Really Fun Birthday Ideas for 12 Year Olds

When helping a 12-year-old plan out a birthday party, consider the balance your child is trying to achieve between having fun and not being too childish. At this age, kids straddle the line between childhood silliness and teen cool, so try to arrange a birthday party that will allow for plenty of peer interaction and teamwork. From the theme to the party games, a well-planned birthday party can make your 12-year-old feel like the center of attention in the most positive way.

Backwards Party

The key to this party theme is that everything is backwards. Send out invitations that can only be read in the mirror and instruct guests to wear their shirts backwards when they arrive. For décor, hang balloons from the ceiling by string and hang streamers down low instead of up high. Clear a path so all guests enter by the back door, and open presents first instead of last. Play backwards limbo (keep raising the stick instead of lowering it), pin the donkey on the tail and backwards dance party, where kids dance to silence and freeze to music. Even the cake can sport backwards lettering; allow guests to eat under the table.


Transport 12-year-old birthday guests to Paris for the afternoon with a French-themed party. Best for girls, you can incorporate everything fine and fancy from the country. Use French wording in the invitations addressed to each mademoiselle. Decorate the party area using the French flag, pictures of the Eiffel Tower and postcards of famous French landmarks. Welcome each guest with their own passport and a cute beret. Serve classic French cuisine such as baguettes and brie, and croissant sandwiches, and teach the girls some French phrases while dining. Play traditional games with a French twist, such as pin the flag on the Eiffel Tower. Girls will also love a french braid and manicure station. Party favors could be their own stuffed French poodle.

Drive-In Movie

Set up a drive-in theater in the backyard with an LCD movie projector that will play movies on a large screen, blank wall or sheet. Send out invitations with an old-fashioned movie look and include several tickets inside. When guests arrive, escort them to the movie zone to set up lawn chairs or spread blankets out on the grass. Open a snack bar with hot dogs, candy, popcorn and drinks that guests can "buy" with their tickets. Schedule two intermissions—one for cake and ice cream and the other to open presents. If guests are staying for a slumber party, hold a double feature. As party favors, send home gift bags of theater candy and bagged popcorn.

Super Spy

Let your 12-year-old boy's pals in on a secret mystery. Invitations will inform guests that they've been selected for a top-secret mission—to recover a stolen rocket. Hold this birthday party at a park or in a large backyard for best results. As guests complete each activity—a scavenger hunt, a relay race, opening presents—they get a piece of a puzzle. When the puzzle is put together, guests can read the message on the back that informs them of where the rockets are. The clue leads to water rocket toys—one for each boy. Let the boys launch their rockets, giving prizes for height and distance. The rocket is the party favor they get to take home.