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Ten Ways to Make Your Sweet Sixteen The Best

My sister had her sweet sixteen last night and it was a resounding success. She was so happy with the party, and so were her friends. As one of the party planners, I can attest that this triumph was no accident. Planning a sweet sixteen can be overwhelming and requires a lot of work. To make sure my sister loved her sweet sixteen, my mom and I planned the party with her and her friend group (her 100 closest friends...) in mind.


1. Find a good venue. Seemingly obvious, it can be hard to find a venue that fits all your requirements. We wanted a venue that would provide a DJ, in-house catering, lounge furniture, decorations and a photo booth. We were going for a space that had a NYC club vibe. We ultimately chose GLOW party venue in Waldwick, NJ, and were really happy with them (https://www.glowpartyvenue.com)


2. Don’t have a formal sit down dinner portion. Instead, set up food teenagers like (sliders, chicken fingers, pizza bagels) buffet-style and have several tables nearby. Allow them to grab food and choose their own seating (think classy cafeteria). Once the food was unveiled, the guests made a dash for the food, served themselves, ate and then ran back to the dance floor.


3. Make sure the venue has a “club vibe.” The space should have some seating (couches, stools clustered around tall tables, etc) scattered around the perimeter of the dance floor. That way, people not dancing are still near the dancing area socializing.


4. Find a good playlist. Just because kids like certain songs does not mean they will dance to those songs. At the beginning of the party, I was not loving the music selections (even though the songs were good, they were not good for dancing). My friend and I scoured Spotify and found a playlist called “Frat Jams” and showed it to the DJ. Immediately, the new songs had everyone dancing.


5. Have a professional photographer. The photographer floated around the party snapping group shots and candids. The kids were less focused on posing and taking pictures since they knew the photographer was getting them.


6. Have a photo booth with props. A photo booth is pretty easy to set up and the props our guests liked are easy to acquire (big sunglasses, funny hats, little signs). The guests LOVED this and flocked to the photo booth to get silly group pictures.


7. Have one or two games to the side of the dance floor. There are always going to be some boys who don’t want to dance at a sweet sixteen; that is totally normal. To get them more involved in the party, it is a good idea to have a few tabletop games (air hockey and basketball toss).


8. Skip the cake. Instead of a traditional cake, we chose to have several desserts to choose from (buffet style). We had a soft pretzels cart with various dipping sauces, a s’mores making station, a chocolate fountain with tons of dipping options, bowls of ice cream, brownies and cookies. Guests circulated around and grabbed dessert options as they liked (the chocolate fountain was a major hit). This set up was more fun than a cake, and the kids enjoyed selecting their desserts.


9. Have a cute party favor. As the guests left the party, they were each given a portable charger with “Alana’s Sweet” written on it. The chargers were relatively inexpensive to buy in bulk (there are several vendors online who sell personalized favors for parties), and everyone could use a portable charger. In addition, we had a huge display of candy by the door. As they left, each guest grabbed a bag and filled it with candy to go. Everyone loved the gift and the candy; for any psychology majors out there), happy endings leaves enduring happy memories of the whole event.


10. Socks. Socks! I cannot emphasize this enough. When girls arrive at fancy events, they are wearing heels. However, no one’s tolerance for heels is incredibly high, especially at sixteen years old. We bought a hundred neon ankle socks on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Differenttouch-Pairs-Women-Colorful-Design/dp/B00UB9CA1M/ref=pd_aw_sim_193_2/138-6884315-1729135?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B00UB9CA1M&pd_rd_r=4951ef04-b6e6-46a7-ad84-9a99d20a0826&pd_rd_w=Y5Uq5&pd_rd_wg=2OedE&pf_rd_p=dfdb1da3-5e85-40b8-aca6-1f16b6aad03b&pf_rd_r=C2QRV2PV6MGBMJ15RY36&refRID=C2QRV2PV6MGBMJ15RY36) and put them in a basket near the dance floor. All the girls made a beeline to swap their heels for a pair of socks and were thrilled about the sock basket!



Don’t be afraid to exclude certain traditions or include nontraditional things. For example, my sister didn’t want a cake or a candle lighting ceremony even though most sweet sixteens have them. Any party should be focused on the guest of honor and what features will make them excited and happy about the party.




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