13 Birthday Party Ideas Your Tween or Teen Will Love

It can be hard coming up with birthday party ideas for tweens and teens. The guest list can be problem enough, but even once you've settled on the right number and the right mix of friends, coming up with teen birthday party ideas your kid will love is a whole other challenge. Tweens and teens definitely want a party that expresses their new maturity and budding individuality, after all. And parents want teenage party ideas that won't cost a fortune, require a year's worth of planning, or end in tears (although that's sometimes out of our control).

That's a tall list, but we're up to the task. Here are a dozen teen birthday party ideas, all of which will celebrate your kid's milestone and make sure all their closest friends have fun too. (Plus, we've got 30 great ideas for the best gifts for teens here.)

Birthday Party Ideas For Teens and Tweens

1. Night Games and a Bonfire

If your tween or teen is looking for a coed party, start with a barbecue and then play some familiar games. (They'll seem more mature when they're being played after the sun goes down.) Think ghost in the graveyard, kick the can, and capture the flag. You can close out the night with a bonfire if you have the space and your kids are old enough to properly practice safety. Who doesn't love roasting marshmallows and s'mores?

2. Scavenger Hunt

Bring back the scavenger hunts you organized for your kids when they were younger, but blow it out and make the boundaries bigger. Divide the guests into teams, hand out lists of clues, have the kids use their smartphones to snap the items on the list, and meet up after an hour or so. Don't limit the clues to simply finding places or historical markers; include some silly acts that teenagers secretly love to do, like singing a hit song from their early years or doing cartwheels in the park. Or move the hunt to somewhere cool, like the mall where they'll have to pose with mannequins or manage to get a picture with a wild hat on. This is great for a coed party, too. And if you want to stretch the party out some, kick things off by having each team decorate T-shirts. Just make sure to have a robust supply of fabric markers and Sharpies.

3. The Classic Sleepover

Don't knock the standby classic of a slumber party. Since the kids are all older, you likely won't have to deal with separation anxiety in any of your guests. Activities can include making pizzas, decorating cupcakes, an ice cream–sundae bar, and watching a movie. Be ready to create a memorable breakfast, like Funfetti pancakes or a waffle charcuterie board.

4. Hotel Sleepover

If you don't want to host a classic sleepover, then move the party to a hotel. Having a hotel sleepover will put you at the top of the "cool moms" list. Reserve a few connecting rooms for you and the kids, and decorate with fun balloons and streamers. Fill the room with all their favorite snacks and beverages. Then, plan out the night with pool games, scary-story hour, and movie watching.

5. Pool Party

If you have access to a pool in your own home or neighborhood, have a pool party. The activity is easy — swimming and splashing (although it requires a watchful eye for safety; even better if you have other parents on hand to chaperone). Win cool points by adding some festive floats to the mix, like a unicorn or slice of pizza. And you can always end the party with a barbecue or pizza feast.

6. Gaming Party

If you've got a gamer on your hands, embrace it and book a mobile gaming truck for their birthday party. These trucks often feature an iconic gaming theater with stadium-style tiered seating, high-def TVs, and laser and neon lighting that will make all their gaming dreams a reality.

7. Spa Party

Hello, sheet masks and pedicures! Step it up a notch and provide cucumber slices for their eyes while they lounge about. You can hand out slippers or nail polishes as party favors. Why not dedicate some time to a DIY and make a sugar scrub?

8. Take a Field Trip

Round up the kids, and go to the beach, the zoo, the ice rink, or a hiking trail or even try catching an outdoor show. Rent a van big enough to schlep everyone to the event, and make a festive playlist for the drive.

9. Dance Party

Swap your regular light bulbs for some black lights to turn your house into a club, and host a dance party. Ask for the guests to RSVP with their favorite dance tune so you can add the tracks to the party playlist. Break up the boogie-ing with cake and a game of limbo.

10. Movie Night Outside

Rather than heading to a theater, create a mini drive-in feel by setting up a cozy space to hang out, providing snacks, and picking out one or two movies to feature.

11. Slime Party

If your tween is still loving slime, celebrate their birthday with a party dedicated to this slippery substance. You can make a variety of slimes and even fête your tween with some edible slime . . . but they'll likely still want a cake of some sort.

12. Karaoke Night

Rent a karaoke machine, and let the kids go to town belting out their favorite songs. Pull out old costumes and accessories so each number can be sensational and silly. They might think they're all grown up, but playing dress-up is kind of ageless.

13. Escape Room

Make those teens work for their freedom, and take them to an escape room where they'll have to work together to solve the puzzle of the room. Worth knowing ahead of time: the guest count may need to be capped on the lower end, since many of these rooms have a maximum capacity of six to 10 people, and some require an adult to participate.