Your list is empty.

Save musicians, entertainers, speakers and services, and they’ll appear here.

Or, request a…

Sign Up

Sweet 16 Party Ideas

6 Steps to a Really SWEET 16

Making a wish

Turning 16 is one of the most anticipated moments in your teen’s life and with it comes all kinds of excitement. Once they get past the drivers test (phew!), the one thing on their mind is throwing the greatest Sweet 16 Party their friends have ever seen! With such high expectations, the task of celebrating your 16-year-old’s birthday may seem a little daunting. How do you pull off a party that your teen will never forget (and might even put down their phone to experience)? Follow these 6 steps and you’ll be well on your way to throwing a spectacular Sweet 16 Party…


Step 1: Set the Date & Budget

Since this is going to be the biggest and best Sweet 16 Party your teen could ever imagine, it’s important that their closest friends and family can be there. The party doesn’t have to be on their actual birthday, just make sure to pick a date that works for as many friends and family as possible. Once you’ve set the date, establish your budget for the party to make the rest of your planning much easier!


 Step 2: The Guest List

Whether your teen is their high school’s socialite or would prefer a more intimate gathering of friends, the guest list is a major part of their party. It’s time to get those invitations ready! Ask your teen to provide you with a guest list, or make one together that suits your budget. Invitations are a party’s first impression, so it’s a great idea match the party’s theme. Getting custom invitations is an easy way to ensure that your teen (and their all-important BFF’s) are excited about the party right off the bat! After creating those masterpiece party invitations, remember to send them out around 3-4 weeks in advance so your guests have time to make arrangements and buy the perfect gift!


Step 3: Venue & Decor

16 is a major milestone for your teen and we know you want to make their party unforgettable. So, the next step is to choose a theme. Have the birthday girl/boy help you decide which party themes they’d love for their special day so that you can find the perfect venue and get started on the party decor to match! If you’re planning an outside party, consider reserving tents from a Tent Rental Company in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. Whether you’ll be partying outside or inside, your guests will need somewhere to sit, so remember to provide tables and chairs. Creating the perfect party atmosphere can be a pretty big undertaking, but hiring a Party Planner to handle all of the details can make things much easier for you. However, if you decide to take it on yourself, it can be a fun project for you and your teen to work toward together. Plus, GigSalad is here to supply the tools and party ideas along the way!


Step 4: Food & Drink

As you well know, teenagers always seem be hungry, so food will play a pretty big role in the success of your party. If the budget allows, book a Caterer to provide creative party eats to match your them. It will ensure that your time at the party isn’t spent replenishing the snack table, and frees up time for you to enjoy the party with your teen. Still, consider your atmosphere. A low-key party might only call for pizzas and a dessert table or, if your party’s outside, a cook out. Depending on your theme, hiring a Bartender to serve soda and custom mocktails is another creative way to make your party stand out. Of course, since this is a birthday party, we certainly can’t forget the cake (yum!). If you aren’t ready to try your hand at becoming TLC’s new “Cake Boss,” ordering a cake from a Cake Decorator is a great way to showcase your teen’s personality with a fabulous cake. Don’t forget to make the birthday official by lighting candles for the guest of honor to blow out and make a wish!


Step 5: Entertainment

One of the most important aspects of the party will most definitely be the entertainment. After all, the entertainment is what really gets the party started! Hiring entertainment may be the most costly part of the party, so keep your budget in mind while you look for the perfect DJ or Cover Band that’ll have your teen and guests dancing the night away. Be sure to ask your teen about their music preferences so you can choose a band within their favorite genre or provide the DJ with a list of your teen’s favorite songs. If a dance party isn’t your teen’s thing, consider booking a Comedian or Magician to entertain the crowd. Want to leave a lasting impression? Setting up a Photo Booth allows your guests to get silly and print out memories of the best Sweet 16 Party they’ve ever been to!


Step 6: Party Favors

Thank your guests for making your teen’s birthday so special by giving out Party Favors as they leave. Photo Booth strips make for great party favors, but if you want to go above and beyond, consider making individual goodie bags for each guest. Fill each goodie bag with party-themed keepsakes that will continue to remind your guests what a fantastic time they had at your teen’s Sweet 16!


Now that you know how to throw your teen the amazing Sweet 16 Party they deserve, remember to document all the fun. Consider hiring a Photographer to capture the memories so that you can be out there enjoying the wonderful party you put together! With a few great ideas and the right tools, party planning can be both fun and simple. If you find yourself needing an extra hand, reach out to us at GigSalad for all of your party planning needs!


Other Birthdays & Anniversary Ideas:

Featured booking options for Ashburn, VA events:

Illusions By Vick



Ellicott City, MD

The Magical Worlds of Jack Julius

Make your next event stand out with Professional entertainment. From close-up to…


Washington, DC

Michael Chamberlin, Magician

Fast-paced, original & spellbinding sorcery that leaves audiences happy &…


Arlington, VA

Soundz Mobile DJ Service

Soundz Mobile DJ Services is a professional and high-quality mobile disc jockey…


Baltimore, MD

Browse all performers and services near you:

For many teens, the coveted 16th birthday is the biggest day of their lives thus far. First task of the day: take the drivers test (gulp). Second task of the day: throw the biggest and best Sweet 16 Party their friends have ever seen! These tips will help make their day everything they've dreamt it to be and more...
Sixteen is a big one!

