Fun 18th birthday ideas to celebrate his special milestone

18th Birthday Party Ideas

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18th Birthday Party Ideas, Please

Help! I'm having trouble coming up with ideas for my eldest son's 18th birthday, coming up in a few months. As this is a milestone in his life I want to do something special for him, but money is a problem. Do any readers have any suggestions that will make this birthday something to remember?

Favorite Memories Idea

One idea for such a milestone event as an 18th birthday, 50th anniversary, graduation, wedding or baby is to send out a page for a scrapbook with the invitations. The guests can write their favorite story about the birthday boy, advice for the new mom or memories of the anniversary couple and bring it to the party. Then at the party, assemble the book. Long after the balloons are flat and no one remembers the main course, that book will be treasured over all.

Remember Your Youth Party

My own son is only 18 months, but I'm already planning his 18th B-day party! This will only work if your son has a good sense of humor and doesn't get embarrassed too easily. But my idea is to do a "Remember your youth" theme.

I plan to decorate the house with tons of pictures of him from the moment of birth onward. We'll have the guests play games from childhood (musical chairs, pin the tail on the donkey, etc.). We'll have a pinata. There will be a Barney or Elmo (or similar) cake. We'll entertain the guests with stories of some of the funny things he did as a kid, not to mention videos.

We may even give him a few toys as gag gifts! You get the idea. Of course, none of this really costs much money. You can even make the cake yourself! And if you want to serve a meal, you could stick to kids food there such as pizza, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, hot dogs & macaroni and cheese, etc., none of which cost all that much.

Related: Homemade Ice Cream Cake Recipes

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have a wonderful party and that he remembers it for years to come.

Picnic and Scrapbook Party

In answer to 'Birthday Bash' request for ideas for her son's upcoming 18th birthday party, here is a great one: I used the following theme for my daughter's high school graduation with outstanding results. We had a picnic, using the local 'residents only' park in our townhouse development. Given that the weather in the Bay Area is great in June and it was a Saturday afternoon (my cousin went early and staked out the area of the park we wanted), we saved on the cost of renting a space elsewhere. Everybody was instructed to come either with a photo or memory of my daughter's time in high school. One of the picnic tables was set up with all the makings of a scrapbook. There was the scrap book itself, pens, colored pencils, crayons, markers, glue sticks, stencils, stamps, glitter, colored construction paper, old magazines, all manner of art supplies. What I didn't have on hand I borrowed from my cousin who is a very crafty person and therefore the owner of all sorts of art supplies!

Also a friend loaned us camera. As people arrived, they spent time at the 'scrap book table' creating a memory page for my daughter. If they didn't have a photo, we took one (usually with the grad). The scrap books theme provided not only entertainment but also it really made the party a huge hit. Nobody, not any of her macho young male friends or even the 'grown ups' could resist creating a page of their own. Some people wrote poems, others thoughts about the future, many of her friends brought a copy of their senior picture to include and some recorded old memories and new wishes but no matter what they did, everyone enjoyed the opportunity to express their thoughts to the grad in such a fun, creative fashion.

As the writer of the family, my 'artistic' contribution to the scrapbook was a very professional, computer generated, four-page, four-color newsletter with stories and news items about the grad. The cost was minimal since I used digital photos I already had and printed out copies of the newsletter on my color printer at home. It took time but the results were worth it. I also wrote a very official looking press release to go along with the newsletter so everyone would have a keepsake of his or her own to take home with them.

To save on the cost of food, I made a number of salads and finger foods based on in-season ingredients and created a sandwich tray with assorted meats, cheeses and condiments. I also set up an ice cream bar for dessert, which was not only easy but also surprisingly inexpensive. All you really need are a couple of large generic tubs of vanilla and chocolate ice cream and some toppings. I bought the cherries, whip cream and butterscotch and chocolate toppings but the favorites turned out to be my homemade fruit jams! The ice cream bar also helped get rid of all the stray candy we had in the pantry. I bought drinks at a local warehouse, which cut the costs even further. All in all, it was a great party and my daughter not only came away with a wonderful memory of the party itself but a lasting memory in the form of a great scrapbook created by friends and family.

Personalized Birthday Card

We recently celebrated the 18th birthday of our friend's daughter. We took a flat sheet and spray painted "Happy Birthday Beth!" Then we all personally signed it with a permanent marker. The little ones traced their hands, since they couldn't write. We hung it on the front porch for everyone to see. She, Beth, really liked it and now has a keepsake.

