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12 amazing tween birthday party ideas your kid (and their friends) will actually enjoy

Tween birthday party ideas they'll love

Delicious birthday cake with candles
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Remember, planning birthday parties when your kids were little? Those were always super fun and relatively simple. Times change though when your once little ones become tweens. When kids get older, planning birthday parties becomes a bit more challenging. For tweens, party planning can be difficult because they are in the transitional phase between tween and teen. Tweens have outgrown the typical kid birthday parties, but they also aren’t ready for celebrations more geared toward teens.

The tween age is the years from 9 to 12. So, your soon-to-be 12-year-old is almost a teenager and there are many sensational teen birthday party ideas. The problem is your tween isn’t quite there yet. That’s okay though. There isn’t any need to rush the teen angst. It will arrive soon enough, and there are plenty of exciting tween birthday party ideas to make the guest of honor and the invitees happy.

The key to planning a birthday party for your pre-teen is to navigate the slippery slope of having fun and being cool. Thankfully, there are a lot of fabulous themes for tween birthday party ideas to create a special day for all to enjoy.

Nautical birthday cake at themed party
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How to choose a tween birthday party theme

A good place to start in choosing a theme for your tween’s party is with their interests and hobbies. Do they play sports or a musical instrument? Is there a movie or TV show they’re obsessed with? You could always just go with something that’s super pre-teen-esque, like a Harry Potter party or something Swifties would love. A theme should always reflect what the birthday gal or guy likes best.

Pre-teens watching outdoor movie
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Where to host a tween birthday party

The where is an important component of deciding which tween birthday party idea will top the list. Before you can decide what to do, decide whether you want to host a group of tweens at your home or a party place, or have a destination party. Now don’t worry. We’ve got flexible tween birthday party ideas you can do at your house, destination ideas, and ones that will work somewhere else like a park.

Colorful birthday party table with plates and food
Lidya Nada / Unsplash

Birthday party ideas for tweens

There is something very special about turning 12. It is the last birthday before the teen years officially begin. In honor of soon-to-be teenagers, here are 12 tween birthday party ideas to celebrate your pre-teen’s special day.

Have a number party

A number party can be a super fun way of celebrating your tween’s birthday. For a 12-year-old birthday party, do everything in 12’s. Think about things that come in a dozen like flowers, doughnuts, cookies, cupcakes, eggs, and even strikes in a perfect bowling game, and tailor your pre-teen’s party with all things 12. Be sure to invite enough family and friends to the celebration for an even dozen. Adjust the number theme for your tween’s number. A number party can be used for any age.

80s movie marathon

Hosting a backyard movie marathon is an entertaining way to mark a tween’s birthday, especially if they’re nearing that magic 13. The hardest part is pulling together the outdoor screen and projector. Have plenty of snacks on hand and put 80s classics like ET, The Goonies, and Ghostbusters on the bill. Other movie marathon ideas include Harry Potter, Marvel, Star Wars, or the classic coming-of-age movies like Clueless.


Invite friends over for a make-your-own pizza and sundae party. Have plenty of pizza and ice cream toppings available, as well as ice cream flavors. Make fresh dough or use frozen if you’re nervous about mixing your own. Once partygoers are done cooking, they can eat while watching movies like the Back to the Future trilogy or a Marvel marathon. Of course, you can still serve birthday cake, too. Remember, there can never be enough snacks and water bottles for tweens and teens.

Tweens on a trail ride birthday party
canon-photographer / Shutterstock

Outdoor birthday party ideas

If you’d rather not host a tween birthday celebration in the house, think outside. Getting tweens outdoors will be a snap with these super fun outdside tween birthday party activities. Build a rain date into the party whenever you’re hosting an outdoor birthday party.

Video game tournament

Whether parents approve of all the screen time or not, pre-teens love to game, and it’s a birthday party. So, why not set up an outdoor gaming tournament using a screen with whatever game is hot at the moment? Be sure to have lots of snacks and pizza for those in-between game moments. Get into the spirit with little trophies for the top three finishers and hand them out before the cake.


If the birthday tween is all about soccer, check out outdoor and indoor sports facilities. Most have options for soccer-themed parties that include pizza, cake, and one or two other sports options. If the top sport is basketball, baseball, soccer, or hockey, you should be able to find facilities to accommodate those sports too.

Saddle up!

A birthday is a perfect opportunity to try something new. Saddle the whole family and a few friends up to enjoy a picturesque trail ride. Trail ride birthday packages typically include different age-appropriate options with add-ons like food and campfires.

Nerf fun

Tweens still have a great time loading up Nerf blasters and running around the neighborhood. Go online, order a Nerf blaster, and extra darts for each guest. Head to a local park and let them have a blast. Bring snacks, drinks, paper products, and of course, cupcakes for afterward.

Paintball or laser tag

A step up from hosting a Nerf war at the park is organizing a paintball or laser tag party. Either one would be a hit. Laser tag may be a better winter option. So, you don’t have to stress about the weather. Some places now offer outdoor laser tag parties, too, if you’d rather the tweens get some outside time.

Kids on skates
Sergey Novikov / Shutterstock

More fun tween birthday party ideas

Still not inspired. Take a look at these super fun tween birthday party suggestions.

Skate away

An ice-skating party is a cool way to celebrate 12, especially if the birthday falls in the winter. If not, most rinks are open year-round and still host parties. Skate rentals are always available, and some packages include lessons for novices. Not into the cold? Head to a roller rink instead for a roller-skating party.

Mall scavenger hunt

A lot of tweens love malls and scavenger hunts. Combine the two for a fun afternoon or evening at a local mall. Divide guests into teams with a list of items to find. Set a designated meetup time and use parents as team leaders. When the scavenger hunt is over, head to the food court for pizza and cupcakes.

Host a sleepover

Old-fashioned sleepovers haven’t gone out of style, and they’re always a hit with tweens. Have activities like flashlight tag, charades, or the perfectly named Sleepover Party Game ready to go. Make your own pizzas and cap off the night with a movie complete with popcorn.

Destination birthday

If your tween has been dying to visit a city like New York, Boston, Chicago, or San Diego and wants to forego a party and presents for a birthday destination weekend, see if it fits the family budget and schedule. This kind of birthday celebration can be a fun getaway for the whole family and take away the stress of organizing and hosting a party.

Teens at outdoor birthday party
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How big should the guest list be?

There really isn’t an official age when kids are too old for a birthday party. Gone are the days though when you’re inviting the entire class to a birthday party. When your kids hit the tween years, the birthday party guest list really is pared down. Your tween will want to celebrate his or her birthday with the friends they are closest to.

For some, it will be their sports teammates or dance buddies, while for others, it will be the same group of kids they’ve been friends with since kindergarten. Either way, be sure to talk to your tween about the guest list. If the number of invites is small, perhaps you can do something different, like go to the theater, concert, or sporting event. For bigger guest lists, you might want to choose a venue like a skating rink or laser tag. Those places are easier to accommodate larger groups.

Happy teens at a birthday party / Shutterstock

Final thoughts on tween birthday parties

It doesn’t matter if they’re turning 9,10, 11, or 12; you’ll want to be sure to plan a tween birthday celebration that’s super special. Of course, 12 is the last birthday before your tween is officially a teen, which is why we’ve come up with 12 super fun tween birthday party ideas. You and your tween can have fun finding one the birthday gal or guy will have a great time sharing with friends.

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Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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