Throughout my life, I’ve been to many sweet 16th birthday parties. Unfortunately, I don’t really remember most of those occasions. Ultimately, the events that stood out the most were the ones that weren’t traditional birthday get-togethers. But don’t worry — even if you don’t know what to do for your 16th birthday yet, you can still make it a day you (and your guests) will remember.
But how can you go about planning such an epic birthday celebration? Well, to begin with, it would be good to establish how many people will be present. On top of that, you’ll want to consider the budget you’re working with. Once you have determined those two factors, you’ll be able to choose one of the following ideas and brainstorm your sweet 16th from there.
What to Do for Your 16th Birthday to Make It a Day You’ll Never Forget!
#1. Make a Wishlist — and Get Yourself Something Nice
If you’re at a loss for what to do for your 16th birthday, just start with the basics. Birthdays are all about presents, right? So why not think about what you want to get this year? And then, rather than leaving it up to chance — simply get it for yourself!
Naturally, this idea presumes that you have some cash saved up. However, you can always work within your budget by searching for items that fall within it. If you have some money to burn, you could get yourself expensive makeup, shoes, or an Apple Watch. Just take care of the quality of products while investing your hard-earned money in makeup or shoes and other things. Buy from brands that offer quality at reasonable prices. Just like Loom waterproof footwear, which offers high-quality shoes made of merino wool fabric at the prices that no one can beat.
On the other hand, if you’re working with a tight budget, you can get a trinket or something you’ll have for a while. That includes shirts, candles, or plants for your room, among other things. You may have to shop around before you find the perfect item to commemorate the occasion.
#2. Enjoy a Spa Day
If the only thing you want for your birthday is to unwind, I have the perfect plan for you. Choose one day to completely unplug from your phone and enjoy a relaxing day at the spa.
If you’ve never been to a spa before, you should ask for recommendations or look up online reviews to find the perfect spot in your neighborhood. It’ll also help to research the different packages they offer or even just call ahead to ask what each service entails. Knowing what you’re signing up for will go a long way to making you feel comfortable.
Now, spending a day at a spa can be a solitary activity or something you do in the company of your favorite people. If you choose the latter option, you could take some friends along or just go with your mom. Either way, you’ll get the pampering you deserve while getting to chat with your closest confidants.
#3. Do a Photoshoot
If you decide to get gussied up on your birthday, you might as well immortalize the look with a photoshoot. Many people choose to mark milestones by snapping a few photographs. But isn’t there something so glamorous about having a professional take the pictures?
Just imagine it — getting your hair and makeup done, deciding on a theme, then basking in the lights! At the end of the day, you’d get awesome photos that capture your bombastic personality for future generations to admire. And that’s the most important part of this whole thing!
So don’t be afraid to be as creative as you like when choosing the theme and setting for the shoot. If you have the photo shoot in a professional studio, you could use different colored backdrops for each of your outfits. On the other hand, you could have the photographer meet you in a field of flowers and go for a more bohemian look. Alternatively, if you want to show your connection to your family, you could have a group photoshoot at home.
#4. Make a Homemade Meal With Your Family
If you still don’t know what to do for your 16th birthday but you’d like to involve your family in your plans, why not start with a simple meal? Preparing your favorite dishes with the people you love most can be a fantastic way to welcome the next stage of your life.
While your parents prepare the main course, you could dice vegetables for the salad, and your siblings could set the table. You can all enjoy each other’s company while celebrating the momentous occasion. Best of all, this idea won’t put much of a strain on your budget if you only invite the closest family members.
#5. Eat Out
On the other hand, if you’d rather leave the cooking to the professionals, you could take a few people out to eat. The budget would depend on the number of people you want to invite and whether you plan to split the bill. Generally, the birthday guy or gal (or their parents) are expected to pay for the whole party. So that’s certainly something you’ll need to take into account.
If you decide to run with this idea, take it as an opportunity to dress up! It is, after all, a special occasion. But of course, going to a fancy restaurant isn’t the only food or drink-related event you could organize. Depending on where you live, you might also find some food or drink tasting events in your vicinity. Alternatively, you could just get your friends and take them to a cafe or a more low-key eating establishment.
#6. Organize a Sleepover
Now, you can’t think about what to do for your 16th birthday without giving a good old-fashioned sleepover a plan. Remember, there are only so many sleepovers you’ll get to have with your high school besties! So I suggest you make use of this opportunity to host one!
