Maybe it’s your Sweet 16, or 18, or 21, and you’re not into the huge dance party that seems to fulfill everyone’s expectations of what an awesome party is. Maybe you’re like me and only care to have a few close friends at this special event. That kind of party is way more memorable and personal, and with less people, you can stretch your budget further.
Theme Park Par-tay
No matter where you are, there’s probably some kind of theme park decently close to you. You can also make it a road trip if you have somewhere special you’d love to go (even longer than overnight!) For the Harry Potter obsessees like myself, don’t be afraid to force your friends to chug butter beer, ride dragons, and buy wands all day. Get yourselves to Harry Potter World. You could even get really geeky and dress up as your favorite characters. Take lots of pictures, please.
Islands of Adventure/Universal Studios, Disneyworld, Disneyland, Six Flags, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens are all parks I love and recommend. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens in Florida even do combined deals and passes together since they’re reasonably close by.
You could stay in the theme park’s hotel if you prefer to be closer, or you can stay in one that’s just a short drive away that’s a bit cheaper.
If you live nearby a great park, some of your friends may already have passes, which could cut the cost a lot. There are often coupons and deals on their websites that you should look into as well!
As far as food goes, the food in most of these parks is expensive and not that delicious. I suggest packing some solid snacks and going out to a great place after you’re ready for a break from being upside down on the coasters. If you guys are going to get too hungry for this option, or firmly believe that park food is part of the experience, many of these parks also do meal pass deals as well as drink deals that can save you a lot of money. There are often one-day and several-day options. For example, here’s a link to Busch Gardens’ and SeaWorld’s meal deal.
The Royal Treatment (AKA a Girl's Fondest Dream)
Two words: spa party. You can make it as fancy or as simple as you like.
You could rent a limo for you and your close friends and get to the spa in style. Then come the nails, facials, massages, or whatever treatments you all love. Choose a spa location nearby a shop or something that your guests can go to if they finish their treatments earlier than other guests do. Ask your spa about group discounts.
You can end your party here by getting some great takeout and delicious dessert and renting a movie. A night in with the girls after a relaxing day always sounds good.
Orrrr you can pile everyone back into the limo to go get made up—let’s face it, your outward beauty doesn’t reflect your inner zen after a spa visitation. You can go shop for makeup and clothes or go get your makeup and hair done. You could set up an appointment and pay, or there are many mall makeup counters that offer makeovers for free. Mac and Sephora are two of those, and Estee Lauder offers them at times on Saturdays. Calling beforehand is safer. They’ll just try to sell you the makeup—but hey, it’s your birthday.
This epic makeover should be followed, of course, by going out to the birthday girl’s choice—a fancy dinner, a dance club, or a midnight movie premier.
This can obviously be a very expensive party—it can also be made a dirt-cheap one (or somewhere in the middle.) You could pay for everyone’s spa treatments, or you could offer to pay for everyone’s manicures, for example, and have them pay for anything else they might like to get done. You can do an at-home spa night even more cheaply: hire your mom and sister to do everyone’s nails, massages, and facials. Pizza isn’t too costly, and neither is a $1 Redbox rental.
If you’ve got an adventurous and sporty group of friends, there are so many cool races out there! Here are just a few, but make sure to research about what goes on in your area:
If you do a regular one-day event, you could go out to eat (carbo-load!) and stay somewhere the night before, or make it a post-event reward and do dinner and a hotel the night after. Or it can always be done at home.
Races like Ragnar are incredible because it is already a two-day deal. Although it would make for an exhausting birthday, it is always enjoyable and rewarding! Ragnar does require 12 runners plus volunteers—so if you have that many friends, that works great. If not, you can have one van of your friends and another van of your brothers’ friends, or your family members, or whomever.
For Ragnar, you’ll save some money by finding them volunteers for the race rather than paying the volunteer fee. You can also save money by using SUVs owned by friends or family members instead of renting vans.
Beach Resort Blowout
Pick the closest beach and make it a road trip (or a flight, if you’ve got one of those sweet budgets.) Imagine: you and your best friends lying in the sand and getting a tan, body surfing the waves, eating at an ocean side restaurant, ordering dessert straight to the hotel room, going for a late swim and sauna adventure, and passing out next to each other at 4 AM. Everyone will have fun dancing around and taking way too many photos.
Make sure to pick a good weekend based on the weather.
This one isn’t as expensive, because all that would need to be paid for would be gas and a hotel room or two.
There’s obviously lots of fun things to pay for to see in Vegas, like mind-blowing shows, but this one can also be impressively low-budget. Here’s a list of free things to do in Vegas:
Walk the strip and check everything out! Hours of fun!
Hope your party is one that you and your closest friends will never forget!