For a variety of reasons, you or your daughter may not wish to have the traditional ‘Sweet Sixteen’ party, but still want to have a nice celebration. Perhaps you can only afford a modest celebration at home, or you simply are casual people who don’t like to dress up and have formal parties. You may feel like you are in a quandary, because you want have a birthday party for this milestone year and yet you wish to avoid the inevitable expectations and comparisons that come with the term ‘Sweet Sixteen’. If you are used to having a certain bunch of kids over, the easiest thing to do is just put a twist on what you usually do when these same kids come over.
The first and most important thing is to avoid the use of the term ‘Sweet Sixteen’ at all costs. You do not need an official written announcement. If you are having a casual get-together at your own home, your daughter can issue her invitations by word of mouth. If you do send out invitations, they should be hand-written or printed by home computer (not professionally printed), and not have the phrase ‘Sweet Sixteen’ on it. My daughter did not even want to mention that it was her birthday, but I had some of her friends get out the word that we were also celebrating her sixteenth birthday.
Decorations should be simple and obviously no ‘Sweet Sixteen’ banners or decorations. If your daughter has a favorite color other than pink, make that be the theme color. We had a Carvel cake made that said ‘Happy 16th Birthday’, in pink and green. The theme color was green, her favorite color and the track team color.
That brings us to the guests. Home parties are always most comfortable if everyone is used to hanging out together. My daughter only invited kids from the school track team (which is fairly large, composed of both boys and girls), so this part was easy. We did not invite anyone from out-of-town or relatives; for us, that would signal a formal ‘occasion’. However, some families are used to having relatives hanging around, so by all means invite them if that is what you and your daughter want.
So what do you do at this party? We often have this same crew at our house for ‘pasta parties’ the night before a track meet. The host provides a pasta-based meal and salad, and guests bring snacks and desserts. (This time we simply added a cake, so we had way too much dessert, which no one minded.) Kids mainly just eat and hang out. Guests often bring their own games as well. We had various card games conspicuously placed, and guests brought Twister and other games. If the weather is nice, a trampoline or volleyball net is usually fun for teens. Our gang usually goes for a walk in the woods after dessert.
Of course, you as the host are responsible to ensure that there is no underage drinking or drug use. (See this link for an article that details the Suffolk County Social Host Law.) If you know this group of kids well, they by now should know you would not tolerate drug or alcohol use, and you should know which kids may try to sneak something in. You as the adult are liable for underage use even if you did not yourself provide drugs or alcohol. Having a party the night before an early-hour athletic event one would hope everyone would do the right thing, but you can’t be too careful.
I am writing this the morning after hosting my daughter’s casual ‘pasta party’, which just happened to be in honor of her sixteenth birthday. Everyone had a great time, including me, my daughter, and her guests. Having an un-Sweet Sixteen is a comfortable, low-stress, easy-on-the-budget way to celebrate.