It can be tough to plan a birthday party for picky tweens. Trying to figure out what they’ll be excited about and what will get you those dreaded eye rolls. But don’t worry these 12-year-old birthday party ideas will help you find the perfect party games and party activities to make your child feel special.
Easy ways to entertain tweens and get your kid excited to celebrate their birthday.
Use these great ideas as inspiration to plan your party theme and help you decide where to host the party. You’ll find options to have a birthday party at home or at local party places. With some quick party planning you can throw an amazing party for the birthday boy or birthday girl.
This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.
Fun 12 Year Old Birthday Party Ideas to Entertain Tweens
Let’s start planning for your child’s special day with 57 12-year-old birthday party ideas.
You’ll find easy birthday party games to play both indoors and outdoors. Plus unique activity ideas and local places to host your party.
There is no specific order so, go through the whole list to make sure you find the party theme that best fits your child’s personality. You want to try your best to create a party where all the kids have a blast.
Also, don’t worry if things got hectic and you’re planning a last-minute birthday party. This list has tons of easy party ideas you can do last minute.
Such as playing a charades game, an ice cream bar, a movie night, and even escape room games you can just print out and play that day. So don’t panic I’ve got you covered.
If you go through all of these and a party still seems too overwhelming there are lots of ways to celebrate instead of a party. We love to add a few meaningful birthday celebrations to our kid’s special day. Some years we even do this instead of a party.
You can make it memorable with simple activities like letting them pick out dinner, visiting a theme park, decorating their bedroom door, or doing a family game night.
Just try and make the day special for your kids whether it’s a party or being with family.
Whatever you decide to do your child will know you put a lot of effort into their birthday even if they don’t show it at this age. Someday they will say thanks (:
After your read, this article find even more cool party ideas & birthday themes on our Birthday Party Page just like these below:
30 Awesome Birthday Party Games for Kids
9 Year Old Birthday Party Ideas
10 Year Old Birthday Party Ideas
11-Year-old Birthday Party Ideas,
13-Year-old Birthday Party Ideas
How to Get Started Planning
Before you decide on which 12 year old birthday party ideas to use you need to start planning the party. Here are a few steps to get started planning your kid’s birthday party.
First Step – Use a birthday party planner to make sure you know all the tasks that need to get done for the party.
This free printable Birthday party checklist will help you keep track of everything you need to get done. All the things you need to do in an easy-to-follow checklist.
You can also use or step by step guide to make party planning easier.
Next Step – Decide on your party guests. Who does your child want to invite to this party? Are they inviting their closest friends or everyone they know? This will help you figure out how big or small the party will be and if you can host the party at your home.
Plan Your Party Theme & Activities – Now it’s time to plan things to do at the party. Dive into the list below and find the perfect party activity from our list of 12-year-old birthday party ideas. Use these ideas to come up with the perfect theme of the party.
Nerf Wars Party
Plan an awesome Nerf Wars birthday party in your backyard. The kids will love playing capture the flag while shooting nerf guns around your DIY bases and obstacles. This party was a huge hit with my kids and easier than you think to host.
Learn how to throw the Ultimate Nerf Gun Party.
Laser Tag Party
Bring the kids to a local Laser Tag site and let the kids play a few rounds of laser tag. They’ll love chasing each other around and the competition to see who hit the most targets at the end of each round.
Best part there are no Nerf darts hitting you!
Plan a classic sleepover at your house for the kids. Create a bunch of fun sleepover games to play, do a spa night, sing karaoke, play an escape room game, or have an Xbox tournament. Make sure to put out some delicious food to eat too!
Find tons of fun things to do at a sleepover to make planning this party easy.
Video Games & Game Truck
If your kids love video games make this your party theme. Kids can use Xbox and a Switch to have multiple people play games like Fortnite together. You can ask the kids to bring their Switch game with them to allow more kids to play.
Another really fun idea is having a Game Truck come to your house. These huge trucks are filled with gaming consoles and allow lots of kids to play at the same time.
