Turning 16 years old is a big event, but the celebration doesn't have to be expensive to be special. Planning a Sweet 16 birthday party is like choosing a gift; the thought you put into it can mean much more than the amount of money you spend, and you can come up with an inexpensive but fun party idea the birthday girl will always remember.
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Most party decorations are inexpensive, but particularly for a soon-to-be-adult, the traditional balloons and streamers can just look cheap. Keep the cost down but make the party impressive by choosing a theme that will make all of your decorations more cohesive. Theme ideas include a luau party, a Hollywood party or a rock star party.
The trick to having a successful buffet without spending a ton is to buy in bulk, but offer a variety. For example, popcorn is a great party snack and quite affordable. Buy plain popcorn in bulk, then serve it several different ways, buttered, with ranch seasoning, or drizzled with melted caramel. Chicken wings are also affordable. Buy them plain, then whisk up a few different sauces using butter, hot sauce, soy sauce, and various seasonings. Instead of a big, expensive cake, make a selection of cupcakes with various flavors and frosting, arranged on a big platter to spell 16.
Hiring a DJ is almost always expensive. However, if you have a decent stereo system at home, just ask the birthday girl and her guests to bring their favorite CDs or MP3 playlist. One guest may even want to act as DJ, picking and choosing songs for the others to dance to.
Teenagers need little to have a good time; being with their friends is usually enough to keep them laughing. Plan a few inexpensive party games like Truth or Lie, in which each guest writes down two lies and a truth about themselves, then reads them out loud to see if other guests can guess the truth. Another fun game is Orange Relay; divide teens into two teams and give each team an orange. Holding the orange under their neck, they must pass it to the next teammate without using their hands. The first team to get their orange to the end of the line without dropping it wins.