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13th Birthday Party Ideas

Plan a great 13th birthday party for your child with these helpful ideas.

Set aside a specific time for opening presents.  [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Set aside a specific time for opening presents.

Parents can get 13th birthday party ideas from cultural traditions or from current popular trends. A child's 13th birthday is a coming-of-age milestone in many religions and in modern society -- Judaism's bar mitzvah/bat mitzvah ceremony and Christian churches' Confirmation mark the beginning of a child's religious responsibility. Many 13-year-olds will go to high school the following year, where they will meet with more academic and social responsibility.

Celebrations for this milestone can range from small gatherings with friends and family to a huge blowout with an extensive guest list. The parents' budget and the wishes of the new teen will determine the size and other details of the party. Whether the party incorporates traditional and religious elements or is simply recognition of a new stage in a young life, the 13th birthday party is a chance for creativity, innovation and, of course, celebration.

Personalize the Party

Parents should consider their child's personality and interests to make the party a memorable and unique event. A good starting point for generating party ideas is to consider the teen's:

• Hobbies and pastimes, such as sports, the arts or computer games
• Favorite celebrities, actors or singers
• Favorite books, movies or music
• Family origins or culture, including flags, ethnic foods and traditional music
• Notable people or events from the year of birth

It is essential to get the teen involved in the planning process to ensure the party reflects the teen's interests and taste. Kaboose.com, a Web site owned by one of the largest family-focused online media companies worldwide, recommends starting the planning six to eight weeks before the date of the party. Starting in advance ensures enough time to select a theme, book venues and activities, send invitations and purchase supplies.

Creative Ideas for Theme Parties

Giving the party a theme can help tie in all the elements of the party, like invitations, decorations and activities, as well as add a little extra creativity. Some popular party themes include "masquerade ball" and "Hollywood stars," which allow teens to dress up in costume or as their favorite celebrities. Party planners can recruit friends, neighbors and guests' parents to help put on elaborate scavenger hunts, casino nights and come-as-you-are parties, where the guests are "kidnapped" and taken to the party location.

Kaboose.com provides ideas for parties using glow-in-the-dark balls, glow bracelets and paper party products covered with glow-in-the-dark stickers. Other theme party ideas might revolve around crafts, cooking or sporting events.

Active Parties for Active Teenagers

Incorporating sports or other physical activities is an option for a party whose guests are active. Whether the teen chooses to go ice skating, bowling or swimming, a birthday party involving a fun physical activity keeps guests involved and entertained. Parents can arrange a trip to the batting cages or a water park, golf lessons, camping trips or canoe outings.

Girls turning 13 might enjoy a sleepover either at home or at a hotel. Activities could include dressing up for a fancy dinner, going to a salon for manicures and giving each other makeovers. A shopping party, where each guest is given a certain budget and a certain amount of time to shop, is a fun party idea for an avid shopper.

Bar Mitzvah Ideas

Torah.org, an informational Web site maintained by a Jewish outreach program, explains that in Judaism, a boy becomes a bar mitzvah, or responsible for following Jewish law and tradition, at age 13 (the bas or bat mitzvah is celebrated when a girl turns 12). Along with the traditional Torah readings, leading of services and full recognition in the temple, many families celebrate with a party.

Since celebrating the bar or bat mitzvah is not a Talmudic command, the birthday can be recognized however the child and parents wish after the formal services are over. Decorations might include the blue and white of Israel, and food can be a mix of traditional ethnic and modern favorites. Depending on the number of guests, parents can rent a room in a hotel, banquet hall or community center room for the celebration. A disc jockey, the latest hit music and nonreligious gifts are acceptable at the modern bar mitzvah. MitzvahChic.com offers parents help with creative bar mitzvah themes ranging from "outer space" to "game shows."

Get Party Ideas from the Party Location

The venue of a 13th birthday party can often inspire the overall theme or look of the celebration. Many nonprofit or community organizations offer their meeting and display rooms for rent after working hours. Museums, libraries, recreational centers, schools, sports arenas and churches make great settings for themed parties. Guests can dress in location-appropriate dress (historic costume for the museum or book characters at the library), and creative food and decorations can relate to the event location.

A party that takes place on a boat could have a nautical theme with invitations, decorations and favors designed with anchors, ropes and sea creatures. Attending a professional or minor league sports game with guests might be precluded by fun crafts like decorating ball caps or sports jerseys.

Unlike younger children's parties that often revolve around cartoon characters, 13th birthday party activities reflect the maturing interests of the young teenager. The memories of such a celebration will last a long time and, with a little thought, a simple party can become the event of the year.

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