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20+ Incredible Tween Birthday Party Ideas: Themes For 9 to 12-Year-Olds

A group of tween boys and girls gathered around the birthday child and cake

When your child hits the double digits, planning a “cool” birthday party becomes a little tricky. Right? They are young enough to want a birthday party but old enough to give a big thumbs down to anything lame and boring.

Therefore you need to have cool birthday party ideas that are hip enough for even the pickiest tween. While planning a birthday party for your tween can be overwhelming and stressful, having a plan might get you a safe landing.

A great tip that will always put things into perspective is remembering that it’s all about your tween and their desires now that they are getting all grown up; come with your ideas and planning tips but let them take charge!

We’re here to help you today with this huge list of tween birthday party ideas, plus planning tips to make everything run smoothly for your older kids’ celebrations.

Disclosures: We are participants in the Amazon Associates Program and other affiliate programs that earn us a commission if a qualifying purchase is made.

How To Plan A Birthday Party For Your Tween

Planning a birthday party can be exhausting and time-consuming, BUT  it’s not if you break it down into small parts. Here are some tips that will ensure you and your tween host a smooth and memorable event.

1. Choose a Theme / Party Type

Considering that it is your tween’s birthday party and you want it to be dope, you should sit down with them and choose a party theme.

Listen to their ideas of how they want the theme to be incorporated into the whole event, i.e., the cake, decorations, attire, party favors, and other birthday details. Or perhaps there’s no need for a theme but a core activity you can work around.

Picking a good party theme is probably the most challenging step in party planning as it has to be fun, unique, extraordinary, exciting, and breathtaking. And also allow everyone to look fab and take instagrammable selfies.

We talk more about party themes below! Read on…

2. Timings

Knowing when the party will begin and end and the day will make the whole event more manageable. Your tween will let you know the most suitable date and time to hold their party.

This will ensure it does not collide with their friends’ planned parties, and also, it should be ideally at the beginning of a weekend or the holidays so your guest won’t have to worry about school the following day.

Do be firm on an end time; nobody enjoys that lingering guest who never goes home! And if it’s a sleepover, set your expectations upfront on lights out and when the end of the party will be.

3. Food and Entertainment

Deciding on the budget for the party will help you know how many guests you can invite over.

The best part is that most tweens aren’t too fussed about fancy snacks – you can still get away with the likes of chips, pizza, hotdogs, and sodas, which are not that expensive to cater for.

What form of entertainment does your tween fancy? And is it going to leave your pocketbook busted? Cheap birthday party ideas for tweens also rock; you don’t always need to be hiring out equipment or entertainment companies for your pre-teen kids to still have an incredible time.

A group of 9 year old boys and girls gathered around a birthday cake celebrating
Select your guest list careful and do set a budget for your tween party

4. Guest List

How many guests does your tween want? How many can you handle? You should walk over the guest list with your tween to ensure you agree on the number of friends you can host BEFORE invites are sent out!

While reviewing the guest list, you should be sincere with your kid about who you are uncomfortable having over. This will ensure you stay as far away as possible when the event is ongoing, as you will be comfortable with the group dynamics.

Will your party be mixed boys and girls or single gender? It is around this age that kids’ interests divest; you will find your tween children move quickly through the phases of being best friends to the girl germs/boy germs phase and then suddenly crushes and teasing – it can be like walking a tightrope to keep on top of!

A parking plan is another thing to remember when planning a guest list and total numbers. If you live in a busy street or apartment building, space and parking for parents need to be factored in.

Do consider inviting the parents to stay briefly at drop off and pick-ups, especially if you don’t know them well, so they can be comfortable with the party setup before leaving their tweens to party independently.

5. Set The Rules For Behavior

You should communicate with your tween beforehand what is expected of them on the material day. Be sure to define the rules and boundaries clearly. This will ensure you do not keep showing up when your tween is having fun with their peers. Trust me, in the event you are uninvited!

6. Traditions You May Want to Uphold

You might have some unique traditions you want to uphold during your tween’s birthday party. A simple birthday celebration becomes unique and memorable when you add little touches that set the day apart.

