The older kids grow, the more their parties turn into occasions where they wish to hang out together. Luckily they don’t entirely lose their spirit of fun just because they are a couple of years older. There are plenty of ways to create outdoor group fun for your growing teen. Teens have finally reached the age when the dark is more fun than scary, and hanging around outside at night offers new ways you can entertain the group. So why not turn your patio fire pit into the central focus for your next teenage party? This party will work for a bonfire birthday celebration, a team gathering, a post-drama club meet up, or any other time that teens want to hang out.
General Tips and Necessities
You will need a patio with a central fire pit that can become the hub of your party’s activities. You’ll need enough chairs for your guests so they can sit, chat and relax at the event. It's always a good idea to keep fire extinguisher as an extra safety measure.
Keep an eye out for safe behavior around the fire. You don't want to make your teen feel suffocated so make sure you give them space to make their own decisions and enjoy the party. Teens may act mature enough at times that you feel safe leaving them unattended but keep in mind when you were a teen.
Ideally, you’ll have a long marshmallow roasting fork for each guest. If you can’t find these forks or would like to use something more economical, you can use wooden dowels. They should be cut into two-foot lengths and soaked in water for at least an hour before the party to prevent their catching fire.
It wouldn’t be a teen party without music, therefore, involve your teen in creating a music playlist for the party. The list will include his or her favorite songs and popular music enjoyed by his or her friends. Connect your teen’s iPad to an outside or portable music sound system to play the music throughout the party.
Give each guest a small flashlight or glow jewelry such as bracelets, rings, or necklaces. Not only will this add to the fun of the party, but it will also help you to keep track of them as they wander around your yard.
Roasting hot dogs, marshmallows and creating s’mores will be part of the fun around the bonfire.
Glow Stick Capture the Flag
Divide the kids into two groups and give each group a glow stick. Next, divide your yard into two halves. Then in place of a flag, each team should hide their glow stick on their side of the yard so that only half of it is showing. Let them follow the remaining rules of the traditional game.
Team Scare Competition
Once again, divide the teens into two groups. Give each player five poker chips or other markers. Tell them to scatter and hide. When you give the signal, they will sneak around as a team or individuals to scare players of the other team. Each time someone is startled, they need to hand over one of their chips. After a pre-determined time, count up the chips on each team, and the one with the most chips wins.
Invite the kids to sit around the bonfire and share scary stories with one another. Be prepared with short paranormal stories to read to them in case they don’t know any of their own.
Story Telling in the Round
Sit the teens in a circle around the bonfire. Invite one person to begin a spooky story, and as they go around the circle, each person adds to the tale, finishing up with the final person in the group.
There won’t be any need to tell them what to do for this activity. You’ll find as favorite songs are played they’ll all join in to sing along.
Menu and Food Planning Tips
It’s a casual, outdoor party, so you’re going to serve food that fits the theme. Plan a menu that might be typically found when camping or at a barbecue. If you invest in roasting forks for this party, your party guests might even roast their hot dogs for fun!
As with any food planning recommendations, you should use your judgment and adjust according to your understanding of your guest list. For example, if you’re inviting the high school football team, you’ll probably want to increase the recommended food amount significantly. On the other hand, young, non-athletic teens will require less food. In that case, still, purchase the amount suggested, and only cook what you need after taking a brief poll of your guests before you start to grill. The remaining uncooked meat can be frozen and used in the future if it’s not left out by the grill for hours.
- Hot Dogs - Plan on one hot dog per guest. Some kids may choose no hot dog, others may have more than one, but one each should be enough.
- Hamburgers - Once again, purchase one hamburger per guest, although some guests will opt out of burgers, and a few may have more than one.
- Veggie Hot Dogs and Burgers - Not surprisingly, vegetarians are becoming more common. Ask your child whether he or she is aware of any friends that are vegetarian and if so, make sure you have vegetarian options. Even if your child doesn’t know, it would be a good idea to have these options, just in case.
- A tray of Cut Up Vegetables and Dip - Although your guests will start out choosing the grilled dogs and burgers, they will eventually come around to wanting something else. You can either buy a prepared tray of cut-up vegetables or make your own, including broccoli, baby carrots, sliced peppers, cherry tomatoes, and celery. You can use whatever doesn’t get finished as part of a stir-fry for your family later in the week.
- Chips, Pretzels, Popcorn - The best part of serving these favorite party snacks outside is that there won’t be any crumbs to sweep up after the party.
- Condiments - Don’t forget the ever important condiments, including ketchup and mustard. Toss in some of these slightly less popular toppings, including sliced tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, relish.
- S’Mores - S’mores can be pretty fillings, especially after the other food. Therefore, if you plan for two s’mores per guest, you should have enough. For each one, you will need a large marshmallow, 1 full graham cracker sheet, and 1/2 full-size chocolate bar. Break the chocolate bars and graham cracker sheets in advance so the kids won’t have to do that as they’re preparing their s’mores.
- More Marshmallows - Even though the kids may become pretty filled up from this menu, it’s still fun to hang around the bonfire and toast extra marshmallows.
- Beverages - Soft drinks, water, and lemonade are always popular with teens.
- Hot Chocolate - As the night wears on and becomes chilly, some of your guests will welcome a cup of hot chocolate. Purchase pre-portioned packs of a hot chocolate mix, one per guest, and fill a carafe with hot water for easy preparation of single serve hot chocolate.