Gone are the days of the backyard party featuring simple appointments such as a homemade character-themed cake, candy-filled pinata and cutesy crafts. As your little one turns into a tween and later a teen, parties become much more than basic birthday celebrations. These social situations may mark your child's move into a new year, but will also serve as a way to hang out with friends and create new memories. Picking the perfect party spot can make or break your child's big day.
While your tween or teen son may balk at the idea of spending his birthday shopping with pals, your daughter may find this a tempting treat. Organize an afternoon out at the mall for your tween or teen's next birthday bash. This isn't to say that you should offer to buy loads of clothes or accessories for your daughter and her friends. Instead, spend the day window shopping, trying on favorite outfits fashion show style and lunching at the food court.
Book a pool party for your tween or teen at the local swim center for a fun-filled and festive time. Your child and his friends can splash around, race through the water and enjoy a meal and cake during a cool pool party. If you are allowed to decorate the swimming or eating areas, try a more grown-up theme such as a Hawaiian luau. Set up decorative tiki torches -- the pool rules most likely will prohibit you from actually lighting them -- and hand out flower-filled leis. Go for easy, tween- and teen-friendly foods such as hamburgers and hot dogs or pizza.
If you have fond memories of taking your little one and her friends to a colorful kids' or fast-food type of restaurant for her birthday, don't think that this same fare will go over well with your tween or teen. Choose a nice restaurant that requires more dressed-up attire or opt for a fun-filled themed or foreign food venue. For example, Japanese hibachi restaurants provide an extra layer of entertainment as the talented -- and knife wielding -- chef prepares and cooks the food at the table in front of your teen and her guests.
Active tweens and teens may enjoy a sports-themed party. Don't just decorate your house with posters of famed athletic heroes. Instead, book an afternoon out at a local gym or community center. For example, The Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City, California offers a teen sports party where your child can choose from basketball, flag football, floor hockey, volleyball or soccer. If spectator sports are more your tween or teen's thing, opt for a day out at a major league game.