When MTV produced a show called "Sweet Sixteen," I had no idea my daughter would be dreaming up a fabulous birthday party of her own complete with singer Mariah Carey at some big hotel in Charlotte.
Turns out it's the dream of many teen girls who so look forward to turning 16.
Sure, I would love to host a party for the entire Clover High School at the convention center with the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus and Kanye' West. Oh, and to make the party complete, I'd purchase my daughter a stretch Hummer with Louis Vuitton seats, Bose surround sound and 22s ... whatever that is. Sure, she's my little girl and I want to give her the world, but I don't exactly have an extra $1.2 million in the budget for a party like that.
I realized I would have to be creative. Here are some ideas to make your 16-year-old's birthday special.
First, decide on a party location. In our case, my daughter asked several of her friends to celebrate with her by going to dinner in uptown Charlotte. The teens dressed up, met at our house and rode the Cats light rail station into town. After an exciting 23-minute ride to Rock Bottom, where they purchased their own dinner (saving me money), they toured the Epi Center and The Taste of Charlotte, where they were introduced to a crowd of hundreds while on stage with The Reach Band. How cool is that for a group of our local teens?
After the festivities, the girls returned to our house for dessert. To make the dessert buffet special, bring out the crystal and fine China to serve ice cream and cake. That alone makes your teen feel special because they know you never eat on it unless it's a special occasion.
We also created a video presentation with humorous photos for her and her friends to enjoy. My husband used a simple I-Movie software package, which when done, was complete with pictures taken throughout her lifetime accompanied by her favorite music.
All in all, the party was a success, and our daughter and her friends were the happiest I have ever seen.
Just think outside the box. You can create a party around a local festival, a theme park, rent a limousine, fly to New York for the day and have dinner (find great economy rates online), rent a dinner boat, have a masquerade ball at your clubhouse or in the back yard, have a sleepover and let them eat junk food and laugh until the sun comes up.
Also, go online and sign your teen up to get free stuff on their birthday, such as Freestuff.com, Aerie (girls lingerie) and restaurants.com (get $25 gift cards for $2 to $10).
We also sent out a birthday announcement to all of our friends and family with a list of stores our daughter likes. Gifts were purchased online, and the gift cards were e-mailed directly to her. Check with local retailers and restaurants for free dinner (such as the River Rat) and gifts. Use twitter and facebook to announce the special birthday and the event.
Don't stress over it. Remember, teens just wanna have fun.
-- Gwen Terry