Oh to be 16 again! Driver’s license on my birthday. A cake shaped like a sports car. Lots of friends. I remember it well. However, it wasn’t the big deal it is today. Here are some frequently asked questions about Sweet 16 parties that might assist you in your plans:

What should I do first for my Sweet 16?
Create a budget! This is most important. The type of party you have, the type of music (DJ, band, iPod with speakers)—all depend on how much money you have to spend.

What should I consider in my Sweet 16 party budget?
Let’s work backwards.
  • Make a guest list. This will help you determine whether you should have it at home, in a party room, in a hotel ballroom, at the country club or some other establishment.
  • Determine your music/entertainment. You may want to spend more on a certain DJ or band leaving you with less to spend on other things. The music is most important at your Sweet 16!
  • Find a venue (a place to host your Sweet 16). If you’re hosting the party at home, read no further. If not, you’ll need to find the perfect place which may take a little research. Ask for a menu and pricing so you can start calculating the number of people that may attend. If you are reserving a party room like those mentioned above, remember to ask if there’s a room charge. Many places cancel the room charge if you are serving dinner. You want to make sure there are no hidden charges. Don’t forget to ask if they include the tablecloths and the napkins. And don’t forget to add tax and gratuity (tip).
These are the necessities for your Sweet 16. After you have an idea of your expenses for the above, you can begin making plans. Whatever is left over in your budget after food and entertainment is subtracted can be spent on your invitations, dress, favors, decor and more!

Can I host my Sweet 16 at a restaurant and ask my friends to pay their own way?
You can, but it’s in poor taste. On the other hand, if one of your friends decides to host the party in your honor, she can always ask everyone to pitch in.

Do I have to invite my whole class to my Sweet 16?
Always a quandary. First and foremost, let’s not forget your family. And friends can be from school, from camp, from church or temple or any other extra-curricular activities. But keep it under control while being considerate of those who might feel left out. It’s a touchy subject; be nice.

Should I open my gifts during the party?
Depends on what is going on. If you have a band or a DJ, you might not want to stop your Sweet 16 in the middle and start opening gifts. You’ll lose your momentum, and it’s exciting for you but not always the guests that have to watch. Your call.

What are the most popular Sweet 16 themes?
Cinderella is huge. A club theme, Hollywood/Red Carpet, spa and casino are also at the top of the list. Just as appropriate would be choosing something that reflects your interests (e.g., Broadway).

Are balloons too juvenile for a Sweet 16?
Balloons used to be just balloons. Today, they are an art form. There are so many choices. Recently, I did a rose theme for a Sweet 16, and I covered the ceiling with 36” Mylar rose balloons. We needed very little else, and it wasn’t as expensive as formal lighting and flowers.

Should I have an autograph board or sign in book at my Sweet 16?
Sign in boards tend to be fun while you’re there and a cute sign-in board that goes with your theme doubles as decor. However, a sign in book with a cover all about you will last forever. Consider pasting digital photos of each friend that signs to make your Sweet 16 memories more meaningful (or you may forget that Betty Jo was the blonde girl in the floral dress way above her knees!)...