January 13, 2009,
D.D. asks from Westford, MA on November 24, 2008
Surprise Party for 18 Year Old Son
Hi, I am planning a surprise party for my son's 18th birthday. Not sure how many kids to expect as I am discovering teens aren't too good at the rsvp concept. I am planning for about 40, I have a community club space I can use. I have food, cake and will have music. Does anyone have any success stories of special activities to include in case the mix of kids isn't generating enough energy? (Two of his friends helped me with the guest list and they say to just "hang out"). I want it to be relaxed and fun but now I am having a complete anxiety attack that kids will be "bored". Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
C.L. answers from Hartford on November 25, 2008
One of the things that has become very popular is getting a dance teacher (ballroom) to come and teach some dance steps. I suggest swing or salsa.
G.F. answers from Greensboro on November 25, 2008
I am positive that if you ask a few of his friends, one of them or all of them will be in a band or be a DJ (spinning tables or MC type). I can also garuntee that they would love the chance to perform. My only word of advice is to tell them to get there an hour early (seriously) and then they MIGHT show up right as your son gets there.
J.H. answers from Boston on November 25, 2008
When my son turned 18, his girlfriend and I threw him a Ninja Turtles themed birthday party.
He was a crazy TMNT fan as a little boy-and he loved it at 18!! It allowed him to be a big guy and a kid all at once. His friends loved it too.
Just a thought--to bring back something he loved as a little boy.
Don't worry about them being bored--just being invited and participating with food and music is usually enough for them. Enjoy this --it is a big day in your son's (and your) life.
C.H. answers from Boston on November 25, 2008
My first thought when I read your request is for you to hire either a local band or a DJ. I have two teenagers as well, 15 year old boy and a 17 1/2 year old girl. When my daughter turned 16 I did the same thing as you, rented out a room at the community center. I tried to get our local middle school rock band, which my son was a part of at the time, but they were unable to play that day. So, what I did was have a few of her friends that I knew well be in charge of the music. It worked out great! Check with some of you son's friends and I bet you will find that someone knows of someone in a band. My son and some of his friends started a band and after they played at a school function, people started asking them to play at different things. I would make sure that you hear them or have heard from other adults who have heard them. But I'm sure they'll be great! Good Luck! I'll be facing this first in April when my daughter turns 18 and then in October when my son turns 16!
D.B. answers from Boston on November 26, 2008
I think they will want as little an adult presence as possible, so any activity they can do themselves is fine. Be sure you have plenty of adult supervision, though. Regardless of the "invitations", this sort of thing hits the Facebook pages and text messages, and all kinds of kids will show up. Also, some kids may admit uninvited kids thru the back doors, so have some help on hand for that too. Be sure you have adults there who know the kids and can keep out the uninvited. A police officer isn't a bad idea but otherwise you need adults with a backbone to handle the door so that you can focus on food, getting your son there, and other things. Anything that goes wrong will be YOUR responsibility. The fact that this is not in your home may encourage kids to do try things in an anonymous public place that they wouldn't do in your home. Even if his friends are good kids, other kids find out. I agree that having them there very early is a good idea - if you are doing prizes, then have something for the early arrivals as an incentive.
Hanging out is probably what they really want to do. Otherwise you can do a karaoke machine for less money than a DJ. The kids might not like dancing, especially in a small group and with adults around, so find out from the friends before you go to the expense of a DJ. An alternative is to have them hook up their iPods to a set of speakers, and let them choose their own music.
C.V. answers from Boston on January 13, 2009
If your having a hard time with kids RSVP'ing try evite.com ...now-a-days kids don't use a phone...its all about texting/emailing/blogging/technology.
MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC is key! Your sons' friends will know the right music to choose so let them make the choice. If you can afford it...get a a DJ if not...Ipod it all the way! Also, I suggest you create the right ambiance...figure out what your son is into and go with that theme...decor makes a cool impression on the kids, gets them talking and helps everyone relax and have a good time.
Another idea is to designate a person who isn't afraid to mingle with the kids to take group pics and random pics of people...so that way at the end of the party you have saved memories of the whole night. Teenagers LOVE taking pictures of themselves! ;)
Get help...have a few (2 or 3) of YOUR friends help you set-up before, keep an eye on the kids, clean-up afterwards, etc...they can also help you have a good time and relax too! Good luck! ;)
J.A. answers from Boston on November 25, 2008
I think your son's friends are right. The right music is primary to the party's success. If you have a DJ many of them have interactive shows which include the guests and keep things moving, so a great DJ or Band are worth their weight in gold.
Otherwise, you might want to consider door prizes announced each half hour or so to keep the kids engaged; simple but not likely to be considered "dorky". The kids could get a ticket at the door and the stub could go in a jar. (think of movie tickets, music store gift cards, blockbuster gift cards etc.) Each 1/2-1 hour, turn down the music and gather the kids to announce that hours winner. This will redirect kids but not intefere too much with the overall party. To make it more fun make it a yankee door prize so each successive winner can keep their prize or trade for any previously won prize. Tons of fun!
Also if the club does not require a police detail (most do) seriously consider paying one. The presence alone will be a great deterennt. They are teenagers after all.
L.K. answers from Lewiston on November 25, 2008
We have older teen boys and have been having parties since their early teens. We have always included some sort of "auction" at the end which usually means a bunch of inexpensive but fun items (i.e. giant chocolate bars, etc...) While they are hanging out you can include ways for them to earn auction (monopoly) money. You can be as involved or uninvolved as you want. They could play video games for points or darts or whatever, or you could just give them all the same amount for the auction. Leave plenty of time as the auction can get wild and is lots of fun. I always include stuff I have picked up on clearance so they can "shop" for holidays as one son's birthday is near Christmas. L.
L.S. answers from New London on November 24, 2008
Make sure you have a couple of TVs set up with game consoles like Wii games and other video games. I'm sure the boys can help you out with that one. Is it boys and girls? Set up some poker tables and let kids play for prizes. Lots of food and sodas. 18 year olds like their privacy, so I'm not sure if this is a kid's party only or an adult and kid party. But video games and card games will be a good addition! You could also set up a "Don't forget the lyrics" type of karioke party. Set up a place where they could take digital pictures and automatically print them out on a printer. Hope this helps.