Ideas for a Sweet 16 Birthday

Updated February 21, 2017

Sweet 16 parties are birthday celebrations that are held for young women on their 16th birthdays. Sweet 16 birthday parties are particularly popular in nations such as the United States and Canada. They are rite-of-passage, coming-of-age events that signify a girl's transformation into a young woman. There are various different fun ideas and themes for throwing sweet 16 bashes.

Tropical Luau

One fun theme for sweet 16 parties is to recreate a Hawaiian tropical luau. This can be accomplished by playing relaxing island music over a stereo system, and by some traditionally island-style fixtures, accessories and touches, such as inflatable palm trees, tropical lighting, colourful leis, grass skirts, Hawaiian shirts, bamboo tiki torches, luau lanterns, citronella candles, wind chimes, sand, shells and fragrant hibiscus flowers. Guests can be greeted at the door with plastic leis to put around their necks. These types of parties are especially successful when they are held outdoors in the yard. Tropical-style foods are ideal for the party's menu, with options such as chicken long rice, Hawaiian poi, sweet and sour meatballs, teriyaki, sweet potatoes, Hawaiian chicken with pineapple and ham, and desserts like coconut cake.


The cute, youthful and girlish theme of "candy" is another popular sweet 16 concept, à la "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." The candy-land atmosphere is a fun theme to organise. Some elements that are helpful for candy-themed sweet 16 parties include cutouts of candy hearts (dangling from the ceiling), large Hershey's kiss balloons, bright candy cane arches and gingerbread house cutouts. Large pieces of candy should also be used (candy that is two feet in length is regularly available at speciality candy shops). Other fun touches include personalised chocolate bar wrappers as seating cards for guests, mini candies as confetti and a giant gingerbread castle cutout. One fun activity for these parties involves pinatas. All of the guests can take turns hitting the pinata blindfolded until it bursts open and all of the candy pops out.


Fiesta-themed sweet 16 parties are another popular option. Fiesta is the Spanish term for "party." Therefore, these parties often entail Latin American concepts and symbols of Hispanic culture. Some decorative elements that could be used include chilli pepper lights, inflatable cacti, desert flowers, maracas and lantern garlands. Guests can dress up in sombreros and in festive fiesta beads (blinking beads are also available for added enjoyment). Pinatas are vibrant papier-mache decorations that originated in Mexico, and are ideal for sweet 16 parties. Some good ideas for a Latin American-inspired menu include chicken and beef fajitas, burritos, enchiladas, chilli con queso, tacos, tamales, salsa, tortilla soup, flautas, rice and beans, and classic sweet dessert dishes such as flan from Spain and three-milk cake. A soundtrack of upbeat, lively Spanish music could also add ambience to the celebration.

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