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Teenage Birthday Party on a Budget

Teen Party on a Budget

Most teenagers today are hugely influenced by social media.  My niece had her 16th birthday coming up and wanted something extravagant and OTT, similar to what celebrities throw and then splash over the internet.  Her idea was something along the lines of what can only be described as a wedding.  Needless to say, her poor mother was struggling with the idea of how to deliver this wedding theme on a budget, so I offered to help out and organise her 16th birthday party.

If you’re teenager has millionaire-dreams for a party, it is possible to bring them back down to earth and deliver something that has the essence of what they’re after, whilst being realistic with the cost.  The biggest tip I can give you is to start your planning early.  The more time you have to organise, the more time you have to source bargains and DIY.

Here are some easy tips to making your teenager’s party stress-free, totally awesome and delivering it on budget.

Before you start anything, check out our post here on how to plan an event.  The same principles apply.

The first step is to chat with your teenager and get a feel for what they want for their party.  Don’t stress or get frustrated if they have unrealistic expectations, this is just a starting point.  Once you’ve got the essence of what they want, look at how it can be simplified.  Think logically, not emotionally.

So, for my niece’s birthday, she wanted elegance, candles, fairy lights, nibbles etc.  I took this idea and simplified it back to something that was achievable and suitable for a 16th birthday, but still gave the effect she was after.  A sophisticated, elegant masquerade party.

Beautiful Party Ideas

Here are a few simple steps to help get you get started:

  • What sort of theme are they going for?
  • What colours do they want?
  • Look at your budget, be realistic with this and let them know what you have to work with.
  • How many people?
  • Inside or outside?
  • Sit down or finger food?
  • Type of food?  This can be worked out with the theme in mind.

So, now you have the theme worked out, it’s time to look at what you already have that you might be able to use or repurpose.  An old curtain lying in the cupboard can be a tablecloth or backdrop, an old picture frame can be painted and repurposed into a photo booth frame.  Get your thinking cap on and look at everything with a critical eye.

When executing a theme for a birthday, look at what will have the greatest impact and concentrate on that.  For my niece’s party we went for an outdoor, high tea masquerade party in pink, white and black with a touch of silver.  Here’s what I did for decorations:

  • shear curtains to hang down the posts of the veranda
  • fairy lights to hang over the roof
  • tables with white tablecloths and a runner in the colours she wanted
  • main table centrepieces were glass jars filled with flowers
  • wine glasses with candles inside to help with mood lighting
  • central table for the cake, framed by a balloon garland (so simple to make)
  • white bird cage filled with flowers.
  • DIY chicken wire balls wrapped with fairy lights for mood lighting
  • drinks table, glass canisters and clear cups.

Everything was incredibly easy to pull together, and as a bonus, I had most things already.  All I needed to get was the tablecloths, runners and balloons.  Spend the time and get the planning right.  If you don’t have something, ask to borrow from friends or family, or else scour the op shops before paying retail.  Op shops have an amazing range of household items that can be upcycled with a little paint or some creative flair!  Also, don’t forget your Christmas box for the fairy lights.

Making a balloon garland

Beautiful Party Ideas

What you need:

  • balloon tape (also called a balloon strip)
  • balloons

This project couldn’t be easier.  The balloon tape has holes already in place so all you need to do is insert the tied part of the balloons into the holes, and it holds in place.  Balloon tape can be purchased from eBay or from party supply retailers, even Kmart sells a kit (called a balloon garland) containing a 5m strip with 50 balloons for $6.  Bargain.

If you’re able to buy the tape, cut it to the length you need, fill with balloons that suit your colour scheme, and fix in place.  Easy, simple and something different.

How to Make a Balloon Garland

DIY light balls

What you need:

  • chicken wire
  • battery operated fairy lights
  • thin wire for binding

These light balls are super simple. All you need to do is cut the chicken wire into lengths and bend it around to make a circular shape.  Make sure you don’t cut the wire too small otherwise it won’t be wide enough to wrap around to make a ball.

Also, a little warning: make sure you wear gloves and long pants when doing this.  I didn’t and my hands and legs were left a tad scratched after making 6 balls.

Once you’re happy with shape, wind the lights around the outside of the ball and secure in place with bits of wire.  Don’t worry about trying to hide the battery holder, just slip it inside the ball.  When it’s night time and the lights are on you won’t see it.

These little lights look amazing lit up in the evening and aren’t expensive to put together.  They’d add great atmosphere to a party.

How to Make Chicken Wire Light Balls

When it came to the food, we went for a high tea so opted for finger food.  We left out the party pies and sausage rolls and had mini quiches and meatballs instead.  These were a little different for the teens, and made life easy for us as they could be made in bulk ahead of time and frozen, or else you could buy a box here and there along with your regular shop to spread the cost out.

As we’ve said before, it’s important to keep things simple on the day.  You don’t want to be madly running around in the kitchen trying to juggle 20 different things.  We had all the food prepped and ready to go for when guest arrived, with plenty of crisps, lollies and pretty cupcakes to fill out the tables.  They’re still teens after all.  It was super easy and required very minimal effort on the party day itself; we only had to warm some of the food.  Easy.

How to throw a Teen Party on A Budget


Finger food is such a great option if you’re catering for a lot of people.  It spreads around the guests really easily and can be filled out with finger sandwiches, assorted dips with warm flat bread and a selection of antipasto.  Finger food can be brought out throughout the event, no need to have the timing perfect as you do for a sit-down dinner.  You also don’t have to worry about having enough tables, chairs or even plates.  Finger food is usually just accompanied with a serviette.  Extra bonus – less dishes!

My niece thoroughly enjoyed her birthday and loved how everything turned out.  I hope your teen has as much fun at their next party too.


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