When your kid reaches their teenage years, throwing a fun and “cool” birthday party can be quite the challenge. It’s the perfect opportunity to connect with them, so avoiding anything boring, lame, or overly childish is important.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend an obscene amount of money on a suitable party. In fact, some of the best party ideas for teens can be creative, interesting, and inexpensive.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at 22 of the best cheap birthday ideas for teenagers to keep in mind. We’ll also look to answer a few of the frequently asked questions.
1. Scavenger Hunt
The first idea on our list is to organize a scavenger hunt. To do this, you’ll need to put together a list of activities that need to be completed in your local area, with photos required for proof. Divide the group into smaller teams and set a time limit for the activities.
Some of the most common activities used in a scavenger hunt include finding color-specific items, animals, mascots, and much more.
You can also perform types of service such as taking a dog for a walk, mowing someone’s lawn, or putting away shopping carts.
Once all the activities have been completed, the groups join back together and celebrate with food and prizes.
2. Game Night
Whether you’re using board games, video games, or creating your own games, organizing a game night is one of the best budget-friendly options for a good teenage party.
You can also have some music playing in the background and provide a selection of delicious snacks, so they have plenty of exciting things to keep them occupied.
3. Birthday Bake-Off
If a number of the teenagers invited to the party are interested in cooking and baking, a birthday bake-off could be an excellent idea. Make sure you’re fully stocked up on the basic “pantry” ingredients, disposable pans, mixing bowls, and spoons.
To take the bake-off to the next level, you could choose a theme and have a judging panel determine the winner.
This will provide the bake-off with a competitive edge that’ll engage even those that aren’t particularly interested in cooking. Be sure to use small pans that won’t take too long to bake.
4. Make A Slip ‘N’ Slide
This is a great cheap birthday idea for teenagers if you have a hill or slope in your back garden.
Building a DIY waterslide is relatively easy, all you need is some thick plastic sheeting from a home improvement store and garden skates to hold the plastic down and keep the hose positioned at the top.
If you want to make things even more fun, you can also add some foam or bubbles to make the epic Slip N Slide even more slippery and fast.
5. Card Sharks
This style of party is perfect for teens and is mostly based around poker and food. The only costs of this popular birthday idea are a few decks of cards, poker chips, and a range of snack food such as pizza and fries.
You can look up the rules of the card game online and write them down on a poster board for all the participants to follow.
To fund the game, you can either ask the teens to each bring $5 to “buy” the poker chips, or instead make the chips exchangeable for some candy.
6. Drive-In Movies
Find yourself a nearby drive-in cinema and you’ll have the perfect location for your teen kid to have a great birthday celebration.
Not only is it considerably cheaper than a regular movie theater, it’s also ideal for bringing your own selection of snacks and refreshments.
Just be sure to remember some bug spray as the last thing you want is to be bitten alive while enjoying the movie.
7. Go Down The Local Park
For teens that love playing sports and spending time outdoors, a good birthday idea for them might be meeting a group of friends down the local park.
This could be a soccer kickabout, a fun game of softball, or a competitive match of ultimate frisbee. The options are pretty much endless, and they’ll be guaranteed to have a great time.
8. Backyard Barbecue Party
If you have a firepit or barbecue readily available in your garden, you can purchase some hotdogs, burgers, and salad, and host an epic backyard barbecue party for your teen and their friends.
In addition to the delicious food, get some music playing, camp chairs scattered around, and a photo booth set up in the corner of the garden, and you’ll have all the components for a simple, yet incredibly fun celebration.
9. Chick Flick Pajama Party
For teenage girls, hosting a chick flick pajama party is a great way to have a fun time with your friends.
Get a selection of different popcorn flavors (sweet, salted, buttered, caramel) and put on some classic chick flicks for a relaxed, inexpensive evening that’ll celebrate your birthday in style.
10. Watch A Sports Game
If your child’s birthday is on the same day as a big sporting event, you can invite their friends around to watch the game together.
This is extremely easy to organize with the entertainment already provided, so all you need to do is supply a good amount of food and drink and they’ll be happy.
To add a little bit of extra fun, you can also create some games linked to the sports match. For example, ask all the guests beforehand to predict the minute that the first points of the match will be scored in, with the closest winning a prize.
11. Have A Spa At Home
You can pamper your teen and her friends with their very own home spa set-up. This is a brilliant birthday idea if you’re working to a tight budget, as all you need is a set of inexpensive face masks and other basic products like hand cream and fingernail polish.
To add to the overall experience, you can also play some relaxing music and provide a range of fancy appetizers and drinks for the guests.
12. Organize Some Night Games
For both teen boys and girls, an evening of night games is always good fun. Some of the most popular games to play include Fugitive and Capture The Flag.
