As a mom of some older kids, let me break something to you.
During the tween years, you are going to have to change your birthday party game up. No more princess parties or super hero shin-digs. (And yes, you may have to deal with some personal grief over this.)
Your tween will feel like they are no longer a little kid, but yet they will be years away from being a teenager. And you’re not going to want them to be acting like a teenager just yet.
So what’s a momma to do?
One thing that has worked for us is to have interactive parties (that don’t break the budget) right here at home. I’ve put together a list of four of our favorite tween birthday parties.
You remember the game show, right? Contestants were given a “blueprint” of a challenge and then the chance to complete said challenge in sixty seconds.
This is still a crowd-pleaser. Doing Minute-to-Win-It challenges at home is easy and fun with a group. These challenges are a great way to get all party guests involved and the supplies are common household items. Pick out (or have the guest of honor pick out) a few challenges in advance by using one of the many online resources. (Because google is our friend when planning parties.) Then grab the supplies and a way to keep time and YOU ARE READY. Epic battles are sure to ensue and laughter will be imminent. Choose someone to act as “host”, explaining the challenges, picking contestants and timing each challenge. OR let this YouTube channel do all the work, explaining the blueprint of each challenge and showing a digital timer.
Here’s our “fancy” timer and one of the girls doing the “face the cookie” challenge from our middle daughter’s Minute-to-Win-It party.
2. The Amazing Race
“It’s not how far they go…it’s what happens along the way!”
Who loves adventure? Tweens do! We took elements from this TV show and created a scavenger-hunt style party for our oldest daughter that was a definite hit.
Tips/Here’s how we did it: Split the group into two teams. Make sure each team has an adult driver. We gave each team a different color of bandana to wear, so we had an orange team and a green team. My husband was the clue giver and stayed at home. Each team started out from our home with the same clue (given to them in a yellow envelope with the amazing race logo on it, of course). The groups agreed to a no speeding rule and then headed out in their team vehicle with their driver.
The girls on each team had to decide together where the clue wanted them to go. They also had to give their driver directions to get there. The driver did not help with clue cracking or direction giving, unless absolutely necessary. Once a team arrived at the destination, they would take a group picture at the location and send the photo to my husband via text. He would then call to tell them if they were correct or not. If they were correct, he would text them the next clue. This continued until the last clue sent them back home and each team hoped to hear the magic words: “You are the first to arrive.”
Notes: I had previously created the clues with our area in mind. We live in Edmond and I used locations such as their school, the giant blue hippo on Broadway, Pops, and more.
You can personalize to your area and have a little adventure close to home.
3. So You Think You Can Dance
We have a dancer in our family, so for her tenth birthday party it was a no-brainer to throw a “So you think you can dance?” party.
The invitation was simply worded:
“So you think you can dance? Then bring your dancin’ shoes and your funky self to ——– ——-‘s 10th birthday bash!”
We actually veered from the show’s theme at this point and gave her party a hip-hop vibe. Each party guest received some “bling” when they arrived (plastic gold dollar sign necklaces and rings, plus rhinestone sunglasses). Then we used a “hip hop name generator” (again, thanks google) to give them each their hip hop name for the evening, which we called them by all night. Obviously. An old white sheet was hung against one wall in our house for “tagging” (graffiti) with fabric markers. We played some dance games on the Wii and sat back and watched as they danced the night away.
Photo from Fox Entertainment Group
4. Glow Party
This one’s easy. Everyone loves glow sticks! Buy a bunch of glow sticks, necklaces, and any other glow paraphernalia. I’ve noticed recently that they have a good variety at Walmart at their low, low prices. We bought ours in bulk from Oriental Trading Company. Then, either wait until it’s dark outside or turn out the lights inside, play some music, add a disco ball if you want to, and you’ve got an instant party.
A pool glow party is also fun as the water adds another reflective element and the pool adds more activities. Put a few glow sticks in balloons for light-up decorations. Use some glow sticks to write out your child’s name and then adhere them to a wall or fence for a personalized neon sign. Break a few glow sticks and pour the contents of the glow sticks into bubbles, shake well, and you’ve got glowing bubbles to add to the mix. (Word of advice: this takes a lot of glow stick “juice” to work, but it’s cool when it does!)
This party is sure to radiate in your tween’s memories.
Guys, the tween years are fun. Challenging, yes. But so is each phase that our sweet littles (and not so littles) go through. Amiright?
So here’s the thing: I encourage you to have some fun while celebrating your tween’s birthday, no matter how you choose to celebrate it. Your child, their friends, your family-they will remember that you laughed. That you celebrated. That you gave them a fun and safe place to hang out and that you were there, in the midst of the chaos.
Yes, even if you’re a little bit in denial. You’re gonna have to put the tiara down.