To begin with, you’ll want to make sure that you’re only inviting as many people as you can comfortably fit into your room. You can get inflatable mattresses or even sleeping bags, but you shouldn’t leave anyone without a place to sleep. Sure, you’ll stay up well into the night but, at some point, even the most determined night owls will succumb to the call of the Sandman.
Before that happens, though, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy all sorts of snacks, games, movies, and — of course — birthday cake!
#7. Host a Game Night
There’s almost nothing worse than going to a boring birthday party — except, maybe, hosting one. On the whole, people waste too much time thinking about decorations and food and not enough time setting up activities. Well, hosting a game night would certainly prevent that from happening to you.
Don’t get me wrong, you can still have fun decorations and snacks around — in fact, they’re kind of a necessity. You could even combine this idea with a hearty meal and call it a Murder Mystery Dinner Party. You’d just have to print out some roleplaying information for each of your guests. But in general, playing board games or cards is a good way to keep people from aimlessly shoveling food down their throats out of boredom.
It should be noted that many of these games have found ways to transcend the limitations of space. So if you find yourself unable to be with your friends on your birthday, you could always play together online.
#8. Throw an Outdoor Party
If you’re still wondering what to do for your 16th birthday and you happen to have a backyard — there’s your answer. Put up some fairy lights, set up a snack table and some chairs, and you’ll have a classic backyard party going. Alternatively, you could lay down some blankets and pillows for your guests to lounge on.
If you don’t want to go for the basic backyard camping theme, though, there’s one thing that could amp up the occasion. Get a movie projector and point it at the side of your house — or a standing projection screen. And if you want to make your makeshift movie theater more legit, you’ll just have to serve your guests some popcorn!
#9. Host a Karaoke Party
If your friend group is full of rowdy extroverts with decent singing abilities, you could make your 16th birthday memorable by organizing a karaoke party. You could either do it at home or go to a karaoke bar if you find one in your area that serves minors.
Wherever you end up hosting your karaoke session, make sure you have a concession stand set up. You’ll also need to have beverages available to soothe aching throats. Some people are bound to attempt advanced singing techniques and their unabashed failures will surely bring the house down. Suffice it to say, you might not want to break out your Ariana Grande impression until everyone puts their phones away.
#10. Go to an Amusement Park or the Arcade
Amusement parks and indoor arcades are a fantastic way to spend your special day. You can either go solo or with some of your loved ones. What’s more, you’ll have plenty of different parks to choose from. If you want to make the trip memorable, you could shoot for the stars and go to Disney World.
Alternatively, you could get tickets for a nearby water park or just visit the local arcade. Whichever one of these options you choose, you’ll be able to experience different rides or games and hit every food stand between them. So if you’re still not sure what to do for your 16th birthday, keep this idea in mind.
#11. Go Bowling
If you like bowling — or you’d like to try it, look into finding an aesthetically pleasing bowling alley. You see, half the fun of having a bowling birthday party is in the awesome photos you’ll be able to post to your feed afterward. Fortunately, these establishments usually maintain a certain image. Think neon lights, ‘80s-inspired carpets, and rented shoes.
Moreover, many bowling alleys also have food courts so you and your friends should be able to chow down after your game. Additionally, your local business might have some kind of special offer for birthday parties. For example, I’ve heard of some places giving out bowling pins. After the partygoers sign the pin, the birthday guy or gal gets to take it home as a reminder of their epic birthday bash.
#12. Visit a Trampoline Park
If bowling isn’t quite your style, you might prefer to go to a trampoline park. You’ll have to do some research to find the best one in your town. Still, once you get through the planning phase, you’ll see that this idea can be just as memorable as any of the others I’ve suggested.
Most trampoline parks have quite striking decor that should be perfect for birthday photos. So if you’re still undecided as to what to do for your 16th birthday, this might be something you’ll want to consider!
#13. Book a Laser Tag or Paintball Session
Most of the old paintball arenas are now capable of hosting laser tag parties as well. If you and your friends are generally competitive and borderline violent about your affection for each other, these activities will be perfect for you. These arenas usually have both indoor and outdoor areas so you can choose whichever you prefer. Even better, many of them are right next to an eating establishment you can use to debrief your team.
