29 answers

12 Year Old's Birthday Party Ideas

Hello Ladies,
My soon-to-be 12 year-old is having a birthday party this year and we're not agreeing upon what to do. She wants a "red carpet" party starting with a literal red carpet going down our front walk. She wants to decorate the whole house like a flashy, glamorous Hollywood party with "paparazzi" taking pictures of the whole shebang. I don't have a problem with most of that - it would have to be toned down, of course - but the bone of contention between us is what will everyone do once they arrive. When I suggest different arts/crafts activities she get a look on her face, like she's on an elevator and smells something bad but is too polite to say anything, and says "no, I don't think so." But when asked for something else she can't give me any answers. It's driving me nuts. I get the feeling she wants something more along the lines of a tween cocktail party. I'm not thrilled with that.
So - any suggestions that we could possibly both agree upon and get excited about? I'm willing to do a little extra work to make it happen if necessary but not willing to shell out buckets of money.
I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks in advance.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you to everyone with their comments and suggestions; there was not a bad one in the bunch. I went over them with my daughter and we've come to a happy plan for both of us. Weather permitting, we're going to turn on the pool heater and let the 5-6 girls she's inviting swim for a couple of hours. Afterwards, she wants to rent a movie, do eachother's nails and eat pizza. What could be simpler? The house will be decorated "Hollywood" style with lots of sparkly stuff, as will the patio area. She's very excited about it and can't wait to pick out bags of nail stuff for each girl.
Especial thanks to those of you who backed up my feelings that what she initially wanted was too grown-up. I remember being that age and wanting bell-bottoms and platform shoes thinking those were very adult. Boy, have times changed.
You ladies are the best.

Featured Answers

I say nix the idea. i'm running into the same thing and found out the girls at 12 are already starting to do the one-up on each other. i suggest go ice skating or bowling...something that's more age appropriate

good luck

2 moms found this helpful

Try this website:

http://www.birthdaypartyideas.com/html/play_parties_1.html

This woman won a contest for best Hollywood party for her daughter. It should give you some great ideas.

Also, you could rent a karaoke machine so they can "act" out all their favorite Taylor Swift, etc. songs. You could make up Grammys for their performances and have different categories so everyone wins. The shy ones could sing in a group.

2 moms found this helpful

My only suggestion is you could use red wrapping paper as the red carpet and just roll it out.

I wouldn't do the cocktail thing either, but you could spritz up some special punch and use really nice punch cups/bowl.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

You can have her friends be the Paparazzi and then they can go to the theatre and see the latest kid movie or into the house to see whatever has been recently released on DVD.... you can serve some "grown up" snacks like wings, pizza, popcorn. You can also have some smoothies to get over the "kid" thing. 12 yo are really beyond the arts and crafts parties unless she is into that kind of thing.

Or you can have a girls only sleep over. That is always popular with that age. I would suggest, if you do that, that all cell phones be checked in with you when they walk through the door. Texting can get out of hand in a hurry!

Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful

My daughter had a Hollywood themed Murder Mystery party. Red Carpet, Hollywood background for pictures. I downloaded the whole thing off the internet and it had two versions, one adult and one childs. My daughter was 15 so we did the adult version, but everyone had a great time and really got into the characters. Good luck, it's a tough age to please.

2 moms found this helpful

Try this website:

http://www.birthdaypartyideas.com/html/play_parties_1.html

This woman won a contest for best Hollywood party for her daughter. It should give you some great ideas.

Also, you could rent a karaoke machine so they can "act" out all their favorite Taylor Swift, etc. songs. You could make up Grammys for their performances and have different categories so everyone wins. The shy ones could sing in a group.

2 moms found this helpful

I like the idea of a movie party, with popcorn and snacks. I don't get the whole paparrazzi thing. Who are the paps? You? Her friends? It's just sounds weird to me. Like "Look at me!". Kiddie drinks seem like a bad idea. Kids are getting drinking habits early on and having "mocktails" seems to be encouraging them that adults need drinks to socialize. Smoothies would be more age appropriate. Honestly, and I might be wrong, I would go bowling or camping or something. The whole "look! I'm a star!" thing seems to send a very self centered message.
Anyway-- good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

I say nix the idea. i'm running into the same thing and found out the girls at 12 are already starting to do the one-up on each other. i suggest go ice skating or bowling...something that's more age appropriate

good luck

2 moms found this helpful

How about making it like a movie premier and screening one of your daughter's favorite movies during the party? Buy lots of popcorn and movie theater candy.

