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I’ve recently entered new territory… birthday parties for 12 year old girls! Over the years we’ve done many different kinds of parties, from discos in youth centres to pizza making in an Italian restaurant, garden parties, bouncy castles and beach parties with sandcastle competitions. All have been great fun; some more expensive (and noisy!) than others. In this current economic climate there is a need for us to rein in our expenditure yet we naturally want to give our children a great, fun party to remember.
Here’s my top party idea for Tweens: A ‘Shopping’ Scavenger Hunt
Young girls will love this one! Make a list of challenges that they must complete within the time frame and give them a copy in an envelope. If you’re doing a sleepover afterwards then arrange a location close to town where parents can drop sleeping bags and overnight bags with you. Alternatively, you could start at the birthday girl’s house and let the party girls take a bus into the town centre. Obviously there is a big difference in confidence levels and maturity in this age group so only do this when you feel they’re ready and responsible enough to be let loose in town!
Set a time frame for the scavenger hunt – around two hours is adequate, possibly less.
Ensure ground rules are set: All must stick together (apart from splitting into two groups for mini challenges). Mum and/or dad or another responsible adult should be in town at all times with a mobile phone in case of emergency. Girls shouldn’t bring any great quantity of their own money (money for challenges is given to the team leader) as this can cause upset among the group.
Scavenger hunt ideas:
· Take group photos in at least 4 different specified locations.
· Take photos of each other trying on the sparkliest, highest heeled shoes.
· Find your dream dress (prom/party style) and take a photo holding it up.
· Every girl to buy (and wear) a hair accessory of a certain colour for £2 (then they get to keep it instead of you having to make party bags!)
· Have some kind of obvious accessory that someone has to wear the whole time – e.g. hat and sunglasses, big wig, Hawaiian garlands etc. – take turns so everyone has a go.
· Find 12 shops whose name has a certain letter in it (I used my daughter’s initial).
· Find 12 items with a number 12 in them. (Swap to 13/14 depending on the age group – just to maintain a theme.)
· Buy three helium filled balloons of a certain colour (To suit your party colour scheme.)
· Split into two teams and buy as many sweets of a certain colour as you can for £2-£3 (The sweets can then be used during sleepover if you’re having one.)
· Give one member of the party (not the birthday girl) an envelope containing a secret challenge that they must complete with the help of all the other invitees but without the birthday girl’s knowledge!! One idea is to buy a funny card, all sign it, and then post it to the birthday girl’s home address. Give them the address in the envelope but ask them to buy the stamp.
Get the girls to take photos of all the challenges as they go along.
It’s fun to end at a ‘secret’ location. Book a café or hotel bar where you can buy drinks but take your own birthday cake. It will seem more special if you choose somewhere you don’t normally go; try hotels with nice views or upmarket coffee shops.
Alternative Scavenger Hunt Theme:
At the beach: Find certain items, take photos in particular places or poses (or with a lifeguard!), use a theme such as Hawaiian and get them wearing grass skirts and garlands. Link in with beach games or a taster session on a particular water sport (paddle boarding, kayaking etc.) Have a barbecue, picnic or dinner in a beach-front restaurant.
Girls LOVE sleepovers! If you don’t have spare bedrooms or enough bedroom floor space then consider letting them take over the lounge for the evening. Ask everyone to bring sleeping bags if possible (saves you washing loads of sheets and quilts afterwards!) and as many airbeds as you need. Push your furniture to the outsides of the room and line up the beds! Give them a couple of large bottles or jugs of water and a carton of juice and a healthy amount of chocolates, sweets and popcorn for the movie. Dinner is probably best kept simple – pizza and pasta generally go down well, alongside a large plate of raw vegetables (carrot, cucumber, tomato, baby lettuce leaves). In the morning, make a large plate of buttered toast and offer a selection of spreads and jams, plus a carton of fruit juice and some fresh fruit – apples, strawberries and small oranges.
Then take yourself and your younger children off to your bedroom for a movie with mum, and leave the older girls to it! If they need anything, they’ll ask, and if anyone is upset, your daughter will come and find you.
Finally, just relax and enjoy it! Your house may be messy and noisy, but your daughter is having fun and growing up. At this age they don’t need to have mum organising games, they’re all quite capable of organising themselves and they know their favourites. The biggest hit is always the bar of chocolate game where they sit in a circle, throw a dice and whoever gets a six has to put on the hat and gloves and chop one square of chocolate off at a time with a knife and fork. It’s a fast paced game and a great one to video!
I have a year to figure out what we might do for the thirteenth birthday party!!
Until next week,