If you’re faced with the task of planning either your son, daughter or grandchild’s 18th birthday, we understand that this can be a daunting proposition. To identify and point out all of the components of party planning that you may not have initially considered, we have come up with a guide to successfully planning an 18th birthday party.

Planning An 18th Birthday Party: The Initial Considerations

When your children are little it’s much easier to plan their parties; you have full control over the guest list, the venue, the entertainment and predominantly the budget. Nevertheless, by the time they’re 18, they become much more opinionated and are likely to have lots of preferences about the organisation and execution of their big night. The key is to communicate with each other.

Unless you know that your child loves a surprise, we suggest avoiding going down the surprise party route. There will be a lot more opportunities for disappointment unless, of course, you are entirely confident in the fact your planning will live up to their hopes and dreams. If you have your heart set on surprising your son or daughter, then you can do so in the form of an exclusive entertainer they weren’t expecting or a special gift.


To make the night particularly memorable, try to avoid using your family home as the venue. Not only is it likely to get destroyed by a large crowd of 18-year-olds, but it will help make the night more memorable and special if you hire out a designated venue. Look for venues close to home so that it is easily accessible for the majority of the guests. Alternatively, you could hire out some land where you can put up a large marquee. Many luxury marquees nowadays come with bars, tables, dance floors, lighting, PA systems and heating. This saves you having to organise all of these elements yourself.


This is something you need to discuss with your son or daughter. They may have grand ideas regarding potential themes, or they may have decided they want to stay clear of fancy dress. There are plenty of themes appropriate for all ages. However, fancy dress can often put people off attending. Here are some ideas below that we suggest are ideal for an 18th birthday party, some of which do not require a fancy-dress dress code.

  • Casino Night
  • 1920’s Gangsters
  • Night Under The Star
  • Masquerade Ball
  • Hollywood Red Carpet
  • Rumble in The Jungle
  • Ancient Greece
  • Carnival
  • Arabian Nights
  • Cowboys and Indians
  • 007
  • Entertainment

    If you’re on a budget, then an iPod connected to some surround sound speakers will be sufficient enough. However, if your son or daughter (or yourself) has grand ideas about hiring entertainment, then here are some suggestions that you may not have thought of. Your choice of entertainment, will to a certain extent, depend on the theme you have chosen and what your guests are interested in. This is we suggest deciding on the theme beforehand. Hiring a professional DJ is always a good idea. A top quality DJ’s will know how to take your party to another level and get all of the guests involved.

    You can guarantee that 18-year-olds will also have hours of fun in a photo booth. Photo booth pictures also provide the perfect keepsakes and souvenir of the party. All parties now should offer photo booths; they’re the ideal way of ensuring your guests engage with new people and provide perfect photo opportunities, especially if you haven’t hired a professional photographer. A more affordable entertainment option can be simply asking some friends or family members to make a speech or two about the birthday boy or girl. Think of somebody close to your son or daughter that can be guaranteed to get a laugh out of the audience.


    Feeding and watering your guests is a vital element of your party that needs to be considered. If you have decided you will be providing food and drink to your guests, then you need to consider whether to cater yourself or hire in caterers. The venue you have booked may provide catering services as part of your deal. You will also need to take into consideration whether you will be providing a free or paid bar. Remember a lot of the guests may not yet be 18, and you should be cautious of how much they are drinking. You can either opt for a sit down full course meal or snacky finger foods.

    If you are thinking of doing self-catering, then it is a good idea to ask friends and family members if they can help with the catering and provide a dish to serve up on the evening. Sausage rolls, pizza slices, bowls of crisps and Indian snacks are just a few ideas of what you could ask people to help with. If you are thinking of being more adventurous, then you could choose to hire a chocolate fountain. This is guaranteed to attract the attention of your guests and ensure for a memorable evening.

    If you have chosen to go with a catering company and are thinking of proving a sit-down meal, then why not consider having a pig roast. You can have other food accompaniments laid out on the tables and let everyone serve themselves. Alternatively, you could hire a pizza van or fish and chip van and again let everyone self-serve.

    chocolate fountain

    Guest List

    Take some time to delicately put together the guest list with your son or daughter. This way, no one who is not wanted there will be accidentally invited. You will also have some control over numbers of guests and can make sure there are not too many people coming, especially if you have hired a relatively small venue. Some venues will be strict on their capacities and you will have to respect that. When it comes to sending the invites out, the most common method of communication nowadays is over Facebook.

    However, if you want to send paper invites out too, this can add a more personal touch. If you are worried that word has got about and more people will arrive than the specified few who were invited, you can ask individuals to bring their invites along with them. Nevertheless, it’s likely that your son or daughter will know exactly who they have invited.


    Here are just a few top tips on how to plan the best 18th birthday party for your son, daughter or grandchild in order to avoid disappointment. We suggest that in order for the planning and execution of the night to go as smoothly as possible, you heavily rely on communicating well with each other. The goal is to achieve the best possible party with the least stress and at minimal expense.