At a certain point, the themed birthday parties of grade school no longer fit the bill when you teen wants to celebrate a special day. It’s time to think outside the box. Why not help your teen throw a dinner party ?
We’ve done this with great success and you can too. Here are some basic guidelines for throwing a Teen Dinner Party.
- Have the kids “dress up” – it’s a special night (or day) and teens love to show off their style, so encourage guests to dress up.
- Decorations don’t have to be fancy. Simple white tablecloths, small flower arrangements, candles (battery operated), little holiday lights, and a pre set table all have a sense of grown-up elegance.
- Splurge on “wow” for the appetizers but keep the main course full of easy kids favorites. We filled an appetizer table in the dining room with finger foods, a tray of sushi ordered from a grocery (you could also order from a restaurant), fresh fruit arranged like a peacock, cheeses, dips, bread, marinated mozzarella. This is the first impression your guests see when they arrive and as they mix and mingle – make sure snacks are easy to handle. Of course, you can play by ear but expect about 30-45 minutes of mingling before the main course.
- The main course does not have to be fancy (or expensive). Macaroni and Cheese or pasta with marinara is a perfect main course – everyone loves it. Plus it will keep your budget in line. Add a big green salad, bread – you’re set. We set up a buffet line in the kitchen and had guests serve themselves. This is a good way to avoid a lot of waste. They are still kids with varying palates and appetites. Include your teen in all the food decisions if they are interested.
- Beverages – Easy is best. Pitchers of water and/or bottles of sparkling cider. We created a beverage area in the room they ate dinner with glasses, ice and drinks so guests could serve themselves.
- Shake it up! With a big group expected at our small house, we knew we needed an option. The dining room became the appetizer hub where all could mix and mingle before dinner. For dinner, we had cleared the living room of big pieces of furniture and set up tables for dining. If you are like us, the living room is the least used room in the house and I loved having it full of great fun and conversation. Borrow tables from friends if needed or check into a local rental company for tables and linens for rent. Chars can be an eclectic mix.
- Party games. Teens are excellent at conversation and are happy just to hang out talking. You don’t need to worry about pin the tail on the donkey or musical chairs. We made “conversation cards” – enough so that each guest would have one. After dinner, before cake, the birthday girl/hostess passed one to each guest and they took turns reading a question out loud and fielding answers. “What person from history would you most like to meet”?, “What is your earliest memory”? etc There are lots of resources online to find questions if you need help coming up with some.
- You are the catering staff! This is your teen’s party, no need for Mom and Dad to be in the mix of guests. We dressed in all black and performed the duties of catering staff – making sure tables have what they need, clearing plates, refilling the ice bucket. etc. I enjoyed throwing a fun party without having to be the “host”, just making sure details were buttoned up.
- Do what fits your style. A dinner party is a fun way for kids to feel grown-up and for you to throw a party that will stay in budget. You might also consider a lunch or brunch set up in a special way. Have fun!
- For more ideas on creating a Buffet see ” How to Plan the Perfect Buffet“.