Sweet 16 party ideas & venues

Updated February 21, 2017

Celebrate a sweet 16 birthday party in style. This is the time that teens become young adults, so show them how special they are and how much you care by making this day an event to remember. Of course, the best advice is to find out exactly what your child would like. This is his day, and he may surprise you. But, here are some ideas to get you both started thinking about the party.


All birthday parties, at the very least, require a cake. For something as special as a sweet 16 birthday, consider having a more elaborate, tiered cake. Like a wedding cake, add a decorative topper, such as a young lady statuette piece or a spray of flowers. Most caterers can work real flowers into cake designs, as many flowers are also edible. Look for a topper that identifies with your child's interests. Besides the cake, because this is a special party, plan for more than party snacks to feed your guests. Choose between a buffet or plated dinner. If you choose a plated dinner, you can serve all guests the same meal, or have alternate meal choices that guests submit with their RSVP. Insist that guests RSVP so that you can make all the necessary catering arrangements.


Because a sweet 16 birthday party may be larger than typical birthday parties, rent a banquet hall or other speciality place. In looking for halls, research on "Quinceanera halls" because Quinceanera celebrations are the Hispanic equivalent to a sweet 16 party. There, you'll find places that specialise in making a special party celebration for your child's birthday. Another venue is to check with the local hotels because they have meeting halls and ballrooms to rent. In addition, the hotel can cater the meal for you. You'll still want your cake from a bakery. Of course, depending on your child's interests, a completely different venue might be more appropriate, like an amusement park, the zoo or other local attraction. Your area might have an old steam passenger train. Consider booking the train for a party on-board.

Once you have the location, fill the place with what it'll need. Again, the site will provide you with tables, tablecloths and chairs. Set up a special table for gifts. Arrange the room so that there is a dance floor. Decide if your budget can allow for a live band. If not, arrange for a DJ to play music.


Design the entire evening around a theme. You can make your daughter's party reminiscent of old-world cotillions. Certainly, whatever the plan, a sweet 16 party is typically attended in dressier clothing than most birthday parties. If your party is black tie, be sure to note that on the invitations. The dress code sets the tone.

While at the party, guests may enjoy a few activities. One activity is to have a dance game, similar to the competitions from the old show "American Bandstand." Contestants pair up and dance. Judges move among the dancers. If they tap the dancers, they're out of the contest. The last three couples standing can then do a dance off where each couple dances, and the judges score them.

Another activity can involve your daughter's closest friends. While your daughter is the princess of the party, she can have her friends recognised as her "royal hand maiden attendants." Award each of these ladies a bouquet of flowers and a small tiara. Your daughter wears the big tiara. Make this a grand presentation with your daughter centre stage, seated on her throne while her attendants come to stand on either side of her.

Your son might like having his friends recognised, too. Bring them all up on stage and pin a carnation to their jacket lapels, recognising them as "princes of the court" to your son's kingship.

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