As my tween daughter’s birthday was approaching, I asked her if she wanted to have a party with some friends. “I guess,” she answered in her typical non-committal way. She thought she could have a killer party by just inviting friends, ordering pizza and plugging her phone into a speaker. I knew they would spend much of the party concentrating on their phones instead of each other.
Instead, I offered her a few tween party ideas that I hoped would serve as the “warm up band” and get her friends moving, laughing and making memories at the killer party my daughter envisioned. Here are the six ideas that we came up with.
Turn your basement into a Night Club or Sports Bar (minus the alcohol, of course). Tweens love to Karaoke via your Wii, PlayStation or Xbox and dance games like Just Dance gets the party going fast. Consider asking your guests to wear neon or white and set the room in black light. Games like darts, pool, foosball or air hockey are usually found in the basement of a family with tweens. You can also bring in cornhole boards and bean bags for a friendly, competitive game. Instead of pizza, try serving nachos, cheese sticks and chicken wings.
My kids know all the 80’s songs from Bon Jovi to ZZ Top because they grew up listening to them. At an 80’s themed party guests can dress up as their parents did back in the day. Offer a variety of 80’s games for the kids to play including Simon, Uno, Rubik’s Cube and Atari Flashback (available on Amazon). Keep the party going with “Who Wants to be an 80’s Star” which is a spinoff of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”. Create 80’s trivia questions with a life line to parents or poll the audience. Serve popular 80’s foods like pizza rolls, Jell-O pudding pops and sloppy joes.
Not only is a Murder Mystery Party a theme within a theme, it is also a fun way for kids to to release their inner actor. Some themes include the Wild West, a night at the theatre, glamorous millionaires, medieval times, prom or even the holidays. You can find games to download online which will include character descriptions, a storyline and directions. Inform your guests ahead of time so they can dress for their role or offer costumes when they arrive. Your meal should revolve around your murder mystery setting.
An Amazing Race party requires the guests to break up into teams, read and decipher clues and perform challenges in the shortest amount of time. The game can easily be set up in your neighborhood. Set challenges at the park, a neighbor’s backyard or a local business. Game plans to print can be found on Etsy. Incorporate food in your challenges so everyone is fed, but offer appetizers and desserts before and after the race. Challenge food games may include making a Froot Loop necklace with a certain pattern of colors and then eating it before moving on to the next challenge.
This is a fun party for all ages and a simple set-up for the party planning challenged. The guests are given one minute to do a variety of simple challenges, like picking up four dry penne pastas with a dry spaghetti noodle. Players can be individual or broken into teams of two or more. Have everyone do the same challenge and keep record of everyone’s times. For game ideas, check out NBC’s Minute to Win It website and head to the dollar store for supplies. Food ideas include quick and easy make-it-yourself bars like tacos, pasta or baked potatoes.
If you can’t beat them, join them. This is as close to it comes to just hanging out. Set up a photo booth with props for fun party posts. Play “Find a Post” where players receive points for having posted a certain item on social media – a team logo, their pet, a take-out coffee cup. You can also play, “Best of…” where all players take a preplanned photo and post it. The person with the most likes in one minute is the winner. Serve food that only requires one hand to eat so the tweens can continue to eat and hold their phones. Try foods you can stick with a toothpick like cheese cubes, cocktail meatballs or cut up fruits and veggies.
Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three teenagers. She is the author of a party game series on Amazon and creator of Pam’s Party Printables on Etsy.
• Photo Scavenger Hunt: Players find pictures of items that spell out the name of the birthday kid. Example, C=cookie, S=Starbucks logo
•Local Apples to Apples: Add cards to your Apples to Apples game to include local information like teachers’ names, favorite stores or restaurants.
• Friendly Feud: This is a spin off on the game show, Family Feud. Split group into teams and ask questions to get points for your team. Create your own questions or find online.
• Name that Food: Select foods to be served in a blind taste test. Alter the smell of the food by having the tasters wear fruit roll up mustaches.
• Carnival Games: These are easy to set up and fun to play. Balloon darts, ping pong balls in fish bowls, three-legged race or knock down the cups with a ball.
• Truth or Task: The players are given a question that they must answer truthfully, if they don’t answer, they must perform a task like say the ABCs backwards or sing “Let It Go” from Frozen.