Birthday party ideas for 12-year-olds

So, you're looking for birthday party ideas for a 12-year-old? Lucky for you, we've got a whole bunch of them!

How many guests to invite?

The average 12-year-old has around 8-12 friends, so that's a good number to aim for when planning the guest list.

Where to go?

First, you'll need to decide on a location. A party at home is always a good option, but if you're looking for something a little more exciting, there are plenty of other places you can go. Bowling, the movies, and the park are all popular choices. If you want to go all out, amusement parks or even mini-golf can be a lot of fun.


Parks are a great place to have a birthday party. Unless you're planning on renting out an entire park for your little one, it's usually quite easy to rent the area you'd like for as long as you need (this means no other parties overlapping with yours). This is especially great if you want to plan some games and activities; you can do them all in that designated area and not worry about damage or space.

Mini golf:

A miniature golf course is always a fun option, and can be lots of fun with the right group! Even better, many courses will let you bring in your own cake and ice cream after hours; they'll even provide plates and cutlery if needed. Just make sure everyone knows to bring their wallets, as it can be a bit pricey to play.

Amusement parks:

If you're looking for a party that will excite and entertain your 12-year-old, an amusement park is a perfect place! Just be warned - these places can be quite expensive, so be prepared to spend a bit more than you would at other venues. However, the memories (and photos) made at an amusement park are priceless.


Bowling is always a great option for a birthday party - it's affordable, fun, and easy to do. Plus, many bowling alleys have arcades and other games available should anyone get bored of throwing balls down lanes. Just make sure you call ahead and reserve lanes for your party; otherwise, you might find the bowling alley packed.

Movie theatre:

Even better than a simple trip to the movies is a party at one! Many cinemas offer special room rentals and themed restaurant options, plus they'll provide plates and forks should you wish to order food from their menu. Plus, depending on which cinema you go to, it's possible that part of the birthday person's ticket price will be discounted or free! This can really add up fast.

The movie theatre at home

If you don't want to leave the house, that's perfectly understandable - and luckily, there are tons of great movie options that can be watched from the comfort of your couch. All you need is a DVD player, a big-screen TV, and some snacks. You could even make it a theme party by watching a particular series or movie (like Star Wars or The Avengers). Just make sure everyone has enough space to sit comfortably!

Ice cream party:

12-year-olds love ice cream, so why not throw them an ice cream party? This is a super easy option - all you need is a few tubs of ice cream, some cones or cups, and some decorations. You can either set up the party in your backyard or living room or if you'd like to get more creative, you can use your kitchen. Make sure you've got enough spoons and utensils for everyone (you may even want to invest in some cute party forks or colorful straws).

Ice rink:

There are lots of options for ice arenas if you want to throw an ice skating party. Depending on the time of year, you may be able to get a rink at your local park or recreation center, or you can check out public rinks in your area. If it's not too late in the season, many hockey teams also offer public open skates; these are usually great places to meet other kids who will appreciate the chance to let loose and have fun!


If your little one loves pizza, why not have a birthday party at the pizzeria? Just be prepared for lots of noise - most establishments with in-house seating aren't great with groups. However, if you just want to pick up some pies and head home, this is always an option!

Boardgame night:

It can be hard to gather 12-year-olds together for a board game night; however, that's no reason to give up on your favorite pastime as a kid! Get everyone around the table (or living room rug) and play board games like Monopoly, Apples To Apples, or Clue. You could even make it a New Year's Eve-themed party by playing Night Before Christmas.

What to do?

Once you've decided on a location, it's time to think about what activities you'll do. Some ideas include playing games like tag or charades, making crafts, or going on a hike or nature walk. You could also have a scavenger hunt or put together a puzzle. If you're looking for something a little less active, you could also play board games and cards. If your guests want to watch a movie or TV show, make sure it's one everyone will like.

Activity ideas: tag, charades, board games, cards, scavenger hunt, puzzle, nature walk/hike, bowling, skating rink, ice cream shop/cinema/ice rink.

Video games

Of course, you can't have a proper party for 12-year-olds without video games. Invite your guests to bring their consoles and play their favorite games. It's also possible to rent consoles from the local library if you'd rather not own one yourself - or you could make it a theme party with specific video game genres (like action or racing).

You can even invite some friends over to show off their competitive edge! This is great if you've got older kids who are willing to help keep things under control. If everyone goes home at the end of the night, just be sure that there are enough controllers for everyone.