Over the years, you have learned what ticks your favorite person in the world. Ensure that whichever tradition you choose to work with does not come out as an embarrassment in front of the peers. Examples of traditions are:

  • Let your kid pick the cake they want
  • Birthday person compliment time
  • Making a memory keepsake of the year
  • Posing for a family photo or next to a favorite part of the house or garden each year

7. Locate a Place to Set Up The Party

If your tween intends the birthday party to be lowkey, then your house will be suitable. Your backyard will also come in handy when setting up locations. Ideally, you should have dancing, food and drinks, and activity zones.

If your tween decides on a large party, you should consider renting out space outside the home. Alternatively, setting up picnic tables and barbecues in the local park to accommodate all guests comfortably.

Check if you will require any permits for this in advance – popular city parks or entertainment venues can sometimes be booked up months in advance – we talk more about outside the home party themes below.

If you’re outside, don’t forget to have a gazebo mounted nearby just in case the weather decides to change.

8. Let Your Tween Send Out The Invites

Let your tween feel like the “grown-up” they crave to be. Allow them to send out the invites via any digital means they prefer. Be sure to require an RSVP so you can have a certain number to plan for, and be sure the party invitation doesn’t spread wider than its intended recipients!

Make sure your tween party invite includes:

  • What the occasion is for – clearly!
  • Date and timings
  • Location or pick up point
  • What you will be doing – if there are any special themes, dress-ups, equipment needs
  • RSVP – phone number and cut-off (especially if you’re booking external activities)

It’s always wise to follow up on digital communications with the parents, too! Unsuspecting parents need time to plan; even if their tweens know what’s happening, they may not!

It may be wise to mention that the party will be supervised and ensure the other parents have your contact details.

9. Remember to Put Away Your Valuables

Whilst it’s doubtful your tween hangs out with thieves; kids can be a bit careless and forgetful. If you’re having a party in your home, consider putting away expensive and fragile things in a separate room.

Also, it’s a good idea to have a room set aside where kids can leave coats, bags, phones, and all their other essential tech that follows them everywhere, so nothing gets lost or misplaced.

10. Consider Having A Chaperone

Do you want to monitor your tween’s party without spoiling the fun?

By the tween years, we’re long past parents staying for the duration of the party. But do consider getting a second set of eyes that will allow you to cover the whole ground.

Have you got an older, trusted teen they won’t be embarrassed to have hanging around? A cool aunt or uncle, a God Parent?

When everything is all set and running, try as much as possible to steer clear of the party and let the person you assigned take over in handling the crowd.

Always, always be on hand still though for supervision and in case there are any problems. You, the parent, should be on hand to report back to parents and deal with any first aid issues or mini tween-crisis that can inevitably erupt.

Birthday Party Themes For Tweens

On to the fun stuff now; here are some fantastic tween birthday party themes to make sure their party is one worth remembering.

We have classified them into two categories of home ideas, i.e., indoor and backyard party ideas for tweens and out-and-about ideas in honor of the soon-to-be teenager in your life.

At Home Ideas For a Tween Birthday

Tween parties at home can be less costly than out and about with older kids, and it’s easier to keep an eye on your child, but there’s always the inevitable cleanup after you can not avoid.

At-home birthday parties are also a great idea, especially if your tween’s birthday falls during winter. Some at-home cool tween party ideas are:

1. Slumber Parties

How better to let your tween loose and relive their childhood like a pajama party? Tweens love sleepovers, and this is the perfect age for your children to start enjoying a night away from home in a safe and comfortable environment.

Why not step up your sleepover game and do something out of the box? Sleepovers are best if your tween invites a few of their closest friends rather than a large group.

Having a theme will also ensure you make your tween’s slumber party memorable. You could consider;

  • A movie star party – dress the part and pick your favorite tween movies for a binge batch
  • Spa night – with face masks, nail polish, and other beauty treatments
  • Camping – you don’t need to be under the stars for a fun indoor tent set up
  • Making pizzas and cupcakes – keep them busy in the kitchen and that’s your catering taken care of too!
  • Neon party
  • Gaming challenge – what tweens wouldn’t love video games galore

A pajama party tops the list as one of the best fun and low-budget party ideas for tweens. There are still plenty of slumber party games you can play while engaging your birthday tween in some of their favorite activities.

Remember to state in your invite if sleeping bags will be needed and any extras your quests may need to bring.