Sixteen. It marks the monumental year that you get your driver's license. It may also be the year that you throw a killer sweet sixteen birthday bash that your friends will be talking about for years! GigSalad is ready to supply you with all the tools and ideas you need to throw an unforgettable sweet sixteen party. Whatever you have in mind, we have an array of party ideas to suit your needs and keep everyone entertained.

What will your sweet sixteen year old want?

Shows on MTV such as "MY Super Sweet 16" can give your teenager some extravagant ideas for their party...ideas that may be WAY out of your budget. So it is a good idea to sit down with them and discuss ideas and let them know their limits. It's important to keep them involved because this birthday is a very important one, so you want to make sure it's everything they dreamed it would be. Give them your budget and have them help make decisions about the number of guests, venue, entertainment and food. By giving your teenager the opportunity to help plan their sweet sixteen party, you're giving them the responsibility and independence they want while still being involved in their life.

Before working out the entertainment and party details, first decide on a theme for the sweet sixteen party. Will it just be a simple party done up in decorations based off your teenagers favorite color, hobbies or movie? Or do you want to do a full theme party such as a Hawaiian luau, Flashback to the 80s or maybe an Oscar or Hollywood themed party! Once you've decided the theme, choose your location, date, time and guest list and get your invitations out right away! Use an invitation printer to have invites worked up that match your theme!

Find the perfect entertainment to rock the party!

The most important piece of the sweet sixteen party is the entertainment! There are so many options to go with, so it is very important that you figure out together what will work best for your teenager and most importantly, your budget! This might be the thing you spend the most money on. You may cut back on the decorations or the food so that you have more for entertainment. If you just want music to back up a dance party then you will want to look into hiring a party band or cover band! If you do go with a live band, choose a style that matches your teen's music genre preference. Would they like a country band, a rock band or you could possibly get a tribute band of one of your teenagers favorite groups? Or you could go more simple and hire a DJ to come in and provide a variety of music or make the guests the entertainment and hire a karaoke DJ to get the party goers involved!

If you decided to do a specific theme, you might want to hire entertainment to go with that party theme. If you chose to have a luau or beach party then you might want to hire hula dancers or a steel drum band. If you went with a Hollywood theme, you could bring in a celebrity impersonator to mingle with the crowd and take photos with the guests. One last option to consider is to bring in a comedian, hypnotist or magician to put on a show. Everyone loves to laugh and be amazed so any of these options could be a great hit among the teens at the sweet sixteen celebration!

Something to remember about teenagers: they are always hungry!

You will definitely want to provide food at this sweet sixteen bash. Your budget, location and theme all need to be taken into consideration when planning the menu. If you can afford it, you may want to hire a caterer and choose the menu based off their specialties and creative party food ideas. If your party is going to take place outdoors, then maybe barbecuing with a menu of hot dogs and hamburgers would be the best option.

If you have a specific theme then maybe talk to your caterer about specializing the menu to fit that theme. At a luau, have seafood and tropical fruits with smoothies. At a Hollywood party, have a wait staff serve hors d'oeuvres and bartenders with sparkling cider and Shirley Temples. If the party is more low key then you might not need an elaborate menu. Order some pizzas and set up a pizza buffet, or just have a table of refreshments and snacks such as chips, dip, fruit trays and desserts with bowls of punch. If the venue you have chosen does not provide tables and chairs and these things are necessary you will want to contact a party rental company to provide these things for you.

Filling in all the details

It's important to set the mood of the party with appropriate decorations. Find party decor that fits your theme and creates a fun atmosphere for your teen and their guests. If you do not have a specific theme then go with decorations and streamers in your teen's favorite colors. It is also a good idea to come up with party favors to give to the guests. This is a great way to thank them for coming to your party and also gives them something fun to save as a keepsake to remember the wonderful party they attended! Your party favors will generally tie into your theme. Hand out leis at a luau or give out awards at an Oscars party. If you cannot come up with theme appropriate favors, then you can have goodie bags with candy or chocolates.

Both you and your teenager will want the memories of this sweet sixteen party to last forever, so it is very important that you capture all the little moments with pictures. You can decide to take the pictures yourself or designate a family member to do it for you. If you have the budget for it, hire a professional photographer to handle it for you so that you can spend your time either at the party with your teen or hiding away in the corner watching from afar as your teen may request. After all, parents are an embarrassment! Another fun idea is to set up a photo booth. Allow your teen and their guests to take goofy candid photos that print out right away. This is an additional party favor for the guests as well!

If all of this still sounds like a lot to take on, you could always hire a party planner to handle it for you. However, with the right resources you and your teen can do it yourselves and have fun doing it. GigSalad is here to help you every step of the way as your one stop shop for all your sweet sixteen party planning needs!