Planning a Sweet 16 Party

You don’t have to be a professional party planner to throw a Sweet 16 celebration. Honor her special birthday, and put on a party she’ll always remember.

Respect Her Age

Remember that your 16-year-old is becoming a young woman, so avoid childish themes and decorations.

  • Formal doesn’t mean expensive — simply choose elegant decorations and entertainment. Don’t decorate with cartoon characters.
  • Throw the party in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Use color, candles, balloons and flowers to set the mood. Don’t use birthday streamers or party hats.
  • Give the guests plenty of space. Teenagers love to dance and don’t want too many adults hovering around them.

Celebrate Her Personality

When planning the party details, keep her personality in mind. The goal is to throw an event she’ll truly enjoy.

  • Cater to her style, and keep her interests in mind. If she loves rock and roll more than lace, embrace her edgy style instead of forcing frills.
  • Play the music she loves. Not sure what to choose? Try calling one of her friends to discuss a playlist.
  • Help her purchase a special dress. Make a date of it, and be sure to take pictures. Print them later as part of a keepsake gift.

Embrace Etiquette

Sweet 16 is a big milestone. Approach the etiquette as you would a wedding.

  • Send paper invitations at least three weeks before the party. Purchase formal invitations, or create your own using photos and scrapbooking items.
  • Help her stay on top of thank-you notes. Purchase them for her, and address them ahead of time using your invite list. Don’t forget stamps.
  • Use place cards or a seating chart if you’re serving a sit-down meal. If you’re hosting fewer than a dozen guests, skip the place cards.

Make Memories

After spending time and effort planning her party, you’ll want to capture all the special moments.

  • Give guests disposable cameras. They can help photograph candid moments.
  • Hire a photographer or designate an adult guest as the honorary photographer.
  • Take video using a handheld video camera. Be sure to capture candid dancing and any speeches or toasts.
  • Invite one or two of her best friends to honor her with a speech or a song. Even if the moment is silly, she’ll love the special touch.

Focus on the Details

Small details make wonderful memories. Show her you care by going the extra mile.

  • Have a cake decorated with her favorite colors. Include fresh flowers around the cake.
  • Purchase a corsage for her to wear on her dress or wrist.
  • After the party, put together a scrapbook or photo album with prints from the photos taken during the party.
  • Invite her guests to sign a large photo frame or guest book. She’ll appreciate the personal notes from her friends.
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