When the Game Truck time is over have pizza and cake in your house or out on your driveway.
Add these cool Level Up to 12 birthday decorations to welcome your guest to the parties and for a cool photo backdrop.
If you have a smaller group plan a board game night. You can play some cooperative board games that allow the kids to work together as a team to solve a problem.
Another hit with tweens are funny board games. You’ll find tons of options for groups games in our list of 32 Board Games Teens & Tween Will Actually Play
What Do You Meme? Family Addition
Get inspired with our list of 32 Board Games Teens & Tween Will Actually Play
Send the kids out on a neighborhood scavenger hunt with their phones. Use our free printable Neighborhood Scavenger Hunts to play the games.
First, break the kids up into teams and give each team the scavenger hunt list. Set parameters of how far they can go and a time limit of when they need to be back.
Once they are off they will need to take a selfie or picture of all the items they find on the list. The winning team is the one that found the most items on the list before the time was up.
The kids will have so much fun running around the neighborhood and trying to find the list of items.
A spa party will make the kids feel older and pampered. Give each child a spa robe to wear as their party favor. Set out nail polish in all different colors and let the girls paint each other’s nails.
When they are done with their nails have them do face masks. The kids will love these adorable spa animal face masks.
Add to the atmosphere of the party by having the birthday kid create a playlist of their favorite songs to play during the party.
Then for food put out small finger sandwiches and little desserts along with some cucumber water or fruit-infused water
Swimming Pool Party
A great option for this age is a pool party. They are old enough that you don’t have to worry so much about them swimming which makes it an easier party to throw.
Take advantage of a local pool or beach that has lifeguards. Bring along pool floats, dive toys, and skip balls to throw so they can play in the pool.
Don’t forget to bring lots of food for the kids to snack on in between swimming. They’ll get hungry!
If your kids want more thrills with the pool head to a local waterpark to ride the slides and wave pool. This can get expensive so just take their closest friends for this party idea.
Outdoor Movie Night
Create a fun outdoor movie night for the kids. You can use a movie projector that hooks up to your phone giving you access to all your streaming services. Then hang up a big white sheet in your yard to be the screen.
Put out a Popcorn & Candy station in your backyard for the kids to eat while they watch the movie. Then lay out tons of blankets and outdoor pillows for them to relax on during the show.
This is a perfect summer birthday party idea. The kids will love an old fashion water balloon battle!
Get enough water balloons for two teams of kids. I like to use these water balloons that fill up in a bundle while using your water hose. This saves tons of time and it’s so much easier to fill.
When the water balloons are filled add them to two large bins. Separate the kids into two teams and give each a bin filled with water balloons.
Create a line down the middle of the yard so that each team has a side of the yard to launch their balloons. Then it’s time to start the water balloon battle.
Make bead bracelets or necklaces with the kids. Get each child a beading board to use while creating their necklaces or bracelets. Then provide lots of different shapes and colors of beads along with string.
Shopping Birthday Party
For the kids who love to shop this is a great birthday party idea. Bring a group of their friends to the mall for a few hours to hang out and shop.
You could give each kid a visa gift card to buy something small as their goody bag. Maybe $20 on each card. Remember you won’t have the additional cost of a birthday facility so use that extra money to buy the visa card and lunch for the kids.
Have them all meet up in the food court for lunch/dinner when their done shopping.
DJ Dance Party
Let your kid play DJ blasting their favorite songs for an epic dance party.
It’s time to sing! Have kids take turns singing along with a Karaoke machine. They’ll have a blast picking out their favorite song to sing. Let them sing songs on their own and encourage group sing-alongs.
Tip: A karaoke machine can be a birthday present for your child.
Instead of birthday cake have a yummy donut bar. Buy plain donuts or glazed donuts for the kids to decorate. Lay out the donuts on a tray then create a bar with small bowls and spoons with all the toppings.
