22 Birthday Party Ideas for Tweens That Are Actually Fun

Mandy Velez | Apr 29, 2019 Food & Party
22 Birthday Party Ideas for Tweens That Are Actually Fun
Image: iStock

spa party
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Planning a birthday party these days is a big deal. Just like gifts for Christmas and Easter are becoming more, uh, involved, Pinterest has totally upped the birthday party game. Themes, even for kids' movies like Moana, seem to be getting more over-the-top than ever. But when kids are smaller, it's easier to plan them. The tween crowd is more complicated. They're not teenagers, yet, but they're not little kids, either. Unless the day is just a group of kids staring at their phones or tablets, (talk about a party gone wrong,) planning an age-appropriate party for them, which is super fun and can hold their attention, can be a challenge. That's where this list of tween birthday ideas come in. 

Bowling is the go-to, but at this age, they tend to crave a celebration that's a little out-of-the-box. So what does a birthday party like that look like? Think YouTube. Think emojis. Think of the things they want to do, but may be a little too young for without supervision (spa day!) The ideas below touch on all of those things to turn interests into an entire concept for fun. But don't worry. Each can be adapted for the needs of each tween and mom. Basically, none of them will break the bank. And they're totally able to be simplified, too, which often turn out as some of the best ones. 

My own ninth birthday party stands out as the most memorable: My mom booked double rooms at a nearby hotel that had an indoor pool. We had a swim party/sleepover and she didn't have to worry about the mess. Her only mistake? Not getting her own room to get some sleep. See, sometimes putting a mom's needs first can work out for everyone. Take a look at the parties below and get inspired. 

  • Makeup-Themed Party

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    Break out the sparkles and blush. Throw a makeup party for the glitzy tween who just loves to paint her face. Hire an artist or two to come do the work, or go the more affordable route: run to the dollar store and/or get samples from retailers like Sephora and Ulta and let the kids go to town. Add in some makeup contests and makeup-themed favors (or just rainbow-style ones). 

  • Emoji Party

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    Tweens love emojis. They're fun and silly and make for great decorations. Grab white paper plates and have an emoji-face decorating contest. Or get an emoji piñata. There's lots of emoji essentials to choose from on Amazon. 

  • James Charles-Themed Party

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    OK, back to the makeup idea. Take it a step further and have a YouTuber-themed party. Break out the makeup and slap the word "sisters" on decor or T-shirts, and have a few iPads around so the tweens can film their own YouTube videos (not to post anywhere unless it's OK). If there's time, make a cardboard "YouTube" screen for photos. 

  • Dog-Themed Party

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    Bark! Dog parties are a theme almost everyone can get behind. Get doggy plates, doggy-themed games, and put dogs on the cake. Go a step further and invite a few shelter dogs over for a meet-and-greet. 

  • Craft Party

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    This one's for the artsy tweens and there's plenty of routes to take it. Go to a ceramics store to paint or head to a craft store to get canvases or other DIY activities to do at home.  

  • Sleepover

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    Sleepovers are the quintessential birthday party idea, but take it a step further by renting tents for the sleeping bags. Or, find a company like Once Upon a Sleepover that can set up fun sleepovers.

  • Spa-Themed Party

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    Tweens need pampering, too. Between the hormones and the drama, they'll be sure to love taking it easy and doing their nails or getting facials. Get robes for each of them and kid-friendly or homemade organic face masks. 

  • Laser Tag Party

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    Laser tag is on the old-school list of party ideas, along with bowling, but it's evolving thanks to fun new places with new courses. Nerf gun parties are also a thing and there are even services that bring the game and arena to the tween's house. 

  • Arcade Party

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    Arcades will never go out of style. Take that route for a birthday party and find an arcade, whether it's a smaller business like TNT or bigger like Dave and Buster's. It's a great place to let tweens feel independent, but still like kids because of the prizes at the end. 

  • Fortnite-Themed Party

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    Is a tween really a tween without liking or knowing about Fortnite? Bring the game to life at a party for them. Print out Fortnite-themed decor and set up gaming stations wherever possible. 

  • 'Cupcake Wars' Party (or Donuts!)

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    Bring the Cupcake Wars from Food Network to a birthday party. Bake as many cupcakes as there are kids and set up a decorating station. Have the tweens decorate their creations, with sprinkles and frosting, and have them try one anothers. 

  • Hotel Pool Party

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    Hotel pool parties are super underrated, but truly a great party for tweens. Find a hotel with an indoor pool and then rent rooms to have a sleepover after. It's the best of both worlds, sleepover and swimming, no matter the geographical location. As mentioned above: This has minimal cleanup. Just tip the hotel staff well! 

  • Cooking 'Class' Party

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    Calling all budding chefs! Have a cooking party, or pizza-making party. Give each tween their own apron and set up all the tools and ingredients they need. It's a fun activity with the food made by the guests themselves. Win-win. 

  • Slime Party

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    It's no secret that slime and kids/tweens are basically synonymous. To indulge them, throw a slime party and have each guest make their own slime to take home. 

  • Photo Scavenger Hunt

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    No one is too old for a scavenger hunt. Make it 2019 style by making it a "photo" version. It'll give the tweens something else to do with their phones other than selfies. 

  • Blow-Dry Party

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    Let their hair down! Even grownups love getting blow-outs (thanks for the inspo, Kate Middleton.) Dedicate an entire birthday party to letting them get the Insta-worthy looks they want -- from braids to curls. 

  • Escape Room Party

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    Tweens love a good challenge -- give it to them by having an escape room party. They'll spend their time solving clues and trying to beat the clock to make it out of the room and win the game. Bonus: Moms don't have to participate. It's the only time "locking them in a room for an hour" is what's supposed to happen. 

  • Camping Party

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    Just because there's no woods nearby doesn't mean camping can't happen. Crowd-source tents and set them up in the backyard. Don't forget to roast some s'mores with the birthday cake! 

  • Game Truck Party

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    Not enough TVs in the house to have every kid at the party play? No problem. Just rent a game truck. It features all types of games in one mobile truck that can come to any place where the party is being held. Like the hotel party, minimal mess! 

  • Glow-in-the-Dark Party

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    Everything is more fun in the dark -- at least to tweens. Purchase all glow-in-the-dark items and then turn off the lights for a fun, and glowy party.

  • 'Blue Man Group' Trip

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    Take the party on the road to a show like Blue Man Group. It's fun and engaging and a great experience for tweens who are finally old enough to sit still for longer than two minutes. 

  • Dylan's Candy Bar Party

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    Sugar should be permitted on birthdays. Go full-on sugar rush by having a candy-themed party. Dylan's Candy bar locations host parties that allow attendees to stock up on all the sweets they could want. 

  • Pin It!

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    Birthday Party Ideas for Tweens pinterest image

    Add this graphic to your Pinterest boards to save these ideas birthday party for tweens! 

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