How to celebrate a teen birthday?

How do you celebrate a teen birthday without breaking your budget, especially during the wet, cold months when a picnic in the park isn’t an option? For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children follow this blog or get my book Homemade Kids, out of the library. This post is from www.nicolabaird.com

Les MIserables is the world's longest running musical. If your child gets into it they may learn to sing, develop an interest in politics and even read Victor Hugo's massive classic. Or not!

Les Miserables is the world’s longest running musical. If your child gets into it they may learn to sing, develop an interest in politics and even read Victor Hugo’s massive classic. Or they may not!

Significant birthdays can cause the indecisive agonies over how to celebrate. For your own 18th and 21st maybe you went a bit mad – many of us had a lot of school or college friends to celebrate with…

But what do you as the parent encourage a 16-year-old to do? Or how about someone just entering their teens as a 13-year-old?

Ready to enjoy the birthday cake her big sister made - after the sleepover.

Ready to enjoy the birthday cake her big sister made – after the sleepover.

Have a go gifts
I think experience presents, or even experience activities for a few of your child’s friends, are the way to go. Modern teens are very happy to do sleepovers – to eat (maybe even make) pizza and cake and then blitz on films before settling down to a broken night’s sleep. But the guests invariably have their phones glued to them, it’s as if they can’t really be fully present in the room without half their attention on a game or instagram.

Phones down
That’s why taking a small group outside their comfort zone (and mobile range) – for a judo or tai chi lesson, a whirl around a skating rink or a have-a-go session on a climbing wall can be a generous present.

So could an afternoon at a treetops adventure centre, like GoApe in the UK, or a session segwaying (a two-wheeled electric scooter).

Les Mis Kidz club attendees with member of the cast Sarah xx.

Les Mis Kidz club attendees with member of the cast Sarah Lark (ensemble) giving the thumbs up.

The drawback is these are expensive options, because you’re paying for your child’s friends too. You may also have to also organise minibus transport.

This year my budget is tight so I didn’t want to organise anything over £100, which ruled out a group have-a-go party. To be truthful I was utterly stuck for my oldest daughter, thinking Amazon voucher it will be, until I sat beside two out-of-work young actors on a train to Colchester in Essex in early December. A bit rudely I thought they’d be happy to talk to a stranger, and might be brilliant on ideas about what to get for a teenager who adored the musical Les Miserables. And they were. Their ideas included:

Poster from ebay (total spend about £1 plus postage)

Trip to a theatre book shop (£5-£50 or your choice of limit)

Backstage tour and the show at The Mis Kidz Club (£35 +£20 show ticket)

Turns out the The Mis Kidz Club is for 8-16 year olds, although a lot of the dozen children who go for a one-off Saturday morning are on the younger side. “Think of this as an advantage,” I told my 15-year-old, “You can help the little ones and get to sing the best parts…”

Best of all the ticket wasn’t a bank breaker: it cost £35. As an extra treat you could buy £20 (or less), ie, cheap tickets for the Saturday matinee for the Kidz Club child and their family. My daughter was told about this present at Christmas, but didn’t get to use it for another month – the first date when their were places available. She didn’t seem to mind, in fact the build up was as enjoyable as the going, a lovely example of delayed gratification in action.

The deal involves dressing up, getting a backstage tour, meeting a cast member and doing an improvised show. For any theatre fan, Les Miserables obsessive or budding singer this is a fantastic treat.

The Éponine or Fantine option
But what Lola really loved was heading to the stage door after the show to get the casts’ autographs. And the lovely Les Miserables cast seemed happy to oblige their fangirls! So if the Kidz Club sounds like an expensive faff (though it wasn’t it was fabulous!), but you have a theatre addict remember that stage door option…

Lola meets the cast after Les Mis - what lovely folk they are, so talented and happy to say hello to their fans inbetween the matinee and the evening show.

Lola meets Carrie Hope Fletcher (Éponine) after Les Mis – what lovely folk they are, so talented and happy to say hello to their fans inbetween the matinee and the evening show.

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ABOVE: Tam Mutu (Javert) signs outside Les Mis,Queen’s Theatre. BELOW: Rob Houchen (Marius – possibly the best one ever).

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Over to you
What ideas do you have – especially during the wet, cold months – to help teens or younger children celebrate their birthdays in a memorable way, without breaking the bank?

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2 Comments on “How to celebrate a teen birthday?”

  1. KathrynH Says:

    What a great idea – we’ve just celebrated a 12th birthday with a simple party/disco in the function room of our local pub. Together we created a playlist for her and her friends to dance to and on the evening they organised impromptu dancing competitions. When they get older it is so nice not to have to worry about party bags etc. But they do eat more and I hadn’t factored in that cost…

    • homemadekids Says:

      Hi Kathryn, thanks for your reply – very good point about the kids eating more! Love the idea that you did the playlist together, sounds a fun project whether there is a party coming up or not. Nicola


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