Good luck,
K.

2 moms found this helpful

I had planned a party for my 16 year old but we cancelled at the last minute due to some circumstances beyond my control. This is what we had planned. Our theme was movie premier /oscar night. Oriental trading has a red carpet and some really cute movie premier items. Food was going to be just a few appetizers and pizza. Entertainment was going to consist of cranium (my family loves this game and it requires acting, drawing and music skills), Rockband on the 360, swimming (we have a pool), a scary movie and photos. I'm not sure how much you are willing to spend but I wasn't going to spend tons of money but my idea was to buy those life size cut out pictures of movie stars and have them be silly and take pictures. We have the kodak easyshare camera and printing dock so we could print right on the spot. The twilight characters are really popular among the tweens these days so that was one consideration. My son, the birthday boy, likes Angelina Jolie so that was another one we were looking at. i already own a hannah montana one so we were going to place her out there just to add to the stars but I think 16 year olds would have just colored a mustache on her. LOL! But for 12 year olds how about troy and gabriella from high school musical. I also was going to have have awards like someone listed below but it wouldn't apply to your age group. For your age group I think you could take the opportunity to show them that its not all about looks. Awards can be given out for "best life of the party", "best personality", "best friend to all", "best secret keeper" and so on. I'm sure we wouldn't have finished all the activities but I think it's best to have back up activities because sometimes a activity you think will last an hour only lasts 15 minutes. I love the goodie bag idea someone had below. I hope this helped a little.

2 moms found this helpful

When my daughter turned 12 earlier this year we had a spa like party. We had 7 or 8 girls come. I had pizza and finger foods (popcorn, fruit, etc) I moved the coffee table in the living room and set out blankets so they could chill out there and if something spilled no big deal. We said they could come in there pjs. They painted each others nails, watched a movie, played games and 2/3 hours later it was over. They had a great time. the goody bags I sent home has lipgloss, memo pads, pens, candy. We wanted to give mini bottles of nailpolish but couldn't find any.

1 mom found this helpful

the coctail party sounded fun! i have seen where they rimed glasses with sugar for kids parties in fancy glasses. its really cute. could they do a fashion runway? could they win trophies and have some one intrupt there speech? then have an after party? where they hang out and just be kids perhaps watch a movie, the body gaurd ( i have only seen bits of it )comes to mind. I actually think a coctail party would be a great oppertunity to teach you kids a thing or two about what to do when offered a drink or what you want her to do. i would do this before the party.

1 mom found this helpful

My only suggestion is you could use red wrapping paper as the red carpet and just roll it out.

I wouldn't do the cocktail thing either, but you could spritz up some special punch and use really nice punch cups/bowl.

1 mom found this helpful

An idea might be contests based on hollywood trivia, current fashions, ect. For example the girls could be teamed up and compete over best makeup, or speech on what kind of movie they would star in and than as award ceremony based on the contest. Another idea is to give the girls cameras let them "paparazzi" each other.

1 mom found this helpful

how about do an awards ceremony.. like the Oscars or something.. they walk in on the red carpet and get the paparazzi feel.. then are seating and are giving awards for their individual special quality... everyone wins! Then you can give them shirley temples and have a buffet type line with food.. (doesn't have to be alot0 and end with the cake! Maybe you can both get what your looking for!

1 mom found this helpful

I agree that a cocktail party is not appropriate. But the idea as a whole is great. You could use red plastic tablecloth on a roll as the carpet. The ideas about movie premier, karoake machines, fashion runway with manicures, pedicures are all wonderful. It would all depend on the type of "star" she wants to be. The food could be all finger foods on trays located at different parts of the room like it would be at a party/reception. You could have a party theme without emphasizing the cocktails.

Hope that helps. HAVE FUN!

