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November 17, 2021Best In Tents

How to Plan a Sweet 16 Birthday Party

Sweet sixteen is a milestone birthday. Long gone are the days when a basic cake and a small gathering of friends is an acceptable way to celebrate a sweet 16 birthday. With flashy parties splashed all over reality TV shows and on social media, your soon-to-be 16 year old may expect something that looks more like a celebrity fete than a simple backyard bash.

No one is saying that you have to rent a helicopter and fly your sweet 16 year old in for a grand entrance or host their entire high school for a five-course gourmet meal. But you might need to step up your party game and plan for more than a homemade meal and a few colorful candles. Before making any decisions, take a look at our tips for planning a sweet 16 party.

Ask Your Teen About Her Expectations

16 Birthday Party Tips

Keep in mind that this is not your party. And, unlike a six or seven year old, your soon to be 16 year old probably has a very clear vision of what she wants for her big day.

Start the party planning with a family discussion. Ask your teen what she wants for her big birthday bash. You might be surprised to find out that she doesn’t want to invite hundreds of her friends or that she doesn’t expect you to rent out an entire ballroom. But if your teen’s party is over-the-top, ridiculously out of your price range or not doable at all (no, Justin Bieber is not going to show up to serenade her), you need to help her understand the difference between fantasy and reality and how she can still have an amazing sweet 16 backyard birthday party and still stay on budget.

Ask your teen to prioritize what is most important for the party. Does she want a DJ or live music? Or is a great caterer her top priority? By creating a wish list in order of priority, it will become much easier to manage expectations for her sweet 16 outdoor birthday party.

Set The Date

Birthday Party Tips for Planning

Naturally, you want to celebrate your teen’s sweet 16 birthday on or as close as possible to her actual birthday. But when thinking about how to plan a sweet 16 birthday party, if her birthday falls on a weekday or around a major holiday, you may have to be flexible with the date. It’s always a good idea to send out “save the date” so that your guest will have the date on their calendars. You may also want to ask your guests to RSVP so you have an idea of how many people to expect.

Decide On a Budget

Sweet 16 Birthday Tips

Once you decide on a reasonable budget for the sweet 16 birthday party, use your teen’s wish list as a template to help allocate dollars. Start with party must-haves, like the food menu (including snacks and birthday cake), accessories, entertainment, decorations, venue, party favors, invitations, and thank you notes. Then see what’s leftover for wish-list items, like a DJ or live entertainment. This will further help your teen to prioritize and also teach her a good lesson in budget planning!

Keep in mind that you don’t have to choose an outside venue when planning a sweet 16 party. Your home may be the perfect party spot for a sweet 16 backyard party. If this is the case, you can use the money you’re saving on renting a space for a fabulous outdoor tent, chairs, and tables.

Book Your Vendors

Tips for Planning Birthday Party

Unless you’re planning a DIY party (which is not advisable), you’ll need to hire various vendors. Create a sweet 16 birthday party planning checklist for your vendors, which may include caterers, entertainment (DJ or band), a tent company, and/or clean-up crew.

Don’t wait until the last minute to book your vendors. These companies are often booked out months or even years in advance. Reserve your vendors sooner than later, especially if your sweet 16 party will take place during the holidays or summer graduation, or wedding season.

Send Invitations

Tips for Planning Backyard Birthday

Professional party planners recommend sending out invitations three to five weeks in advance. If you’re planning a classic sweet 16 backyard party, it’s a longstanding tradition to hand-deliver invitations, so make sure they are printed out in time for the birthday girl to hand them out.


Host an unforgettable sweet 16 birthday party for your special teen. We can’t wait to help you plan the party of her dreams! Give us a call or contact us on the website and we’ll find the right tent for you.

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