Halfway through high school and legally allowed to drive -- turning 16 is a sweet experience for teens as they get their first taste of adulthood. A well-organised sweet 16 party celebrates the guest-of-honor's individuality, gives the teen some freedom to cut loose with their friends and allows for a private moment for parents to acknowledge and reward the developing maturity of their child. Use the party planning as an excuse to spend time with your sweet teen in an effort to develop a bond of growing trust and respect.
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Things you need
- Coming-of-age gift
- Birthday cake
Visit potential venue options and party stores with your teen to gather ideas for a possible theme and location. Stop for coffee or lunch to brainstorm ideas together and to finalise the arrangements. Be sure to discuss number of guests, food and entertainment options.
Go shopping together to select an outfit for your teen to wear to the party. Use the opportunity to renegotiate clothing rules, such as hemline length, heel height, frayed or torn clothing and hair cuts or styles. Acknowledge that your teen is old enough to start making some decisions regarding expression of her self-identity through fashion -- as long as they adhere to the new guidelines.
Decide together on an option for the teen's grand entrance to the party. Select an option that fits the party theme, such as emerging from a limo onto a red carpet lined with faux paparazzi for a Hollywood party, or a horse-drawn carriage for a Cinderella-themed event. Use the opportunity to insert some lessons on financial planning into the discussion, as you decide together if grand entrance expenses are worth limiting expenditures on other facets of the party.
Purchase a coming-of-age gift to give to your teen before the party as an acknowledgement of their individuality and maturity. Select a significant gift that represents the transition from child to adult, such as a voucher for specific funds to redecorate her bedroom, a gift token to her favourite clothing store to purchase a more mature wardrobe or funds toward the purchase of a car.
Give the coming-of-age gift to the teen in a private moment prior to their grand entrance into the main event. This gives you an opportunity to explain its significance and express your sentiments regarding their growing up. Present the gift prior to the party so that you can have a special moment together on the event day before she gets wrapped up in friends and excitement. This also gives her the opportunity to talk about the gift with her friends at the event.
Quiet the crowd prior to the grand entrance to ensure that all eyes are on your teenager for her big moment. Take the opportunity to say a few words about your teen as a proud parent and to thank the guests for coming. Be sure to run what you intend to say by your teen to avoid embarrassing her right before her entrance.
Step aside to let the spotlight fall on your teen during her grand entrance. Encourage, but do not force her to say a few words to thank her guests for coming and to kick off the event. Get the entertainment started immediately following the grand entrance to capitalise on the energy of the spectacle, which will prevent the tempo of the party from becoming stagnant.
Dim the lights and bring in a candlelit cake and sing "Happy Birthday" approximately an hour into the event. As the party winds down, gather all gifts to open at an after-party at home with a few of your teen's closest friends.
Tips and warnings
- Avoid making a show out of presenting the main gift to the guest-of-honour in the middle of the event as this puts the spotlight on you and the grandeur of the gift rather than on your teen. A mid-party gift presentation can also ruin the tempo of the event if your teen is unhappy or embarrassed by the gift.
- For sweet 16 parties that include a sit-down dinner, signal servers to begin service immediately after the grand entrance, then have the cake served 25-30 minutes after the final guest has received his food.
- Wait only 10 to 15 minutes after cutting the cake to begin the evening's entertainment to keep the party energy from waning before the festivities have a chance to begin.
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