1 mom found this helpful

You could try manis and pedis, hair do's and make overs, have each girl bring their fav shade of polish, make up and rollers or urling iron's. Ask some of your friends to help out. The party favor could be polaroids coming up the red carpet, and one when they leave all made up. You could probably even find a printable magazine cover!
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

What a terrific idea. I say play up the "grown up" party theme to the hilt: hors doeuvres on "fancy" trays, juice drinks in champagne glasses (plastic ones are cheap), pictures of groups together and music in the background. Limit it to two hours and then you don't have to worry about "activities". We did something similar but we had a sit down dinner and under everyone's plate was a notation on a card they were suppose to read out loud. It pertained to proper dining etiquette. Good time to teach proper etiquette. So, you could have dishes set out with these cards made up and at various times have someone read them. It will stick with them.

1 mom found this helpful

How about making a little room like a 'swag bag' suite like celebrities get at award shows? Keeping with the theme.. ha. You can stock up on fun little bath treats (dollar store, it can get expensive for a bunch of girls since everyone will need a bag..) and things like that. Even TJ maxx has cheap bath stuff and fun costume jewelry too kids can appreciate. Granted it might be cheesy to a girl that age- I have a 20 mo son so I have no idea how that age is:) Mocktails maybe? Make frozen virgin pina coladas in fun glasses (target , lots of stuff on sale like fun plastic picnic ware glasses etc..) and go online or grab a cookbook for creative plates of finger food to have around. Make sure you have music pre approved by your daughter of course - on an ipod ready to play and keep the festive party atmosphere and ipods are great b/c you have a playlist you can throw it all on and not have to worry about the music for the rest of the party.
Kids LOVE makeovers... get creative and try to call a salon or post an ad on craigslist seeking someone who does mani/pedis ( a woman, no weirdos to respond!) and preferably a licensed cosmetologist (who can prove it before you pay her) to do maybe 2 hours or so of mani/pedis or makeup or hair advice. That would need to be done ahead of time so you can meet her, make sure she is legitimate and figure out a flat rate (to be cost effective). In this economy a lot of people are looking to make money on the side. Or even call a salon (suggest JR salon- a fun place and most of the girls there are young and hip) and ask to talk to a manager and tell her your situation. Ask if they could suggest a stylist or someone who could help you out. Even cosmetology schools might have people interested. Call around. And let them know for the mani pedis they need to bring stuff to sanitize the tools after each use too:) Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

You might carry the theme of the Hollywood party over into the activities by having them video tape charades. Each person would have to pull a slip of paper out of the hat and then "act" out the thing they get while it is video taped. Only instead of guessing while they are doing it--play the tape back while the kids are having refreshments and have them guess what each person is acting out. Your daughter can help select the topics but you have veto power over what goes in the hat.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Wow!! They give you wonderful ideas!! I have another suggestion if you live in Houston, TX.. They have awesome place to party for many different girly theme- Red Carpet Party, Pretend PJ party, "Day" Spa party, Fashion show party, DJ or Disco party included boys there!! It's in Height!! Check that out-

www.pinkpokkadot.com/parties.html

They also have HOT PINK School bus to take girls anywhere you want to go.. School to skating party or else..

I wish you the best luck!!:)

1 mom found this helpful

I think you have some great ideas already. I wold also try www.birthdaypartyideas.com. I love this website. It can give you great ideas. Hope you have a great party!

1 mom found this helpful

I would say let her do what she wants within financial reason. She is entering a stage that will be difficult for both and it is a time for picking battles. Otherwise she will resent you with a vengance. As long as she's not drinking, doing drugs or other innapropriate/dangerous behavior, I would let her have what might seem like a silly party.

1 mom found this helpful

She;s 12 wanting to be 20. Tell her the red carpet party must wait until she is 16 then let her and a few of her girlfriends go to a movie and lunch, or bowling with pizza. Your suspicions are correct...she wants a make it a pretent cocktail party, and 13 is just too young for that. When I was 11 my dad told me something..."when you are 11 you want to act 14 and when you are 14 you'll want to act 18 and when you're 18 you'll want to act 22 and by the time you're 22 there won't be anything left for you to do because you'll have done it all." Tell her to slow down and she'll enjoy life a lot more.

1 mom found this helpful

Okay this turned out REALLY long. Sorry. Once I got read some of the other responses, I was inspired and just kept going! Have fun!

