Sweet 16 themes

It’s finally here — the birthday you’ve been waiting for since you started high school. Sixteen can come with a lot of new privileges. Maybe your parents have finally agreed to stop calling you their “little baby” and start treating you like an adult. Or maybe you’re so ready to borrow the car and cruise with your friends. Whatever changes lie ahead of you, a 16th birthday is a great reason to throw a big bash!

But your sweet 16 can also come with a lot of pressure to throw the perfect party — especially if your friends had over-the-top 16th birthday parties. Just remember that it’s more important for your celebration to be perfectly you than perfect.

A themed party is a great way to express your personality and create an event to remember — whether you host it at a fancy party venue or in your own backyard. Plus, once you pick a party theme, everything from your party decorations to your birthday invitations will fall into place.

We’ve rounded up our favorite sweet 16 themes to make your party planning easier. We’ve got ideas for every personality and every budget so you can pick your favorite and start planning.

A Dozen Sweet 16 Themes for Your Big Day

Cupcakes, cookies, birthday party themes — all things sweet seem to come by the dozen. So we’ve rounded up a dozen sweet 16 themes, complete with matching invites and tips for planning, decorating, and partying in style.

1. Sugary Sweet 16

Sweet 16 themes: Sugary Sweet 16 invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Colin Cowie

It is your sweet 16, so why not celebrate with all things sweet? You can host a costume party and encourage guests to dress up as characters from Candyland or Strawberry Shortcake. Or just set up an elaborate dessert table complete with candy, cupcakes, and donuts.

Add some fun party games with a cookie decorating contest or a blind taste test where guests have to guess what kind of candy they’re eating. For party favors, send everyone home with some cookie cutters. Or, create a DIY party favor by putting the dry ingredients for your favorite baked good into a mason jar. Include instructions, and your guests can add their own eggs and butter when they bake.

Matching invite: Rainbow Sprinkles

2. Hawaiian Luau 

Sweet 16 themes: Hawaiian Luau invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Loree Mayer Design

For any birthday girl or boy who prefers bathing suits to ball gowns, a luau is the perfect casual party idea. Hand out leis as your guests arrive, and host your party poolside.

You can have a pig roast, serve vegetarian pineapple fried rice, order poke bowls, or try your hand at any number of traditional Hawaiian recipes. Hollow out some pineapples or young coconuts, and serve virgin piña coladas.

For entertainment, create a playlist of your favorite ukulele music, hire a hula dance instructor, or have a hula hoop competition. (P.S. hula hoops and grass skirts also make great party favors.)

Matching invite: It’s a Luau!

3. Parisian Romance

Sweet 16 themes: Parisian Romance invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Patrice Horvath Design

This is one of the most timeless sweet 16 themes (Audrey Hepburn would approve!), and it’s the perfect excuse to wear a beret and go all out with your party decor. We’re picturing Parisian stripes and pom pom garland, tiered dessert tray centerpieces full of petit four, and a birthday cake topped with a tiny Eiffel Tower.

Paris is the perfect city to inspire a party menu. Start with some fine French cheese, or be truly authentic by serving your cheese course after the main course and before dessert. Find out which friends are brave enough to try escargot, or opt for French street food by setting up a crêpe station and serving Croque monsieur (a fancy fried cheese sandwich with ham).

The birthday girl or boy may not be able to drink fine French champagne yet, but a sparkling French lemonade makes a lovely virgin bubbly. As a sweet reminder of your sweet 16, send guests home with some macarons.

Matching invite: Ooh La La

4. Hollywood Glamor

Sweet 16 themes: Movie night invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Claudia Owen

Speaking of Audrey Hepburn, why not channel her most iconic movie with a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” theme? (You can decorate everything in Tiffany blue!) Or host an Oscar-worthy red carpet event and ask guests to wear their most glam attire.

Be debonair with a 007 event, or sit on your own Iron Throne with a “Game of Thrones” theme. Honestly, between all your favorite movies and TV shows, Hollywood has given us too many birthday party ideas to count.

Movie trivia is an ideal party game for a Hollywood theme party, and you can have prizes for the winners. For a little background entertainment, you can project famous movie scenes onto a screen or central wall. If you decide to build your party theme around a specific movie or TV show, project that movie to jog everyone’s memory as they celebrate.

Matching invite: Classic Movie Night

5. All Glown Up

Sweet 16 themes: Spa party invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Claudia Owen

Plan some pampering with a glow-up party. Have your best friends join you for a spa day. Hang out in a steam room or sauna, get mani-pedis, have your hair and makeup done, and spend your day going glam.

Or create a DIY home spa day with some of the simplest party supplies ever — a few eggs, some yogurt, and a couple cucumbers gives you everything you need for homemade hair and face masks.

​Plan to have a fashion show afterward or go out to a nice restaurant so you don’t end up all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Matching invite: Painted Hibiscus

6. Masquerade Ball

Sweet 16 themes: Masquerade ball invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Signature Greenvelope

A masquerade ball may sound more like a Mardi Gras party than a sweet 16 theme, but this glamorous event is perfect for any birthday girl or boy who loves costumes, music, and dancing.