Party favors

There are lots of fun options when it comes to party favors for 12-year-olds. You could give out party hats and noisemakers, or go for something a little more creative like temporary tattoos or silly glasses. If you're throwing a themed party, make sure the favors match - like star wars lightsabers or superhero masks. No matter what you choose, be sure to put them in goodie bags so that guests can take them home with them.

Theme parties

One great way to make a birthday party memorable is with a theme, and 12-year-olds are no exception! For instance, if you hire a magician for the evening, he or she could do a magic show followed by fun tricks involving audience participation. If your guests mostly play video games, why not host an old-school console party?

Your other option is to throw a New Year's Eve party instead of celebrating your child's birthday on December 23rd this year. Instead of bringing presents or handing out candy like at most other parties, you'll encourage guests to donate their time and money to charity as favors - there are lots of ways kids can give back this holiday season!

How to decorate your house?

If you're hosting a party at home, you'll need to put some effort into making it look fabulous. Most 12-year-olds won't notice much about your theme or color scheme, but they will appreciate the effort if the house looks great! Focus on centerpieces and other decorations that can be used as backdrops for pictures.

Centerpieces: balloons, flower petals spread out on tables, paper flowers, fairy lights

If you're going for a disco-style birthday party, why not create a dance floor right in the middle of the room? You could even turn off all other lights and change up your usual lighting to make things more exciting. Alternatively, string up colorful streamers from wall to wall and hang some fun Christmas ornaments. Just be sure to take them all down before the party's over!

Doing it on a budget?

If you're on a tight budget, there are plenty of different party games that are free or low-cost. You can do something simple like passing the parcel, where each layer of wrapping paper is another round of the game. Other options include Simon Says and Red Light, Green Light. They might be slightly more challenging for tweens, but they'll have some fun trying!

Another great idea for a budget-friendly celebration is to ask each guest to bring one toy to donate to kids in need. It's not only a great way to make sure everyone has a good time while doing something good for others, but it also means less planning - all you need is an extra bag or two!

How to plan the menu?

If you decided to celebrate at home, you should think about the menu for children.

Before you finalize your plans, think about what food you want to serve at the party. For kids this age, they probably aren't looking for anything too advanced (or messy!), so make sure whatever is on the menu is something everyone will like.

If you're planning a themed party, try to incorporate some of it in your meal - like making chicken nuggets shaped like stars or turkeys! You could also serve popcorn and juice boxes (remember to get red and blue ones), pretzels, candy corn (a popular choice), trail mix with M&Ms, or apple pie slices.

Healthy menu

Depending on how many kids you have coming, you might need to do some extra planning for a healthy menu.

If you're doing a themed party, try asking what types of foods your guests would like before you start planning the menu. For instance, if everyone is playing video games then serve all kinds of finger food that they can hold and eat as they play - like fruit or veggies with ranch dressing, mini quiches, bite-size pizzas, and candy corn (which doubles as decor).

It doesn't hurt to ask parents ahead of time what they think their child will prefer!

Don't forget the cake

Now that you've got all your other party plans sorted, it's time to think about what kind of birthday cake to get. While a store-bought cake is always an option, why not make your own? You can choose from lots of different recipes and even get creative with the icing! Just remember - someone will have to do clean-up afterward!

Chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry?

Deciding which flavor to get for a birthday cake is a tough choice! Remember that guests will have different tastes, so you might want to pick two flavors and allow people to choose

Healthy cake for your child

If you're looking for a healthier cake alternative, there are lots of recipes online that use healthier ingredients like fruit and vegetables. You can also get creative with frosting options like yogurt or avocado. These cakes might not look as pretty as traditional cakes, but they'll definitely taste good!

Gluten-free, sugar-free, or lactose-free?

If you have guests with food allergies, it's always a good idea to ask which ingredients they're allergic to. That way, there will be something they can eat! Remember that gluten-free and lactose-free might mean the cake is also sugar-free.


Once you've decided on the date, time, and location of the party, it's time to start sending out invitations!

There are lots of different ways to do this - like through social media, Evites, or even good old-fashioned mail. If you're looking for something more creative, some stores like Michaels have a range of different invitation kits that you can choose from.

It's your party

No matter where you decide to go or what you plan on doing for your child's birthday, make sure everyone has fun! It won't be much of a celebration if no one gets to enjoy themselves! Make any necessary adjustments until you've got everything just right - then get ready for an awesome time!