How to plan an 18th birthday party

Updated November 21, 2016

Planning an 18th birthday celebration involves careful consideration of the theme, activities and intent of the party. Customise your plans according to the number of guests attending the party and the preferences of the birthday boy or girl. You can lavish your 18-year-old son with a huge birthday bash featuring sports-themed games and gifts, or create a simple spa party for your daughter and a few of her girlfriends.

Decide how big the party should be and brainstorm a guest list. A big party involves more preparation and possibly a few helpers. Designate tasks accordingly, or do the work yourself if the party is small. Have the guest of honour help you compile a list. Alternatively, if your party is a surprise, enlist the help of the teen's best friend or sibling.

Ask a few adults to help supervise the party. Enlist additional chaperones if the party includes more than twenty guests. Make sure chaperones watch the teens and do not allow them to be alone in any rooms of the house without supervision. All the guests should be accounted for at all times, especially the birthday boy or girl.

Buy decorations that match the colours and theme for the party. Simple pink and purple balloons work well for a spa-themed party. This type of party is a relaxing celebration in which guests are treated to spa products and activities. A spa-themed party works well for a teen who likes to get pampered. Hire two or more massage therapists or manicurists. The girls will enjoy simply talking and spending time together while getting pampered. Fill up goody bags with lotions, soaps, bubble bath, shampoo and other spa products such as a pedicure kit. Place fresh roses and rose petals on the gift table. Provide finger foods and chocolate covered strawberries toward the end of the party.

More elaborate decorations are needed for a sports-themed party. Choose balloons in the colours of your teen's favourite sports team -- such as yellow and green or red and blue. Ask the guest attending to dress up in their sports uniform or in a sports costume. Look for balloons in the shape of footballs, soccer balls or another sport or sports that you are featuring at the party.

A teenage boy might also like a simple party with his friends at his favourite pizza restaurant.

A dance-themed party works well for any outgoing teen who loves to dance. You may ask guests to dress for a specific decade (the 1950s, 1960s or 1980s), and you can feature corresponding music. Alternatively, keep the party generic and ask guests to bring their favourite music. You should also provide music: have the guest of honour guide your choices. For a dance party you can buy a disco ball at a party store and, more important, move all furniture in your largest room up against the wall so that teens have plenty of room to move around. Alternatively, you can hire a disc jockey to provide musical entertainment.

Choose a party theme that fits the teen's personality. A simple gathering with cake and ice cream and family members and a few friends might work just as well for a teen who is reserved.

Create a notice board featuring 18 years of pictures of the birthday girl or boy. Only select the best photos of the teen at each stage of life. Include pictures from her soccer championship, for example, and other photos that highlight her accomplishments. A photo memory book is appropriate only for outgoing teens who are somewhat sentimental.

Create a scrapbook that highlights milestones of teen years. Include movie tickets, pressed flowers, school papers, awards and other mementos. Leave two blank pages at the front of the book to compile a guest list during the party. Decorate the borders of the pages, and have guests sign their names and give the birthday girl or boy some words of advice about college, life and the joys of turning 18. This gift works well for a teen who likes scrapbooks and pictures, but will not work for a shy teen who prefers to keep a low profile.

Choose gifts that are appropriate for the teen. A teen who loves sports may enjoy a signed baseball from his favourite team member. Sports jerseys, equipment or other types of memorabilia can also be given as gifts. Some teens may prefer iPods or MP3 players, an electronic book reader or video games and gaming equipment. In addition to electronic gifts, teen girls will also enjoy clothing, make-up, jewellery, purses and shoes. Artistic teens may like a fancy journal or sketchbook or tickets to the symphony.

Things You'll Need

  • Guest list
  • Chaperones
  • Party decorations
  • Professionals to administer spa treatments
  • Finger food
  • Music and stereo system
  • Disc jockey
  • Birthday cake
  • Notice board
  • Scrapbook
  • Photographs of guest of honour
  • Birthday gifts
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