She may pine for her own “Jake Ryan” or a shiny new car wrapped in a big fat bow, but there is a more realistic request you can fulfill for her sweet sixteen—throw her the party of her dreams. Invite her coed high school crew to a homespun formal to beat all school gym dances, complete with virgin daiquiris, a great DJ, and, of course, sweaty palms and swaying under the twinkle lights.
The Sweet Life
Set up a sweet theme. Send out invitations printed with images of lollipops and candy kisses on them. Make a note that the attire is semiformal—fun party frocks for the girls and ties for the guys. For an extra treat, order a limo, stocked with sparkling juice and plastic Champagne glasses, to pick up the ladies at school on Friday. Instruct the driver to end up at your house so the girls can primp together before the party starts.
Create a candy bar. Set up a sweets table with vases filled with lollipops and big glass cookie jars packed with gumballs, taffy and all her favorite candies purchased in bulk. Set out metal scoops, glassine bags and stickers with her name printed on them so her friends can fill up their own bags of take-home treats.
Think pretty in pink. Decorate your backyard or living room like a twinkly little paradise. String white lights through the trees and from doorway to doorway. Hang up pink, white and tangerine paper poufs and lanterns. Dress high-top tables with white tablecloths, and sprinkle them with votive candles and fresh vases of flowers. Turn the side of your garage or a blank interior wall into a movie screen—and project classics like “Sixteen Candles” and “Pretty in Pink” on mute for a cinematic backdrop.
Designate a mix master. Ask your teen if she’d rather book live music (aka her favorite high school garage band) or have a relative play DJ with a long list of her friends’ favorite tunes. And work a few slow songs into the mix to see if any crushes come together on the dance floor. Post the mix on iTunes so all the besties can have a copy.
Make it picture perfect. Rig up a photo booth by hanging a roll of colorful paper or designating a nice blank wallpapered or painted wall. Fill a basket with fun props—hats, fake moustaches, wigs, sunglasses—for silly shots. Post them on a photo-sharing site the next day so everyone can have their pick.
Host a mocktail hour. They’re not old enough to drink, but who says they can’t pretend? Fill big glass drink dispensers with virgin lemon-strawberry punch and have sibling “butlers” walk around pouring sparkling juice all around.
Go with simple snacks every teen loves, served on fancy trays.