2. Backyard Party Themes

Are you on the lookout for a great summer birthday party idea for tweens?

A backyard party theme means a chilled outdoor vibe and easier cleanups with a broader range of activity options. This will allow you to set up all the games, food, and craft stations around your yard beforehand. Backyard parties are a good idea when your tween wants to invite a bigger crowd.

Remember to decorate the backyard with lots of flowers, pretty balloons, glow-in-the-dark lights, and plenty of soft pillows to give your at-home tween party that extra special touch.

Some fun backyard themes include:

  • Backyard beach party
  • Music festival night
  • Backyard movie theatre night with popcorn at the popcorn bar
  • Backyard camping
  • Vintage tea parties
  • Carnival themed parties
  • Tie dying and crafting
  • Obstacle courses or climbing walls

You can also include some fun games like badminton, volleyball, spike ball and more. The great thing about backyard parties, you set the budget! You can make it as low key as your tween desires, to hiring tents and activities, which brings us nicely to…

A pretty set up backyeard ready for a tween birthday party
There are so many great themes you can choose for a backyard party

3. Organized Activities That You Can Bring To Your Home

Yes, you read right! You can still make your tweens’ birthdays extra unique and memorable even with social distancing. Some of the pre-teen birthday ideas that work are;

  • Plan a birthday treasure hunt: Is anyone in the mood for a scavenger hunt? These can be far more challenging than you’d set for your younger kids, possibly even taking them out into the neighborhood to pick up clues and cool prizes as they go
  • A fun idea is to set up a balloon trap outside your tween’s door! Wait in the crowd and watch them get ambushed with a wind tunnel of balloons
  • Have a movie marathon with a hired projector screen and popcorn machine
  • Make a fabulous spa party for your king or queen; hire nail technicians or beauty specialists to your home
  • Candle making, bath bomb making to cupcake decorating, all can be organized with an expert who comes to your home to teach the kids – a big step up from your magician and mad scientist parties from when they were little!
  • Neon glow-in-the-dark dance party with glow sticks
  • Hosting a dinner party is fun to make your tween feel all grown up, have them help prepare the menus to the table settings with their own unique theme

4. Pool Party

If you are lucky enough to have a pool at your home, or one you can easily borrow? Pool parties are perfect for any tween, especially if you’re celebrating a summer birthday.

Blast some music, use balls to play fun games, water guns, and plenty of giant inflatables.

Ensure enough drinks and cups are on hand and keep the sunscreen on tap; have some shade to retreat to and towels for breaks out of the pool. Make sure you have somewhere for your growing tweens to change discretely.

There are so many fun themes and games you can add to a pool party to ensure your guests have a grat time:

  • Have a Hawaiian-themed party with mocktails and lays
  • Set up a mini Olympics; swim races, floatie races, and lots of fun racing games
A group of tween boys and girls preparing to jump into a swimming pool
A pool party is a great outdoor party idea for tweens, with plenty of fun games they can play

To our point above, even if your tweens are all great swimmers, this party definitely needs a chaperone to ensure everyone’s safety.

Out and About Ideas for a Tween Birthday

1. Camp out

Remember, tweens love sleepovers, and camping out makes it even more fun. Your tween and his or her peers can each bring their tent, or they can decide to mount up one that can hold all of them.

Have you got any local State Parks or recreation reserves that will allow you to bring a group? Check if reservations will be needed in advance. You may even find somewhere that lets you borrow equipment.

Once you’ve worked out sleeping arrangements, there’s no end to fun camping activities for your tweens to enjoy. Camps with no campfire are boring! So make sure you set up a campfire to make their s’mores as they chat the night away.

Don’t forget to decorate the tent while spicing it up per your tween’s preference. It is all set for them to enjoy! While this is an excellent tween boy party idea, it can also appeal to your tween girl who loves outdoor adventures

2.  Laser Tag Party

Is your tween into laser tag fun? It is a fun birthday party for tween ideas. Then you should consider booking a laser tag center or taking the party to the park. A great fun tween party idea for your birthday boy and his friends to burn some energy and have a fun time in the process!

3. Amusement Parks

Rollercoaster? Tick. Junk food? Tick. Amusement parks can be a fun place with loads of fun activities for your tween and their friends for an exceptionally thrilling birthday treat leading into those teen years.