#14. Have an Escape Room Experience
Are you a self-professed brainiac? If so, have you considered putting your deductive reasoning skills to a test? A good escape room can test even the strongest of minds — and it can be even more fun if you take your besties with you.
Alternatively, if you’re just in it for a thrill, you could always visit a haunted house with your friends. Of course, before you start planning what to do for your 16th birthday, you’ll have to check if these attractions even exist in your city.
#15. Rent Out a Skating Rink for a Private Party
While you’re researching local attractions, you might want to look into local skating rinks. As with laser tag and paintball arenas, there are different varieties of skating rinks you could visit on your birthday.
Indoor ice skating rinks are open year-round, but during the colder months, you’ll be able to enjoy outdoor ones too. Then again, if you tend to fare better on wheels than on blades, you might prefer to have a ‘70s-style roller skating party. Such establishments usually have a strong disco theme throughout the decor and their choice of music. So you could use your birthday bash as an opportunity to dress up in vintage clothes, too!
#16. Catch a Movie, Play, or Music Concert
If you enjoy a good show as much as the next person, you can stop thinking of what to do for your 16th birthday. Make plans to check out that new blockbuster or play everyone’s been raving about with a few of your friends.
You could even book a private viewing at your local theater so you’ll have the whole room to yourselves. On the other hand, if none of the new movies interest you, you could probably find a theater that shows old ones. Recently, cinephiles have been flocking to drive-in movie theaters. If you have one in your area, there’s a good chance that it’ll be showing a cult classic film.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to watch a play or enjoy a concert, you’ll have to reserve your tickets well in advance. If it’s an especially popular show, you may have to think about it months ahead of your birthday.
#17. Explore a Museum or an Art Gallery
If you love visiting cultural and artistic events in your city, you could make that a part of your birthday. Find out when the first museum in town opens and be there in that moment, then visit all other museums in its vicinity — even the ones you’ve never stepped in! If you want to expand your artistic sights without having to plan what to do for your 16th birthday, you could hit up some art galleries instead. Just go downtown and walk into every gallery that looks remotely interesting.
#18. Go on a Road Trip
Most people don’t get to experience many adventures by the time they turn sixteen. If you’re one of them, you could use your birthday as an opportunity to live a little. Ask your parents if they’re in the mood for a road trip or if they’d be open to letting you go with an older sibling or friend. Then, pick a nearby place you’ve always wanted to visit and make a day of it!
#19. Rent a Cabin with Your Friends
If you like the idea of going away for a while, you could take a short vacation with your favorite people. Again, you just need to pick a place you’ve always wanted to visit and pack your bags. Even if you go to the next town over, the change of scenery could be just what you need to step into the next phase of your life.
My favorite version of this idea involves booking a remote cabin on Airbnb and spending a weekend exploring the surrounding area with your loved ones. Between your nature walks and picnics, you could retreat to the cottage for naps. As for meals, I suggest that you bring basic groceries you can turn into scrumptious meals — or simply order food from local restaurants.
#20. Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Of course, you don’t need to take yourself off to a remote cabin to enjoy the great outdoors. There are plenty of ways to incorporate nature when you’re planning what to do for your 16th birthday. For example, you could start your day with a trip to a city park or the zoo alone or with a couple of your best friends.
On the other hand, if you want more than just the basic park walk, you could try to find a good hiking trail nearby. Or if walking just isn’t good enough for you, consider going on a riverside bike ride. Even if you don’t have a bike, you’ll probably be able to rent it at the beginning of the local bike trail.
#21. Take Up Extreme Sports
If ever there was a time for you to take up extreme sports, your 16th birthday is it! When you’re sixteen, you can try pretty much anything you want. If you haven’t tried bungee jumping or skateboarding, I recommend starting with that. Alternatively, you could go straight for rock climbing or even skydiving.
On the other hand, if you live in a mountainous area, you’ll have even more options to try out. You could go mountain biking, zip-lining, or try different winter sports like skiing and snowmobiling. It all comes down to where you live.
Ultimately, most of the ideas I’ve presented above will require more workshopping on your end. You’ll have to find a drive-in movie theater or skating rink in your area before you commit to a plan. Alternatively, you’d have to research decoration ideas and recipes before you can execute one of the at-home options I’ve listed. Still, once you figure out what to do for your 16th birthday, the extra work will become easy!