There are many similarities between the coming of age celebrations, quinceaneras and sweet sixteen parties. Both celebrations are meant to honor a young lady as she approaches becoming a young adult. I would say, in general, the main difference between the parties are that in MOST cases, quinceaneras are more formal and are celebrated with specific traditions. Although my website focuses on quinceaneras, if you are planning a sweet 16, you can definitely find a lot of sweet sixteen ideas here, too!
Sweet Sixteen Ideas
How big and extravagant your 16 party is depends on your budget, and your vision for your party. Not everyone wants a big, elaborate party–and sometimes, you may not even want an actual party. Here are a few ideas/examples of sweet sixteen celebrations~
*Backyard BBQ: Some of the best parties are at the simplest of locations. If you don’t have to rent a location, then you can spend your budget on other party stuff, such as your dress/outfit, decorations and good food. Set up a DJ booth and get one of your friends or siblings to take charge of the music for the evening.
*Ballroom Party: If you have the budget and the desire for a huge fancy party, check into event locations around your town. Banquet halls, ballrooms at hotels, and event centers can provide the perfect setting for your party. If you choose a day other than Saturday, you may even be able to get a better price for your sweet 16 party. If you are planning a fancy party like this, check out and compare several locations to find the perfect venue for your big day.
*Trip with Friends: If you tend to have a few close, important friends, this might be the idea for you. This can be as simple as a day trip, or as big as a beach vacation. Some ideas in the middle: a weekend in town at a hotel with a couple friends (and parental guidance:), camping at a KOA or other campground with friends, or an overnight roadtrip to a nearby destination.
*Day at the Beach: A party at the beach or lake is a fun option if you live near water and your birthday is at the right time of year. Rent a party tent or reserve the pavillions that most parks have. You can create a beach theme or a Hawaiian theme, or invite your guests to come dressed in all one color, like an all-white party.
*Restaurant Celebration: Many nice restaurants have separate rooms available for parties. This is a nice option if you have 40-50 or less guests. You can arrange with the restaurant for a buffet set-up, or a plated dinner for your guests. I like this sweet sixteen idea because you can get some really great food and have a fun party but it won’t be too difficult to plan.
*Day on the Town: Gather up a few of your best friends, and plan out a fun filled day. It may include some activities such as shopping, manicures/pedicures, canoeing/kayaking, a visit to a zoo/aquarium/museum, skiing or sledding, dining out, and a trip to the movies or a show/play. It just depends on your interests and the time of year!
Sweet Sixteen Themes
Because a sweet sixteen is usually less formal than a quinceanera, you have many, many options for your 16 theme. You can do anything from a Barbie theme to a Halloween theme, from an Enchanted Forest theme to a British theme for your party. You can also choose to have a color scheme in place of a theme: decorate your party in your color scheme and let celebrating you be the theme!
What your 16 theme should be depends on YOU! There is no one size fits all sweet 16 theme. Some girls like super girly themes, while other girls would never choose a girly theme and may opt for something totally different. To get some 16 theme ideas and tips for choosing a party theme, check out my page here for quinceanera themes. You can also find theme ideas by color here.
*16* Sweet Sixteen Birthday Ideas for Any Size Party
1. Balloons! Balloons make a big impact and can make a location as simple as a backyard feel like a festive event! The more balloons the better. For a big impact, include some huge balloons in your decorating!
2. Make a photo display. Start collecting and printing out photos of your life to display. From baby to present. You can find a lot of cute ideas for this on Pinterest: here’s one I like.
3. Dress up. Even if your party is not at all formal–that doesn’t mean your dress can’t be!! There are many, many options for cute sweet 16 dresses in all price ranges. A website that I like, no–actually LOVE, for dresses: Best Bridal Prices. They have dresses from many designers, for ALL occasions. If you like looking at dresses–which I do!–you could get stuck on this website for awhile 🙂
4. Invitations. Find invitations that go with your theme or color scheme. Two websites that have great selections for sweet 16 invitations: Zazzle.com and Michaels.
6. Set up a dessert station. It’s always a nice touch at a party for there to be a special dessert table for you and your guests. It could be a chocolate fountain, an ice cream sundae bar or perhaps a candy bar. This can take the place of an actual cake or it can be in addition to a cake.
7. Karaoke! This can turn into a lot of fun for everyone. Rent a karaoke machine–or see if you can borrow one from a friend!
8. Instagram it. Create a hashtag for your party, like #AlliesSweet16. Ask your guests to use this tag for any photos from your party they add. You can print out the Instagram pics, or use them to create a photobook (see #16).
9. Photo booth. These can be so much fun at parties. You can rent a true photo booth, or you can create a fun backdrop for your friends and family to pose in front of. Add some fun props that go with your theme.
10. String Lights. Use them everywhere. Whether your party is indoors or outside, string lights will create a magical feeling for your sweet 16.
11. Make a grand entrance. Plan a way to make a grand entrance into your party. This could mean you rolling up in a cool vehicle, being carried in, or any other creative entrance that you dream up.
12. Plan your music. Music can make or break a party–I have seen it happen! If you are having a DJ, make sure that he has a list of what you want to hear–and make sure that he will actually go by your list. If you are not having a DJ, make sure you have someone who is willing to play DJ for the evening–usually there’s plenty of people willing to help with this!
13. Plan a surprise dance. Do you like to dance or perform? Get a few of your friends together to plan a dance you can do for your guests. Head over to YouTube and search for “Surprise dance for sweet 16”.
14. Guest Book. Make a guest book and ask your guests to sign it, leaving you the best piece of life advice they can offer, or have them share their favorite memory with you (or both).
15. S’Mores station. Having your party outside? Will there be a late night campfire? Create a DIY s’mores station, with sticks, graham crackers, marshmallows, and a couple different kinds of chocolate for your guests to design their own s’mores. Hint: Reese’s peanut butter cups are amazing in s’mores!!
16. Create a photobook to remember your day. I have created photobooks through Shutterfly and I am always amazed by the quality of their photobooks.
Are you having a sweet 16? What sweet sixteen ideas do you have to make your day fun and memorable?
My Perfect Quince