What comes to mind when you think of a Sweet Sixteen? An endearing father daughter dance? A lovely evening filled with laughter, friends, and decadent food? A family oriented affair? Think again. Sweet Sixteens have always found themselves at a rather discomforting intersection between girlish innocence and the adult party scene.
Sweet Sixteens can be fun, but their culture is changing. Too often Sweet Sixteens are an awkward combination of family, friends, teenage sass, and gaudy decorations all mashed together in an elegant ballroom or banquet space. In recent years I’ve found the emphasis on transforming the banquet room into a temporary club more prominent than ever. Instead of having a dance floor with a DJ playing family hits, Sweet Sixteens have taken a turn towards the dark, strobe light party atmosphere. Nobody can or ever will enjoy the scene of an 80 year old grandfather sitting at a party where his granddaughter and 100 of her hoodlum friends are grinding up against each other to the blaring rap music.
Please avoid this. The key is to map out, early on, what type of party your child is going for. Turning 16 is a big milestone and many families like to celebrate it, as they should! The issue arises when the party involves too many people from too many backgrounds. The truth is, while your daughter, or son, may want it all, all of it smashed into one party is a hazard for everyone involved. Drunk uncle Billy + crying baby cousin + math class Johnny + glitter up the wazoo may just be too much for everyone to handle at once.
In the end, try to find a middle-ground with the theme and ambiance of the party so some members, ahem, Gramps, won’t be terribly out of place. If your child is going for a dance party bash with all of her friends, then it might be better to have the party at venue like a teen club. More subdued family affairs will be great if celebrated at an upscale restaurant or at a small banquet space. If you still want to celebrate the birthday with everyone, have two parties! A night out of dancing for her and her friends and then a memorable dinner with the family another night.
The best party will happen when there is a singular focus and not a forced compilation of everything and everyone. Spare yourself and your child the drama of a jumbled up Sweet Sixteen. After all, there will always be the wedding to plan!