Two Totally Cool Birthday Party Ideas for Tweens & Teens

"Kids today don't get impressed easily, and when their birthday rolls around it can be hard finding a party theme that they won't turn their noses up at," says Dawn Sandomeno, who, along with her partner Elizabeth Mascali, runs PartyBluprints. We asked Dawn to do a little recon for us, and she polled a group of tween/teen moms and teachers to see which birthday party ideas were on trend. The findings? TV is the ticket.

Here are two themes that take their inspiration from television. Take it away, Dawn...

1. Compete and Celebrate Take your cue from the popular NBC show Minute to Win It. This party theme provides one or two hours of serious fun that can hold up under the scrutiny of tween and teen guests. Minute to Win It works for a home party because the games are challenging but setting them up is not. Most of the items you need are in your pantry or garage. For a material list and directions on how to play over 100 official games from MTWI click here. You can find invites here and party printables (like the ones shown at left) here.

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2. Cook and Celebrate Again, TV is the inspiration for the themes of these parties that really cook: Food Network's Cupcake Wars and Chopped as well as Bravo TV's Top Chef. The key to these parties is to prep food ahead of time, and consider the age and skill-level of guests to create appropriate challenges. The oven and stove can stay off if you wish.

Related: Party Plan Like a Pro

With Cupcake Wars, you can have guests compete for best-decorated cupcake (or try a best ice cream sundae competition). To kick it up a notch, try asking teens too create a dish (appetizer, entrée or dessert) from a basket of pre-designated ingredients (like the show Chopped). You can also turn on the grill, grill up some pizza dough, and have the party goers compete for the Top Chef title by designing the best signature pizza pie.

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For party recipe ideas, make sure to check out, a James Beard award-winning website, that I love for its easy navigation and 350 video recipes, which are simple to follow and kid tested and approved. A great take-home favor for any of these cooking-themed parties is an apron and chef hat. Check out Happy Chef Uniforms - I think their prices are great.

Not inspired to throw one of the theme parties above? Read on for more tips to create an at-home party that rocks. And be sure to share your tips for fun birthday parties for teens in the comments!

- By Sara Lyle

Want more mom-tested advice from Dawn and Elizabeth? Check out their work on Lifetime Moms' Parties & Entertaining channel.

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Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.