Sometimes people find my blog by doing a search for birthday party ideas.  I thought I’d share what went well during Huh’s surprise birthday party (I wrote about it yesterday), just in case someone is looking for ideas for a teen party.

*The decorations were simple.  Plastic disposable table cloths, a few balloons and some crepe paper were all we needed.  Letting siblings and friends do the decorating really helped out.  They got quite creative with the crepe paper, and it kept them busy while they waited for the party to start.

*We served all the fixin’s for hoagie sandwiches, along with the typical sides such as chips, pickles, and olives and sodas to drink.  I’ve found that teens (at least the teens in our area) like the sandwiches because they can fix them any way they like.  It’s easy to buy the stuff in bulk and then assemble on trays.

*As far as gifts go, we just asked the guests to think of a memory they had of Huh and to bring an object that symbolized that memory.  We allowed the guests to get their food and begin eating before we started the memory sharing.  I made Huh eat at a small table all by herself at the front of the room so that everyone could see her receive each token “memory gift.”  We used a microphone so that everyone could hear.  I shared my memory first so that the guests could see what we had in mind when it came to their turn to share:

I handed Huh a bottle of red cough syrup and said, “Two years ago Huh and I took a one-on-one trip to San Diego.  It was great to take a trip with just the two of us.  We did the typical San Diego things–went to the beach, visited Sea World, did some shopping, snorkeled–we also ate out a few times and watched a pay-per-view movie in our room.  I have great memories from that trip, but one of my favorite memories is from the very beginning of the trip at the San Diego airport.  I was recovering from a cold and still had a residual cough, so I had packed my red cough syrup in my suitcase.  Somehow the cough syrup bottle opened in my suitcase and began to leak out.  I didn’t discover it until we were standing outside on the sidewalk waiting for a shuttle.  It leaked in such a way that it looked like blood was coming from my suitcase.”  I then showed the following picture:

My bloody suitcase!

My bloody suitcase!

“I took a picture of the suitcase so we could chronicle this part of our trip and Huh used her camera phone to send a picture of it to some of her softball friends back home.  We joked that I had killed and dismembered some random person and had put their body parts in my suitcase.  We moved the suitcase away from the spill on the sidewalk (we didn’t want it to be confiscated as part of a crime investigation) and sat and watched people’s reactions as they came upon the spill.  We got a good laugh from most of the reactions because it really did look like blood and people weren’t sure what to do when they saw it.  It’s too bad we didn’t have a video camera with us.  It would have made some great YouTube videos!”

Once I had finished sharing my memory I drew guests names from a bowl.  As their name was called they came up, presented their memory object to Huh and shared their memory.  There were some hilarious memories.  Huh received a lot of bandages and wraps because, as a softball player, she always seems to have an injury somewhere on her body.  I also learned some things about my daughter as her friends shared memories.  For instance, I learned that she and a friend once played hooky from school and went to the park to play on the swings.  I also heard about the time it was her idea to egg the highschool boys baseball field.  Sigh.  I think Huh enjoyed the memory portion of the party, I mean, what teen doesn’t want to be the center of attention for a little while?

*After everyone had eaten we played our game.  Because we had kids from different high schools at the party I wanted to mix them up a bit so that they could get to know each other.  Using the names in the bowl again, I randomly called out names, placing them into groups of four.  We then played a modified version of Bunco (also spelled Bunko–basic rules can be found online).    We played six rounds.  After each round I made the winning partners at each table stand, I then had one of the “losers” at each table switch places so that they were no longer across from their partner.  Then I instructed the winners to find a place at the next table over.  Doing that made everyone have a new partner for each round.  This worked well for mixing people up and even sparked an interest in at least one of the boys to get the phone number of a girl from a different high school.  🙂 

We awarded prizes:  For the winner of the most rounds we gave a t-shirt that said, “I know how to roll ’em!”  For the winner of the most natural buncos we gave a t-shirt that said, “I’m a natural!” and for the person who lost every single round we gave a t-shirt that said, “I suck at life.”  Of course, it helps that we have a side business in which we make custom t-shirts.  It made getting our prizes that much easier.

*After the game we allowed guests to make their own banana splits and just visit.  Some started a one-court basketball game after they were finished with their dessert.  Others thought it would be fun to suck the helium from the balloons.  I quietly started the clean -up and let them linger as long as they wanted.

The party was simple, yet fun.  It worked well for the 36 teenagers who were there.  This party would work well for almost any size group.  I think the most important thing was letting the birthday girl shine for a couple of hours.