Birthday Ideas for Older Children

If your tween is celebrating a birthday, these ideas will get the party started

Happy young woman cutting birthday cake for children at party.
Be sure your tween plays a role in planning the party. Hero Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Are you planning a birthday party for your preteen? Planning a birthday party for older children can be as much fun as planning a party for toddlers or preschoolers. It just requires a little more thought and a few adjustments After all, preteens are a bit harder to impress than the little ones, and they're looking for activities that are a tad more grown up.

If you're headed towards your preteen's birthday, don't fret. Consider these preteen birthday party ideas to get you started on your party planning and a preteen-pleasing event.

Preteen Birthday Party Ideas

Pick a Fun Craft

Even though they are older, tweens still love crafts and the art of making things. There are so many cute crafts the children can do. Consider having them make autograph ​pillows, so that each child will have a remembrance of the party. And they are fun for both girls and boys to make.

Find a Location for Your Preteen's Party

When you consider all of the preteen birthday party ideas available to you, you'll know that you don't have to throw the party at home. If cleaning the house, preparing the food, and then cleaning up after the party doesn't appeal to you, consider having the party at another location such as an ice rink, a bowling alley, a local park, a movie theatre, the local mall, or even at an area museum. Many of these locations provide the party activities, as well as the invitations and sometimes, even the food. You may have to bring the cake, but with all the time you're saving yourself, that shouldn't be a problem. Discuss location ideas with your tween before making a commitment.

Consider a Sleepover Party

If your child want to keep the party close to home, a sleepover party is probably going to be as easy to plan as any other. And for preteens, sleepovers are truly a right of passage. Your preteen might want to invite everyone she knows, but it's probably best to limit the number of guests in order to keep the party running smoothly. Be sure you offer plenty of activities to keep your guests busy and make sure one or two of them are quiet activities, such as watching a movie, telling ghost stories with the lights dimmed, or making a craft.

Check-in with the preteens periodically, but give them some time alone to bond and do what preteens do best -- hang out with their friends. 

Will it be a Co-Ed Party?

Your older child might be ready for a co-ed party, or not. If your child wants to invite members of the opposite sex, be sure you set clear boundaries on what is and is not allowed. Will the tweens be allowed in your child's bedroom? If your child is having a night party, at what time will the guests leave? Also, be sure any games or activities your child plans will appeal to both girls and boys.

Pick a Birthday Theme

Your child's party doesn't have to have a theme, but if your tween has a particular passion or hobby, it could be fun to incorporate it into her party. Possible theme ideas for a preteen birthday party include:

Party Ideas: Themes for Girls

  • Luau Party
  • A Surprise Party
  • American Idol Party
  • Beading Party
  • Spa Party
  • Fashion Fun Party
  • Soc-Hop Party
  • Webkinz Party
  • Pool Party
  • Arts and Crafts Party

Party Ideas: Themes for Boys

  • Glow in the Dark Party
  • Sports-themed Party
  • Martial Arts Party
  • Beach Fun Party
  • Surfer Party
  • Olympics Party
  • Skateboard Party
  • NASCAR Party
  • Outdoor or Camping Party

Don't Forget the Goody Bags

Any listing of birthday party ideas should always include the mention of goody bags. You don't have to call them goody bags, but preteens still expect them and why not? Goody bags are fun to buy for, fun to hand out, and fun to receive. Set a budget for the bags with your tween, and then shop together for the loot. You can coordinate items with the theme of your party, or collect a mix of items you think the tweens will enjoy. Be sure your child passes the bags out to his or her friends, and thanks them for coming to his or her party. That's your child's responsibility as the party host. Or, have the children make their own goody bags by setting up a buffet of goodies, small toys, and treats.