Turning 16 for some girls is anticipated almost as much as a wedding day. While for others, it’s just as special as any other birthday. Whether you’re planning a big bash or a smaller get together, here are a 8 simple steps to follow for a successful sweet 16 party: Define Your Budget Discuss with your teen how much you’re willing to spend. Also, involve her in the distribution of how and on what the budget will be spent. Like any other party, Sweet 16s can really add up if you do not set boundaries and expectations. Including your daughter in the budget discussions will help her understand and appreciate why you can say yes to some requests and have to say no to others. Prepare a Guest List In general, the more people your daughter invites, the more the party will cost affecting your overall budget. Take into consider your daughter’s desires. She might just want to get together with a close group of friends for a concert or have a day at the spa. Set a Date and Location Choosing a date and venue for the party is usually the most challenging part in preparing for the event because it depends on where her birthday lands on the calendar. If it happens to fall around Christmas, or during other busy times of the year, be sure to book the location well ahead of time. This will minimize the chances of having to compete with office holiday parties or graduation events. It is always a good idea to send out “save-the-date” cards or e-mail messages if you’re worried about guests being overbooked. Some venues to consider include: hotel ballrooms, public parks, barns, grange halls, dance clubs, restaurants, sports facilities, and your own backyard. Choose a Theme It is not necessary to choose a theme, but it can be fun. Some popular themes are princess, Hollywood, rock star, Mardi Gras, Pretty in Pink, sugar and spice, luau, and fairytales. The theme also can be a chance to highlight your teen’s personal interests, such as equestrian sports or ballet. Select the Vendors Some Sweet 16s can become as elaborate as weddings, so consider attending a bridal fair to compare prices among caterers, disc jockeys, and other service providers. You can also save money by tapping into your own talent. Have a friend help you prepare food ahead of time. The birthday girl herself might want to download her own music playlist instead of hiring a DJ. Send the Invitations Make sure to send out the invitations three to five weeks in advance. The tradition for Sweet 16s is that the birthday girl hand-delivers the invites herself, or with the help of friends. Write the Menu Choose foods that are easy to eat standing up. Most likely your guests will be standing and mingling around rather than sitting down for a formal meal. The trend for Sweet 16 cakes is to make them multi-tiered, but in bright colors to distinguish them from wedding cakes. A smaller cake works just as well. Set the Itinerary Compose a rough timeline for the party. When will the music begin? When will the food be served? What time to cut the cake? And what time will the party end?