If you are lucky enough to live near a theme park, this is a great one to save up for an extra special birthday for your tween and a few select friends.

4. Beach Party

Do you live near the water? We’re sure your tween would love a beach party.

Remember to decorate with inflatables, beach balls, and loads of easy-to-eat snacks and cool drinks. Do not forget sunscreen and a bit of shade.

Similar to a pool party, a beach party opens up endless fun themes you could play around with and a great lineup of timeless party games they’re definitely not too cool for, yet!

5. Hiking

If your tween is outdoorsy, then an epic hike will be right up their alley. You should ensure they are familiar with the route and have a chaperone. Set the distance you’ll be going so you can make sure it’s in all the party guests comfort range.

Also, do not forget to pack great snacks and drinks. They can combine hiking with a sleepover, camping trip or a dip in the pool or a beach to cool their heels!

This is a great tween party idea for tweens who are more connected to nature and prefer not to be cooped up indoors or traditional party formats indoors.

6. Fun-Filled Road Trip

If your tween’s invitees are few, a short road trip would be a fun and cheap birthday party idea. You can always make the road trip more lit by combining it with surfing, camping, sleepovers, and more.

It would be wise to use two vehicles for any emergencies that may arise.

7. Hotel Staycation Night

You don’t have to travel far from home to treat your tween to a dreamy vacation!

Your tween will appreciate the plush surrounding and, of course, the independence granted at a sleepover in a hotel room. They will have an all-in-one package as most hotels will likely have a games room, swimming room, spa, and an opportunity to order a movie and some room service while we’re in their fluffy robes and slippers.

You can always book an adjacent room to ensure you are close enough to help should the need arise and far enough to allow them the giggles (or hushed bases) and noise. It is a fantastic tween girl party idea, though we’d bet there are a few tween boys who’d love it too!

8. Beauty Spa

Why not spoil your queen or king with all the necessities of beauty therapy? Let them feel special on this day and pamper themselves. They can even do some DIYs to make bath bombs, friendship bracelets, sugar scrubs, candles, and more.

Tween girls with cucumbers on their eyes having a spa beauty treatment
A beauty spa with her favorite pals can be the perfect treat for your growing girl (or guy!)

9. Cooking Class

Fancy pizza making or learning to make your own pasta? How about a baking or cake-decorating session?

Ask around your local businesses who would be prepared to set aside some private space and use of their kitchen for your tween and their gang to test out their cooking skills – and that’s meals and clean up sorted for you too!

10.  Sports and Hobby Based Themes

Is your tween a sports lover? There are so many fun activities you could book your birthday kid and all their friends in for.

Here are just a few you could consider, though it will be dependent on what you have available near your home;

  • Setting up a soccer clinic for the birthday girl or boy and their mates
  • Hire out some tennis courts and set up your own mini tournament
  • Hire out a go-kart track
  • Book a session at an ice rink, roller rink, or skate park
  • Hire out a few lanes at the ten-pin bowling alley
  • Set up a girl’s self-defense class appropriate to their age group

We hope this has helped to prepare you for your upcoming tween celebrations. Remember as they grow older, birthdays aren’t just a celebration of self, but something inclusive that pre-teens get huge pleasure being able to share with friends.

You may still want a small family celebration separately where gifts are exchanged, but a birthday party can be one of the best gifts your tween will ask for.

Tween Birthday Gifts

And a quick note on presents! We can definitely help you with this too.

We have hand selected gift guides to cover you throughout the tween years plus plenty of specialty gift guides depending on your tweens interests over on the tween gifts section of our website.

Boy Gifts 9-years-old
Boy Gifts 10-years-old
Boy Gifts 11-years-old
Boy Gifts 12-years-old
Girl Gifts 9-years-old
Girl Gifts 10-years-old
Girl Gifts 11-years-old
Girl Gifts 12-years-old

In our day and age, its a common practice for party guests to bring a gift for the birthday child. If you’d prefer they don’t, make sure this is stated clearly in the invite. Perhaps give an alternative that a donation can be made to a chosen charity on your child’s behalf.

Happy party planning tween parents! Let us know if you’ve got any other great suggestions in the comments.

Tween Parent | Family Lifestyle Blog

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