Tween party themes

Oct 15, 2009 at 1:25 p.m. ET

Not a child, not quite a teen, these tween party themes are perfect for almost-teens.

Tween girl at birthday party

Ah, the joyous tween years, when everything you say is met with an eye roll, when every suggestion you offer is immediately shot down, when you find yourself struggling to remember just why you became a parent in the first place.

Even if some days it seems that the last thing you want to do is plan a party for the child who makes you crazy on a daily basis, you can actually use a party as an opportunity to impress your tween. Break out some of these ideas and see if the ice king or queen melts a little.

Great for girls

A hot theme for tween girls right now is Twilight, the hit series penned by Stephenie Meyer. It's simple to order decorations online and you can easily whip up some vampire-inspired food and drinks — Hawaiian Punch, Shirley Temples, melted white chocolate (add red food coloring) in a fondue pot for dipping, red velvet cupcakes, red apples — you get the idea.

Invite guests to come dressed as their favorite characters. Play Twilight trivia — you can find plenty of questions and answers online. Create a playlist of Twilight music and set up a slideshow of your favorite stills for background ambiance. Go for candles instead of harsh lighting. Of course, you can also screen the DVD for late night entertainment.

Best for boys

Want to give your tween son a party he'll remember forever? Consider going with a Survivor or Fear Factor theme. You can create challenges for the boys — reaching into a box of bugs to retrieve a hidden object, building a structure from random objects you provide or eating something a little outside their comfort zone. Obviously, you don't want to put the kids in actual danger, but you can have a lot of fun planning the activities and carrying them out. Aim for a mix of individual and team challenges.

Make sure you tell your guests to dress appropriately and talk to the other parents ahead of time to make sure everyone's on board with your idea.

Mix it up

A boy-girl party can be a lot of fun for tweens. Split the kids into two groups and hire two limos to take them on a scavenger hunt in your town. Give each team a disposable digital camera (or let them use their phones) to document their journey and a list of items to find or tasks to complete. Give them a set amount of time and send them off to enjoy cruising around the streets in a fancy car. For safety, send a parent in each car as well.

Put a little bit of effort into your tween's party, and you might even catch a glimpse of the kid you remember.