Will this be a family party with school friends or just her friends? The following may be difficult on the budget if aunts, uncles, cousins and everyone else is invited. It sounds like a girl wanting to play dress-up :) If it is just her friends: how many? girls and guys, or just girls? If it's just her friends, here are some ideas. Maybe you could ask the parents of her guests to act as food and drink servers - carrying around trays of finger foods and tea/punch/sodas or serving dinner, and also acting as the paparazzi. Any parents with digital cameras could be paparazzi since they wouldn't have to waste film. Whatever # of extra memory cards you already have is the number of photographers you might ask for. If you supply the memory cards, then you can get them back at the end of the night and not have to wait for the other parents to "get back with you about the pictures" (be sure to mark your cards). If you already have a few cards on hand, just transfer what you have on them, empty them and then they can be strictly for the party. They hold so many pics that the photogs can shoot away all they want for a while. Paparazzi are usually at ALL of the following types of parties, it seems.

Ask your daughter if she wants this to be like an "after-the-awards party", THE AWARDS party, or a club scene. None of them have to have mocktails, just serve regular kid-friendly beverages. If you don't make the connection to underage drinking with their beverages (giving them names or calling them mocktails) neither will they.

For THE AWARDS or a MOVIE PREMIERE party, send out fancy invitations that say something about being invited to an exclusive showing of "this movie" or to this Award Show. This would be good for 10 to 15 guests, depending on the budget. When the guests arrive someone could greet them at the door and ask for their invitations OR have a list prepared with ALL of the guests names on it (even those who didn't RSVP, they get their names on the BACK page: "oh you didn't RSVP, we weren't sure you'd make it, let's see where's your name"), ask them for their names, look down the list, flip the pages a couple of times and "find" each person's name and THEN let them enter! They could be announced as they enter, if you like. Have a sit-down meal (like pizza or something else not too much of a hassle to prepare/serve) that they can eat while they watch the movie or awards show.
**For the MOVIE PREMIERE: Most DVDs have trailers of other films that they can watch before the movie. This would probably be the easiest party, since the movie would take up the whole time! They get a "premiere movie gift bag" at the end and they go home :)
**For THE AWARDS: I think making up and giving out awards should only be done IF your daughter comes up with the award topics/titles; you have final say on topics and items given for the awards. Fun awards ONLY - nothing mean-spirited! The awards can be written down on slips of paper and placed in a pretty jar. Have all of the guests names pre-written on slips of paper. When they arrive, place their name in a SECOND pretty jar. Be sure to make them distinctive so the guests names don't get called out first. Have the "awards" set up where the awards will be given out so they can either be seen before being given out OR hidden in gift bags/wrapping to increase the anticipation. While everyone is eating, the Master/Mistress of Ceremonies (the MC) would be "on-stage". He or she would give a little speech about how special a night it is and how great it is to have so many wonderful people there, etc. Then the MC would pull a slip of paper out of the AWARDS jar FIRST to build excitement, then pull a name out of the NAME jar. Each winner would then have to go up to the "stage" to receive the award. The paparazzi would take pictures as they receive the awards/give their speeches. The final AWARD would be for the "Best Actress in a Birthday Role" or something similar and you can give her a crown or a bouquet of flowers or something fitting with the AWARDS show theme. Don't give her an actual birthday present from you because that WILL be too show-offish and may not fit with the AWARDS. IF you time it right, the end of the party will be spent with them congratulating each other on their awards and eating cake before being picked up by their parents (or taken home by their limo drivers/paparazzi/waiters)!

For an "after-the-awards party", it should be a low-key affair with music they can talk and "mingle" through. This would be good for larger parties. You could ask the parents of her guests to act as food and drink servers - carrying around trays of finger foods and tea/punch/sodas. The paparazzi-parents could go around asking for photos and interviews, writing down the names of guests and their Q&A moments. The questions could range from what's your favorite activity to who's you're favorite star, anything that the paparazzi can come up with.