For a traditional masquerade, take your inspiration from Venice. Venetian balls used to feature live string quartets, but you can modernize this idea with music from the Vitamin String Quartet (this group makes instrumental versions of pop and hip hop songs).

Hire carnival performers who can juggle or walk on stilts, have a glass blowing demonstration or set up a station where guests can decorate their own Venetian masks.

Italy is also a great place to look for food inspiration. Create virgin cocktails based on the Aperol Spritz or bellini, and end on a sweet note with a classic Italian dessert like tiramisu.

Matching invite: Masquerade Ball

7. Slumber Party 

Slumber party invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Kate Ross Design

We don’t care if you’re a 6-year-old, 16-year-old, or 60-year-old — you’re never too old for a slumber party. A slumber party lets you trade in your party dress for cozy PJs and uncomfy heels for super-soft slippers.

It’s a chance to order takeout, watch girly movies, paint your nails, play truth or dare, and share all the latest gossip. You can keep the night moving along by playing slumber party games, but getting all your girlfriends together might provide all the entertainment you need.

Matching sleep masks make adorable party favors for your sweet 16 slumber party.

Matching invite: Starry Pajama Party

8. Karaoke Dance Party

Karaoke dance party invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Claudia Owen

For any birthday girl or boy who can belt it out, host a karaoke party. Everyone can dress like their favorite rock stars and sing or dance to their favorite songs (bonus points if they do both!).

This birthday celebration will remind everyone not to take things too seriously. The evening is all about having fun and having a few laughs.

You can host it at a party venue where you and your friends can have your own karaoke room (just like in Japan), or you can order a karaoke machine and blast some tunes in your basement. Either way, it’s sure to be a party people remember. And since it will already be so memorable, you might want to ask your guests to check their phones at the door. That way, there will be no videos for your friends to blackmail each other with!

Matching invite: Karaoke Night

9. Circus Arts Extravaganza

Circus arts invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Becky Nimoy Stationery

This is one of our favorite theme ideas. Circus arts are enchanting to watch, so you can hire a juggler or an acrobat to entertain the crowd at your party. But basic acrobatics can be easier than you think. For the truly adventurous, plan a party where you and your besties get ready to run away with the circus. (Well, sort of.)

There are classes in aerial silks, trapeze, and tight rope walking. You won’t have to worry about falling — with the safety nets, that can be the most fun part.

After you put your acrobatic skills to the test, you can celebrate with classic carnival food — kettle corn, funnel cakes, and fried Twinkies.

Matching invite: Come One, Come All

10. Pizza Making Party

Pizza party invitation by Greenvelope

Design: frau brandt

Pizza might sound a little informal for a sweet 16 party (after all, you’ve had that literally every other year of your life), but a pizza-making party lets you take your love of pizza to the next level.

With this theme, the activity is built right in. All your friends will have something fun to do, and watching them try to throw their pizza dough will provide lots of free entertainment. (Just make sure the floors are clean!) At the end of the evening, you all end up with a delicious meal.

You can do this at a professional cooking school — which will come with the benefit of a real pizza oven — or you can cook your pizzas in your oven or on your grill. This party theme is perfect for all the teen foodies and future master chefs out there.

Matching invite: Margherita Pizza

11. Splatter Paint Party

Paint party invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Jen Montgomery

Have your guests leave their best party clothes at home, and ask them to wear plain white tees instead (or any outfit they’re not afraid to ruin). With a splatter paint party, you’ll order paint in every color of the rainbow then spend the day throwing it at your friends.

For a nighttime event, get glow-in-the-dark paint or order black lights. (The white T-shirts with the blacklight will make everything light up except the paint splatters.) You can also splatter paint on a large backdrop and use it as a makeshift photo booth once you and your guests are covered in paint.

This sweet 16 theme works best outside or in another easy-to-clean space. And as far as food goes … just make sure to keep it out of the splatter zone.

Matching invite: Pastel Party

12. Fairytale Ending

Fairytale party invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Signature Greenvelope

What birthday girl hasn’t dreamed of being Cinderella for the day? For an elaborate sweet 16 party, arrive in a horse-drawn carriage. Or, for a backyard bash, transform your outdoor space into an enchanted garden party (include string lights for a little extra magic).

Add bling to your outfit with a sparkling tiara, and bring along some animal friends — like an adorable deer sculpture or mice figurines and mini pumpkins for centerpieces. For fairytale-inspired party games, have guests try on a glass slipper and give a prize to anyone it fits. Or, play a game of pin the braid on Rapunzel.

To add a dramatic fairytale ending to your sweet 16, host the party the night before your birthday. When the clock strikes midnight, you won’t turn into a pumpkin, but you will turn 16!

Matching invite: Once Upon a Time

How Sweet It Is

Your sweet 16 theme should be a reflection of who you are. Think about your favorite things and let that guide you. Whether you have a favorite hobby, movie, or style, you can find digital invitations, party games, and decorations to match.

Plan the activities that sound like the most fun to you. Invite your favorite people, serve your favorite food, and your 16th birthday party will be one you’ll remember for years to come. Before you get wrapped up in party planning, let us be the first to wish you a happy birthday!