Gift of Wisdom

Here's a very special 18th birthday gift we gave our eldest son. We sent a letter to about 15 men who had an influence, or meant a lot to our son. This letter asked them to write him a letter giving him advice for his future, reflections on their relationship to our son, qualities and traits he has or should pursue, advice, instruction, or expectations on the subject of "manhood".

We told them: "You are one of the men Aaron and I (my husband wrote the letter) know and respect and I want Aaron to benefit from the wisdom each of you posses." Then we compiled all the letters in a notebook with page protectors and gave it to him on his 18th birthday. He was very impressed that so many men from his past took time to write their thoughts to him (especially the 6th grade teacher!). We got letters from friends we had moved away from, his 6th grade teacher, former pastor, grandfathers, etc.

If you want to read further about this idea, we got it from the book Raising a Modern-Day Knight by Robert Lewis.

Easy and Fun Party

I asked our church if we could use their hall for a party when my son turned 18. They let us use it free of charge since we are members there. My biggest cost was soda and snacks and most of the snacks were not even eaten. I made a big cake, but a lot of that was leftover, as well. So I could have spent 1/2 of what I did!

One of my son's friends brought a sound-system and they brought CD's to play. We set up the church's tables and put candles on them, and since it was a big space, lots of dancing and acrobatics went on.

I brought a roll of paper and markers and made a "graffiti wall" for the kids to write on. All-in-all-I could not have spent more than $40 (USA) It was lots of fun and I was surprised how little it took for fifteen 18-year-olds to have a good time.

Birthday "Survivor" Party

I was in the same position for my teenage daughter about to turn 15. The idea we came up with was Survivor. I don't know if they broadcast the Survivor series in Australia, but the series was filmed in the Outback last year. For those unfamiliar with it, 16 people are "stranded" somewhere in the world (an island was one setting and the Outback another) and have to face challenges to stay. They are divided up into two tribes that eventually merge when only a few people are left in each tribe. People who are unable to meet the challenges and work with their teammates are voted off the show. The ultimate survivor wins a million dollars.

Anyway, the invitation challenged her friends to face the "terrors" of her 15th birthday party and be the ultimate party survivor. We used inexpensive island-theme stationary for the invitations and put bug stickers all over them for added silliness. She named her two tribes Poopanella and Scaramunga. When the tribes merged, they became Unga-Bunga. Both tribes had rubber chicken mascots that they had to "hunt" for in the first challenge. They named one chicken Hugh and the other Jass so that when the tribes merged, the chicken names would merge as well, and become one (well, you can figure that one out!).

I found leopard skin print fabric in wild colors in the bargain rack of the local fabric store and made bandanas for both tribes. I made a dozen cool bandanas and had enough leftover fabric for decorations, tablecloths, plate and basket liners for munchies, etc. I only spent $4 for the fabric and the place looked totally wild and tropical. Even the rubber chickens had their own little bandanas. The bandanas were also party favors and the kids loved them. Water bottles are another party favor idea that we didn't do, but if you can find them cheaply in different colors, that would be a good favor as well. We requested on the invitation that they bring water bottles and good sneakers.

Frugal Party Idea: Host a Scavenger Hunt

We live in the woods, so we were able to set up a campfire for tribal council meetings. If you don't have a big wooded backyard, check with local state parks or the parks and recreation dept. in your area and see where you can have an outdoor party. Evenings are best, as it adds to the drama of the setting. We had tiki torches with bug repellant around the yard and tribal council site.

We found the Survivor soundtrack and played that all evening. The soundtrack was also a gift for my daughter, who likes that kind of music (African drums and jungle sounds).

For challenges, we had the kids hunt for their chicken dinner (a silly relay race while carrying a rubber chicken). We also had them skin and eat stickyfish (an island delicacy!). Basically, they had to see who could unwrap and eat as much salt-water taffy as possible in two minutes. Use caution with kids with braces, as it may be a problem.

They also had to fish for shark's eggs. We took Gummi sharks, put them in plastic Easter eggs and had them fish them out of pans of water with just bare feet while blindfolded. I made it more challenging by adding ice to the water.

Another challenge involved a battle of wits. They all sat around the fire and everyone had to come up with questions about my daughter that had to be answered correctly to win. One example was what was a nickname she had given to a local mall. All the kids came up with different questions that were really creative and funny (how old she was when she was finally potty-trained, etc).