If she wants a "club scene", just have a place cleared where they can dance to music that you have BOTH approved. I still check out song lyrics online if I'm not sure the song is okay. There have been quite a few I was surprised by that I thought were not appropriate but turned out to be okay AND vice-versa. If you have worries about the types of dancing that will go on, give her rules as to what kind of dancing is okay and let her know that since "paparazzi" will be there any inappropriate dancing WILL be stopped and let her know how embarassing that would be, but those are the rules. For a "club scene" you can do buffet-style food and beverages. The paparazzi can be all over snapping photos.

I realize that this seems too "all about me" to some folks, but if done right, it can be "all about the party-goers". Don't you remember as a kid wanting to dress up with your friends as stars in one of your mom's or grandmother's "fancy" dresses & high heels, put on their lipstick & sunglasses and be a star and perform for your parents or other family members or having tea-parties and pretend birthdays or circuses or magic shows? My daughter is fixing to be 10 and my son is 6. They both still enjoy dressing up in my clothes and my husband's clothes and posing for pictures. My son is so GQ right now: he loves dressing up to "be in weddings" since he was the ring bearer in my sister's wedding last year. He LOVES suits and ties! My daughter is practicing her make-up skills. She wants so much to be a teen, and yet she still loves curling up in my lap (or trying to) and cuddling. She's getting good at using the lightest amount of make-up and making it look nice even though she's not allowed to wear it outside of the house, yet. She just found out that about 9 years ago I inherited my late mother-in-law's fur stole. She's just itching to get dressed up and wear it someplace fancy! She doesn't quite get that it was purchased pre-1975 and that I'm not sure of the sturdiness of it today.

Good luck and have fun!

1 mom found this helpful

Is this a coed party? Why not a disco dance and make your own pizza. I would definitely limit the number of invites. Or if it is all girls how about a glamor girl party, nails, spray glitter for hair. Each girl gets a boa and a mani/pedi set for favors. Even throw away cameras. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

A very creative friend of mine did something like this for her daughter, though she was younger. She got friends and family to do all the girls hair and makeup like they were movie/tv stars (the same friends and family were the paparazzi when all the girls arrived). Then, she got the girls together to work on a performance that they did when all the moms came to pick them up. I don't know if a 12 year old would go for that, but they all had a great time! (Oh, and she also had someone build a stage in the backyard for the girls to perform on.)

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe not this year but in the future keep this in mind.

One year a friend of my daughter's did a "Kidnapped Birthday Party". They sent the invitations to the parents and asked for permission to pick up our daughters to kidnap them for a breakfast birthday party. I made sure to have our daughter in "better" pajamas. That morning the mom and the birthday girl drove around picking up the girls.. They took photos, they also allowed a moment for the girls to brush their teeth and even change if they really insisted.. Most just added a hoodie. I think they took them to Ihop. Then they went back to the girls home to open gifts and watch a video. We all picked up the girls later that morning at their house. They really enjoyed it and the photos were really cute. My daughter always mentions this as one of the most memorable parties.

1 mom found this helpful

Life is the best teacher. Perhaps a hands off approach would be best here. Relax and do the toned down version of what she has asked for and tell her that when she decides what the other activities will be, you will work with her on preparing them.
Then let go. It's her party, not yours. :)
I do agree with you though that what she is asking for is very adult. But then our culture is training children to want these things. We hold up icons of young girls who are flashy Hollywood tweens and young 20's. It is natural that our young people should want to emulate what they see in their world.
Indeed, it is the only way they learn how to act. No amount of "telling" children who to be and how to act, will ever be as powerful as the role models and examples they see in their every day world.
Good luck to you.
Z.

1 mom found this helpful

When my children turned 12 years old, what we did was let them play the music that they would enjoy, have different types of snacks and let them mingle. Make sure that you are there but just not real visible and they seemed to have a great time and at the end, 3 of her friends stayed for a sleep over and it was a great hit for all of the kids. This is the time that they start to try to do more grown up things and you can let it happen but just make sure that it is well supervised.

1 mom found this helpful

I dont think i would like if my daughter went to a tween cocktail party!I wouldnt let her go!Maybe try shiny red wrapping paper...and maybe think of some ideas with a nice golden globe dinner outside in the backyard. Sorry i couldnt be of anynore assistance

Sounds like your daughter is watching too much television. Also, you are the parent and she needs to know that parties that are given can also be taken. If you start giving into her very mature request now, what will she demand when she's 18?

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