How to plan the perfect Sweet 16 birthday party

As the lyrics go, "sixteen candles make a lovely night," but planning for that lovely night can be stressful with all the details you have to arrange. If you want to host the perfect party to celebrate the big one-six but aren't sure where to start, we've got you! Whether you have no clue where to start the planning process or have so many ideas you aren't sure where to start, we're here to help put together a fantastic bash to commemorate your special day.

The theme


The first, and perhaps most crucial step of planning the sweetest 16 is selecting a theme for your party to follow. You can choose between specific ones (you could completely recreate Olympus in your living room and serve guests blue food for a demigod-themed bash) or broader ideas such as a golden theme (Taylor told us to on "Daylight," natch). Choose your theme wisely, as it is what gets your party off the ground. A theme can relate back to the event's decor, music, food and activities—all essential on the party planning checklist.

The decor

Once you've decided on a theme, it's time for decor! Possibly the most fun part of planning a party, decorating for your Sweet 16 doesn't have to be complicated *or* expensive. Balloons, banners and flowers are all classics. Most convenience stores carry a large variety of basic party decor different colors and patterns to match your theme. If your party is in the evening, candles or fairy lights would be a nice addition. 

The music


What's a party without a popping playlist? In our opinion, the best party songs are the ones that the whole group can jam out to together. That means everyone knows the words and everyone can sing along. (Think: "Party in the USA" or "Burnin' Up"). An easy way to accomplish this is with a throwback playlist of your fave Y2K hits. Of course, mix in your fave trending songs as well. A good variety of music ensures that *all* your guests are happy.

The food

Another crucial aspect of any Sweet 16? The food, ofc! When planning your party feast, you have *tons* of options, which can be overwhelming at first. Our advice? Consider the overall feel of your party. Are you going for a more formal or casual vibe? This could be the difference between having pizza delivered or getting more formal catering. Have a party theme in mind? Get creative and incorporate it into the food offered. And don't forget dessert! Candy buffet, anyone? When in doubt, choose all your favorite foods — it's your party after all.

Check out these related articles for more party inspo:
🎉 Quiz - What's your perfect birthday party theme?
🎉 The do's and don'ts of the *ultimate* birthday bash
🎉 How to host a rootin' tootin' cowgirl birthday party

Tell us about your Sweet 16 memories on Twitter @girlslifemag!

All GIFs via Giphy
Slider image: @pressley
Top image: @momonatamada


by Melanie Dowling and Madeline Morrow | 12/3/2022