The final challenge took place right after we sang "Happy Birthday". They had to find the tarantula in their dirt pudding. I made dirt cake cups with Gummi worms (recipe at the end) and hid a big Gummi tarantula in one of them. Whoever found it, won. The ultimate survivor won a rubber chicken. For singing "Happy Birthday", I just put a birthday candle in my daughter's cup and made sure she didn't get the one with the spider to make things fair. She was a real good sport about it and made sure she didn't win any challenges to make it fair to her friends.

After each challenge, the losing team had to "vote" one member off. I made sure at the beginning of the party that no feelings would be hurt. Another option for this would be just to have points awarded to each team and use the dirt pudding challenge to determine the ultimate survivor. The kids all got into the spirit of it, and were practically volunteering to be voted out. Everyone got to participate in each challenge, even if they had been voted out. The immunity idol that went to the winning tribe was this stupid looking plastic bobble-headed tiki god. We awarded that to the runner-up.

After all the challenges, they used the rest of the marshmallows and made s'mores with them. I served them munchies and sodas or juice, but they weren't too hungry after eating salt-water taffy, marshmallows and dirt cake! They enjoyed sitting around the fire and listening to music until their parents came. The party was three hours long, but they wished it had been longer. They all told us it was the best party they had been to, and it was the talk of the school for a long time afterwards. Kids were coming up to my daughter and asking to be invited to her next birthday. They told me they wanted a Survivor reunion next year.

I played the host of the survivor games, so I got to closely supervise the kids. They enjoyed it so much; they invited me to join them around the fire. In all, it was about three hours of unbridled hilarity. My daughter and I had a blast planning it and it seemed like the sillier and stupider it got, the more the kids loved it. The challenges were just old party games that were given a new twist as challenges. We laughed for weeks planning it out. I think we enjoyed planning it as much as the party itself. My daughter really got into planning it and came up with many of the challenges. The only condition I placed on it, was that it had to be good and silly.

I think when you get the kids involved, you increase the chance for success. After all, it's their party and not yours. The most important thing is to relax and enjoy the whole process from beginning to end. Make it silly and get your son involved as much as possible. I don't know why birthday parties are so stressful these days. Sometimes the simplest and most old-fashioned ideas work the best. Overall, I didn't spend more than $50 on the whole party (including decorations, food and gifts), and we had a lot of teenagers there. The biggest expense was soda and snacks. I would buy an extra bag of chips and a bottle of soda each week for several weeks before the party so it wouldn't be such a big expense at one time. Having some of the challenges involve eating and having to use water bottles during the challenges cut down on the number of munchies that were eaten as well, which saved money. The bandanas were a big hit. The kids were all impressed that they were handmade. I just made fabric squares and hemmed them. I used my husband's bandana as a template. Not only were they great favors, they were an important prop in the party. The rubber chickens were a huge hit and took on a life of their own as tribe members. The winning chicken was paraded around the yard in a victory dance.

Dirt Cake

  • 20 oz package of chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreo's work great)
  • 1/2 stick margarine
  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups of milk
  • 2 small packages of instant vanilla pudding
  • 12-oz non-dairy whipped topping
  • small paper cups
  • Gummi or other candy worms
  1. Crush cookies until the texture resembles dirt. Set aside.
  2. Cream margarine, cream cheese and powdered sugar. Set aside.
  3. Using a hand mixer, mix the milk and pudding.
  4. Fold the non-dairy whipped topping into the pudding.
  5. Add the cream mixture and stir.

First, layer the cookie mix on the bottom of each cup. Next layer, add some of the cream mixture. Keep alternating dirt mix with cream mix until the cup is almost filled. End with the cookie mixture on top so it looks like the cup is filled with dirt. Stick Gummi or candy worms in the "dirt" to look like they are emerging from the dirt. Hide a Gummi tarantula on the bottom of one of the cups. Make sure you know which cup has the spider! This is very sweet, and very yummy! The kids loved it

I was so pleased with this idea, and never laughed so hard in my life, both before and during the party. It was a lot of fun.

Related: Make Your Own Professional Looking Cakes

Water-Gun Party is a Winner for an 18th Birthday Party

My in-laws just threw a "water-gun party." About 50 people showed up with water-bazookas and Super-soakers. They filled some large tubs of water, divided us into two teams. Mom-in-law cut up some fabric strips to use as armbands and told us one team had to defend this area of the property, and the other team had to get the others off that area of the property. When the water ran out of the tubs, the game was over. We filled the tubs up twice. I'm not sure if anybody actually *won* but everybody had a great time. Then we ate hotdogs & potato chips. Very inexpensive, everybody brings their own gun and their own towel. The senior citizens loved it as much as the teenage boys did.

Reviewed January 2018

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