To avoid any added costs of purchasing expensive equipment, it’s a good idea to ask all the guests to bring their own flashlights, or instead look into an inexpensive set of glow in the dark sticks.
13. Pizza Party
Pizza is a universally-adored food that most teenage kids can’t pass up. While the vast majority of teens would probably settle for plain, pepperoni, or ham pizza, you can take it up a notch and provide a range of different pizzas to tempt their taste buds.
From BBQ chicken toppings to vegetable pizzas with caramelized onion and mozzarella, there are so many varieties of fun pizza you’ll have no problem finding a suitable selection.
While this might not be quite as cheap as some of the other options on the list, it’s a sure-fire birthday idea that’ll prove to be a hit with your guests.
14. Recreate The Olympics
This is the perfect birthday idea for sport-crazy teens that love to be active and competitive. The best way to host an Olympic party is to either make the events exactly like traditional Olympic events, or do a silly version with a selection of made-up events.
If you don’t have a suitable backyard to host a party like this, you could always do it at the local park or swimming pool instead.
15. Do Some Painting
If you’re looking for an idea to get the creative juices flowing, purchasing a set of inexpensive art canvases and hosting a painting party is an excellent option.
To do this, gather a good selection of paints together, find a simple tutorial on YouTube to follow, and you’re all set. Not only will they have fun making their creation, they’ll also have their very own piece of artwork to take home afterwards.
16. Beach Party
For those who aren’t fortunate to live near a beach, creating a beach-themed party is a great way to bring the seaside to your backyard. Teens will love this kind of party with the beach tunes blaring and some beach-inspired games such as volleyball, spikeball, and limbo.
What’s more, you can also get creative and serve some beach-themed food and drink for your guests. This could be teen-friendly “mocktails” with little umbrellas, fresh fruit and ice cream, and portions of fries.
17. Murder Mystery Party
This idea will be sure to get teens hooked as they work together and spend the evening searching for clues to solve a fictitious murder.
If you really want to get into the spirit of things, you can ask the guests to dress up to reflect a particular era and give them special “murder mystery” names when they arrive.
You can also create a fake crime scene with tape, blood stains, and evidence markers, all for an incredibly low price.
18. Make-Up And Hair Party
If you know someone in the local area that’s an expert in hair and make-up, you can organize a party for your teen child and her friends where they can all enjoy a mini makeover.
This is a sociable and fun activity, especially with some nice snacks, drinks, and music in the background.
19. Spend A Night Glamping
Glamping is essentially a glamorous version of camping where you stay in a luxurious tent with comfortable furniture.
The good thing about this birthday idea is that you can make it as low-key and inexpensive as you like depending on your budget. If you want to add a party atmosphere to your glamping experience, you can also use string lights, balloons, and streamers.
20. Gaming Competition
If your teen is an avid gamer, then a fun gaming party might be the best option. Whether it’s Fortnite, Minecraft, or any other video game that has them fascinated, you can provide an excellent gaming-themed party if you stick closely to the theme and get into the spirit of things.
To really up the ante, you can also ask your teen’s friends to bring their computers to the party so they have the opportunity to all play together.
21. Host A Mexican Party
A traditional Mexican fiesta party is a popular choice for teens who love to eat authentic Mexican food. There are plenty of options to choose from, including tacos, grilled chicken, ground beef, tortillas, as well as all the extras like guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and taco chips.
In terms of drinks, a fun idea is to serve margarita “mocktails” that taste just as delicious as the alcoholic version. You can also give the party a Mexican feel with bright red, green, and white decorations.
22. Watch Some Scary Movies
The final suggestion on our list, and by certainly no means the least, is to put on a scary movie for your teen and their friends to enjoy.
While this might not be the preferred choice for many teens, it’s perfect for those who enjoy the thrill of horror movies. This type of party is even better if it falls on either Halloween or Friday the 13th.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Old Do You Have To Be To Drink Alcohol At Home In The US?
According to the law, all individuals must be 21 before they’re legally allowed to consume alcohol in the United States. Despite this ruling, there are a few exceptions for underage drinking that are worth keeping in mind.
For example, in some instances, consent from a parent or guardian is enough for minors to be able to drink alcohol.
Similarly, minors who attend culinary school and need to consume small amounts of alcohol for their education, are also allowed to engage in some underage drinking.
Are Sweet Sixteen Parties Still Popular?
These types of parties have been around since the 1970s, but have enjoyed a notable resurgence in the past decade or so. With this in mind, the vast majority of American teenagers are familiar with a sweet sixteen party, or have at least experienced some version of one.
Why Is A Girl’s Sweet Sixteen So Important?
In the US, turning 16 is a significant marker of a young girl coming of age. While they’re still not legally an adult, they can assume a host of different responsibilities such as learning to drive and getting a full-time job. For many people, the 16th birthday is seen as a celebration of womanhood.
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