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Planning Your Teen's Sweet Sixteen

Long gone are the days when a two-tiered cake and inviting a few friends for dinner were acceptable ways to celebrate a Sweet 16. Today's teens expect much, much more. With flashy parties splashed all over reality shows, 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 need to rent a helicopter and fly your sweet 16-year-old in for a grand entrance or that you need to invite the entire high school and serve them all a five-course gourmet meal. But, you might need to step up your party game and throw an event that includes more than a homemade meal and a few colorful candles.
Before making any major decision, take a look at a few simple steps that can help you to plan the perfect party.
Talk to Your Teen
This isn't your party. Yes, you're making all the arrangements, many of the decisions and paying for it. But, it's a party for your child. Unlike a 6- or 7-year-old, a 16-year-old has a much clearer vision of what they want.
Start the party planning with a family discussion. Ask your teen what she wants when it comes to her birthday bash. You might be surprised to find out that she doesn't want hundreds of friends there or that she doesn't really need you to rent out a ballroom. But, if your teen's perfect party is over-the-top, ridiculously out of your price range or not doable at all (no, you can't get Justin Bieber to show up and serenade her), you need to help her understand the difference between the fantasy and the reality of what can happen.
Ask your child to tell you what is most important to her. This might be the guest list, where the party happens or the menu. If she's not sure, give her a few categories (such as food choice, décor or entertainment) and have her write down what she wants. After this, it's time to come to an agreement—and some sort of middle ground. This process will take discussion and negotiation on your part.
Part of your discussion should focus on a party theme. Even though your teen should have her fair share of input, you have the authority to veto anything that is too adult or inappropriate.
Create a Budget
Do you have a specific dollar figure in mind? Instead of coming up with one overall amount, break down your budget into more manageable areas. These should include menu/food (including snacks and the birthday cake), entertainment, decorations, venue, party favors and invitations/thank you notes.
Keep in mind, you don't have to pick an outside venue for the party. Your home might be the perfect party spot. If this is the case, add in a budget for anything you need to add or bring in, such as an outdoor tent rental, chairs and tables.
Pick a Date
Obviously, you want to schedule the party as close to your child's actual birthday as possible. But, you can't pick a weekday, a holiday or another day when many of the guests are likely to be busy.
For example, let’s say the big homecoming dance is on the second Saturday of October and your child's birthday is the day before. Instead of picking the Homecoming dance date, wait a week and have it when her classmates will actually be able to come.
Contact Vendors
Unless you're DIY-ing the entire event yourself (which isn't advisable), you need to hire various vendors. These include caterers, entertainment providers (such as a band or a DJ), a tent rental company and possibly a clean-up crew.
Don't wait until the last minute to talk to potential vendors. These companies may book parties months or even a year (or more) in advance. The sooner the better, especially if the party is during the holidays or in the summer during wedding season.
Are you throwing an upscale backyard bash for your child's Sweet 16? Then, you need a tent, chairs and tables, linens and other party items. Call B&T Rents for more information.