditional themed parties, but you can still tie the party together by choosing a specific colour, a type of food, or focusing on the type of entertainment.
Your invitations, food and decorations can reflect the theme, and give the party a bigger sense of occasion.
Some great 13th birthday party themes that are a little less formal, include:
1. Movie Party
You can really go overboard with a movie party by setting up your whole house to look like a movie theatre. Make snack trays out of cardboard boxes, and serve your guests popcorn, choc-dipped ice creams, and giant frozen fruit slushies!
Your party invitations can be in the form of “Admit One’ tickets, or a red ribbon card inviting your guests to a special movie premier. For more on this idea check out our Celebrity red carpet party theme.
2. Beach Holiday Party
Hunt the many holiday rental websites like Book a Bach in New Zealand, Home Away in the US, Holiday Lettings in the UK, or Air BnB anywhere else in the world, and find something cool, beachy (or with a pool) and with plenty of room to spread out and chill.
Or, ask around, you could be surprised with just whose sister’s-cousin’s-aunt has one that they rent out, or would let you use for the weekend.
3. Pizza Party
Many teenagers love pizza, so a pizza party is an easy theme to pull off. There’s some more ideas on our Pizza Party party theme page. For 12 and 13 year olds you probably want to go for the more full-on ‘make your own’ style pizza party. Just provide the dough and a range of different toppings, and let them roll out their own bases, and make up their own creations.
A super-easy version of this idea is just to order in a bulk-lot of pizzas, and get all your teens favourite movies to watch for the night!
4. High Tea Party
Get the girls to pull out their best dresses or raid their mother’s… sister’s… friend’s wardrobes and head out for the fine experience of high tea. Some girls may never have heard of high tea, so you may need to show them how!
You can have high tea in many places now, some are a bit average, so do your research and find one in your location that goes ‘all out’ and really makes it a true experience, and one worthy of a party. A great gift idea for this birthday theme would be a personalized MasterCard Gift from GiftCards.com including a photo of your daughter dressed to the nines!
5. Hunger Games Party
Now we’re not talking about the ‘woosie laser tag type’ one you go to when you’re 10! We’re talking a full on Hunger Games-esque, forest adventure, paint ball fight to the death (ok, not quite to the death, but you know, nearly!).
Picture your teens fully decked out in camo gear, full face masks and impressive looking machine guns. They’ll even walk different when they strut off into the forest brandishing their weapons for what will be an epic showdown.
6. Music Party
At 13, music is probably a big part of your child’s life, and it’s a great theme for both boys and girls. Invitations can be written on old CD’s using a permanent marker.
One idea is to decorate your house to look like a recording studio with album covers, CD covers, posters, and fake trophies framing the walls. Organise a simple-to-use music software programme on a computer, and have your teen’s guests make their own music recording to take home on a funky USB stick.
You could go down the karaoke route. You can hire karaoke setups with microphones, screens, lights and speakers very cheaply. Or find someone with Playstation Rock Band to set up.
A third idea is to just download a bunch of music videos and hire in some great speakers, disco lights and maybe even a smoke machine, and just let them disco it out!
7. In home Cake Decorating Party
In home classes are really big right now. And what better in home demo than a cake decorating class!
There’s lots of pastry chefs offering in home classes now in most regions. The best part about this idea is that the trainers will usually come to your house decked out with everything you need. That includes the cakes, all the decorating equipment, and all the materials and ingredients too.
The only downside to this idea is that it can get a little pricey for a large group. So you either want to keep this one down to just 2-3 BFFs. Or, see if you can find a baker who will come and do a class for a fixed fee, and maybe you supply the materials. But, the upside is that you end up with a lot of delicious cake to eat!
Other ideas in this theme include craft classes (think pottery, art classes, embroidery, sewing, etc), in home cooking classes, make your own (think lip balms and bee balms, make up, personal care), make up parties, etc.
Birthday party games and activities for 13 year olds
Party Games for Teenagers is a tricky topic, as many will just want to ‘hang out’ and the idea of games seems way too babyish.
The problem with ‘hanging out’, is that it leaves plenty of room for gossiping, secrets, backstabbing and tears – and dare I say it, it’s almost a given with girls.
Activities for teenagers don’t have to be structured games with lots of rules, but you should make sure there are plenty of things to keep them occupied.
Bored teenagers cause trouble – especially in groups – so make sure you have a loose plan to keep them busy.
If you’re having a slumber party, then your guests may like the idea of having some organised games, especially if the games are suitably cool. Our Party games for Teenagers article has some great ideas that are tried, tested and approved by the fussiest teenage kids.
Birthday venues for 13th birthday party
If the idea of having a party at home seems like too much chaos, why not have your child’s birthday party elsewhere.
here are plenty of great birthday party venues throughout the country, and your child could take one or two special friends, or a whole group of mates. Favourite teenage party venues include:
- Rock Climbing
- Ten Pin Bowling
- Laser Strike
- ‘Grown Up’ Restaurant
- Horse Riding
- Art and Craft Workshop
- Gaming Parlour
- Blo Karting
- Go Karting
- A special sports event, show or concert
- Aquatic Centre or Water Park
- Theme Park
3 final tips for making 13th birthday party memories
Milestone birthdays are a great chance to introduce traditions and rituals to your family, and turning 13 is definitely a milestone!
13 marks the beginning of the teenage years, and that big transition toward adulthood, and your relationship with your child is going to change.
Here are some nice ways to make memories on your child’s 13th birthday:
1. Contact their fav celeb
By the time your child turns 13, it’s likely they’ve developed an interest in a specific sport or hobby, and chances are there’s someone ‘famous’ they look up to.
In New Zealand, we’re blessed to have celebrities who remember their roots and are happy to mentor our young people.
Arranging a meeting with your child’s hero may not be possible or practical, but organising a letter or a birthday card from them is certainly a do-able feat. New Zealand is such a small country that tracking down your child’s hero is not that hard, and the contact you make will provide a lasting memory for your child.
2. Give them a grown up experience to remember
Give your birthday child a special dinner out, or the full day-spa experience, a weekend away with you on their own, or even an overseas family trip if it’s in the budget.
Treat the birthday child to a truly ‘grown up’ experience, where you can both talk about what it means to turn 13, and what the years ahead will bring. This will surely be a birthday they remember, and a great opportunity to build a foundation for those ensuing teenage years!
3. Let them be a little more grown up
Make becoming a teenager a time when your child earns the right to do something a little more adult. Something like going to the movies on their own or having their own debit or pre-loaded visa card.
Whatever the ‘thing’ is, keep the same rule for each child in the house, and they will all have something to look forward to on their 13th birthday. Being allowed to do the ‘thing’ is a gift on its own.
Best of luck with your teenage birthday party planning, we hope you all have a great day when it arrives.