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How to Host a Killer Dinner Party for Your Tween's Birthday

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As your little one blooms into a tween, you need to find a birthday theme that's not too young, but not too adult, to celebrate their special day. Tweens love food, so why not host a birthday dinner party?

For tweens, it's better than seeing another movie at the theater or having a sleepover. It's adult enough to make them feel special, but not overly sophisticated, and possesses endless potential for adaptability, from themed foods for their favorite TV show to a fancy shindig complete with twinkly lights. Help your tween throw a killer dinner party for their birthday with these guidelines.

1. Show Their Style

For this very special evening, encourage young guests to dress up in casual cocktail attire, like a character from a favorite TV show or in ‘90s fashion. Tweens love to showcase their style, and now's the perfect opportunity to impress the birthday host.

2. Give It a Little Flair

While you don't have to go all out for decorations, give your tween's party a little extra flair with battery-operated candles or twinkly lights, elegant, yet simple tablecloths and a preset table with small wildflower arrangements. If it’s a spring birthday, make flower crowns for guests to wear.

You could also do an adult spin of a tea party, with more finger foods and a Mad Hatter theme. Look up the various properties of tea, like how lavender relaxes you, and share these with the group if your kid is a nature lover and tea drinker. Remember, all the china must mismatch.

3. Keep Meals Classic and Easy

Get a little fancy with fruit and cheese or fried mushrooms for the appetizers, but keep the main entrées classic kid favorites — from mac and cheese to sliders. Order a big tray of sushi from a restaurant. Or, why not create a pizza or burger bar, where they curate their own toppings or ingredients?

Still feel lost? Plan a perfect, easy buffet by choosing three items to make from scratch and three or four appetizers to buy at the grocery store.

It's also easy to serve finger foods and entrées as a small family-style setting, so the intimacy of a dinner party among friends remains — but picky eaters can graze on their preferences. Don't forget to ask about dietary needs and allergies in advance.

Tweenhood is the time of braces, so be conscious of providing food choices that won't get stuck in teeth. Crunchy foods are notorious for dislodging braces, which can contribute to slower treatment and a need for another appointment. Avoid meats on the bone, like chicken wings, in favor of softer foods like pasta.

4. Self-Serve Beverages

Most parties are simple — you have a cooler full of canned and bottled drink choices — but a tween dinner party is a little different. Have an assortment of sparkling cider, teas and water choices, or if the theme is more retro, root beer and cream soda can be classy and tasty, especially over ice cream for dessert.

As guests get thirsty throughout the occasion, let them serve themselves. Section off a small table or area for the beverage station.

5. Let Them Mingle

Adults like to get acquainted with others at a party, especially those they don't know. Tweens are the same way — let them mingle and make friends.

If you expect a larger group, the dining room can be your out-of-the-way appetizer meet-and-mingle hub while you clear the living room or outdoor area for a picnic-style dinner party. Tables and chairs are easy to borrow or rent.

Sectioning off different areas by party purpose this way gives you space and time to make sure the next phase is perfect — no bumping into tweensters while trying to unfold a table.

6. Games Are In

Today's tweens own their nerdiness and love board games and other party games. Consider games like the wordy card game Apples to Apples or a boxed version of Would You Rather? Don't forget games that come conveniently on apps, such as celebrity trivia.

Tweens also don't mind hanging out and chatting. Don't over-entertain them, but have a few backups just in case.

7. Your Kid's Party

Remember, this is your kid's special day, and they're in the spotlight, not you. As much as you mean well by hovering, don't make like Casper and float about trying to insert yourself into the festivities. You're there to button up the details and keep the catering aspects handled, which will also reduce cleaning time later.

Your tween will have the best birthday when they get to host a killer dinner party on their terms. You're there to help cultivate the atmosphere of fun and help make their first dinner party flow without issue.

It'll create a wonderful memory your tween and their friends may carry on for years to come, in high school and into college when they get together years later.

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