From Tween to Teen!
We recently celebrated this girl hitting a milestone birthday! Planning a 13th birthday party for girls is so fun, especially with the help of my party planning SIL, Stephanie. She did amazing putting our patio and decor together for the event. Emma had requested a backyard movie party, similar to her sister’s 13th birthday party. We had a place to start from, but also wanted to make this party unique and special for her. She picked coral and turquoise for her colors and the theme was Shabby Chic. We lucked out because we could use decor from her bedroom, which had already been repurposed from her younger sister’s birthday party.
Because she’s a Cinco de Mayo baby, a Taco Bar was the perfect dinner menu. I had recently received a fun promo box from Litehouse Foods, so we used their Guacamole seasoning, which was so easy and delicious! We also tried their new Freeze Dried Jalepenos. They smelled incredibly fresh and added some great kick to the tacos. Plus, there’s no chopping to do! No more wearing gloves or accidentally getting pepper juice in my eye! ;0)
I provided corn and flour tortillas, and made both ground beef taco meat and shredded chicken (Put chicken breasts in Instant Pot, slow cooked for four hours, shredded it then added taco seasoning and a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles.) We also had several traditional taco toppings like cheese, cilantro, sour cream and salsa, along with a bowl of lettuce and tortilla chips for those who wanted a salad.
For dessert, she requested Orange Cream Bundt Cakes. MJ made them semi-homemade by starting with a white cake mix. She added the zest and juice of two small oranges, along with vanilla and orange extract. They were topped with homemade whipped cream and a little zest.
One of her guests is allergic to gluten, so we made these delicious Flourless Black Bean Muffins. Yes, I said black beans. They were incredible!! They aren’t super sweet and have a real dark chocolate flavor. These truly might be my new favorite chocolate treat recipe.
The girls played volleyball in the yard, painted their nails, had a little sheep show practice, and watched Mary Poppins Returns. Originally we’d planned for an outdoor movie, but after several attempts, we ended up having to move inside. It ended up a little chilly anyway. We just piled the mattresses, pillows and blankets in the living room for a big slumber party.
Instead of gifts, the girls were asked to bring a canned food donation for our local food bank. Yes, we were celebrating her birthday, but we also We wanted this to be a chance for E to spend time with some good friends having fun!
It was a fun afternoon/evening for our daughter and her friends.
Party Planning Tips
I love to entertain, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I still stress a bit about it. Here are a few things I learned from another successful party…
Time-Make sure you plan an appropriate amount of time. For her sister, we only scheduled three hours, which wasn’t enough time. This time we did four, and it was better. It gave the kids a chance to just hang out and goof around before any scheduled activities, especially because we were going to watch a two-hour movie. For traditional birthday parties, where we just have dinner, dessert and gifts, two hours usually works out great.
Decor-Don’t be afraid to use what you have or to keep it simple. I kind of get a kick out of taking items we have and being able to re-purpose them over and over again in different ways to entertain. It also helps that my party planning helper has an amazing eye for this kind of thing. She gets the credit for pulling all my ideas and items together for this 13th birthday party for girls. I try to decide ahead of time what’s most important for the event—if decor plays a major role in it, then I may purchase some additional items. For example, I opted to use E’s quilt as part of the photo booth backdrop versus buying one, but we did purchase new colored paper lanterns to match the party colors. They added a fun pop of color to the string lights.
Menu-Because we were doing her party at night, I wanted to provide dinner to the kids. I picked an easy meal that could be customized by each guest. For MJ’s party, we did a chili bar (hers was in the fall). A baked potato bar or even make your own pizzas would be fun too. My son wanted snack food for his last birthday party, so we did pizza rolls, fruit, veggies and chips. For family events, pulled pork (that can be made ahead of time) or even grilling hamburgers and hot dogs works well for a crowd. We had also planned to make s’mores, but when the party moved inside, the fire pit and s’mores station didn’t. This brings me to my next point…
Be flexible-Plans change. We ended up with a pile of mattresses and girls in our house, but it turned out just fine. The kids still had a great time! I haven’t done a lot of parties just for fun; they usually revolve around a special occasion, like a gender reveal, birthday or baby shower. And because of that, I tend to get a little excited about all the possibilities with what I can serve (the food is my jam), and what all we can do. I’ve realized figuring out what’s most important to the guest of honor that day helps me rein in all my ideas, and also….I just need to have more parties! There is something special about getting together with people you love and really connecting.