Donut Bar Ideas – Chocolate Icing, Vanilla Icing, or Maple Icing, sprinkles, small chocolate chips, nuts, crushed candy bars, small marshmallows, flaked coconut, M& Ms, crispy bacon, or crushed graham crackers.
Escape Room Games
Plan a thrilling Escape room birthday party with fun mysteries the kids will have to work together to solve. They’ll go through a series of challenges and clues together to “escape the room”.
We like to use Printable Escape Room games as they have everything you need to plan the game and all you need to do is print it out. It makes this a really easy party that the kids will have a great time playing.
Fortnite Birthday Party
If your child is a gamer they’ll love a cool Fortnite Themed party. Play a game of Capture the Flag with Nerf guns and supply drops just like the video game. Then serve V Bucks cookies and slurp juice.
Learn How to Throw an Epic Fortnite Birthday Party.
Send the kids on a treasure hunt around your house. Print out Treasure Hunt clues you can find on Pinterest to set up the game.
If you want to have teams compete to see who can finish the treasure hunt first make sure to change up the order of the clues so they aren’t running to the same location at the same time. I do this by changing the order of the printable clues.
Make sure to add a prize at the end of the treasure hunt for the kids to find!
Let the kids have the thrill of climbing up a huge climbing wall at the birthday party. For this activity, you’ll have to find a local place that has a climbing wall.
Check to see if they have party packages that allow the kids to try and climb the wall more than one time.
Tip: Have a small activity ready if they get restless while the other kids are climbing. Something like these free printable Would You Rather Questions you can ask while their waiting.
Play a fun game of Charades. This is super easy with this Free Printable Charades Word List for Kids. Just print it out and add the words to a bowl. Then split the kids up into two teams.
Teams will then trade off letting one kid pick out a word and act it out without talking. Their teammates will need to guess the correct word or phrase in under 1 minute. If they do that their team gets one point.
The winning team has the most points at the end of the game. Don’t forget to get a prize for the winning team.
Plan an awesome backyard party with games they’ll have a blast playing. Set up several different games in the backyard and let the kids go around trying to play them all.
At each game, you could give out small prizes as an extra incentive to play.
Here are a few 12 year old birthday party ideas & games to try in your backyard. You’ll find even more ideas in our Favorite Outdoor Birthday Party Games for Kids.
Tug of War
This is a pretty simple game that everyone knows how to play. All you need is a Tug of War rope, two cones, and a space to play.
Split the kids up into two teams with each taking up one side of the rope. When you say go the first team to pull the middle of the rope (it has a flag) over their cone wins the game.
Corn Hole or Bean Bag Toss
This fun game has two names depending on where you live but it’s played the same way. You’ll need a corn hole set with two boards and bean bags.
Set up the two boards across from each other and have the players stand behind them. Kids will try and throw the bean bag into the hole in the board.
This game has two small ladders that you position across from each other. The kids will then try and throw two balls connected to a rope and make them land on one of the ladder rungs.
All you need to play is a Ladder Game.
The Spike ball game has become really popular with kids and is a pretty active game. You’ll bounce the ball on the net in the middle and the other players will try and catch it.
I would suggest you play this on the grass in case the kids dive for the ball.
Set up a relay race in your backyard or basement for the kids. This is a pretty easy game for a large group to play.
First, make a DIY baton by wrapping paper towel rolls with construction paper. Make sure each one has a different color as that will be their team color.
Set up a chair on one end of the yard and a start line on the other end of the yard. Then split the kids up into teams.
When you say go the first kids run with the baton toward the kids by the chair. They had off the baton and that kid runs with it back to the start line where they hand it off to their next teammate. The kids keep going until all the players have run.
The first team to complete the track wins the game.
Set up a backyard Obstacle Course. You can totally DIY this with items you have in your garage. All you need are some obstacles for the kids to run around, jump over, crawl through, or balance across.
If you have a swing set in the yard incorporate that too. You just need a course the kids can race across to see who can get through the obstacle course the fastest.
Another idea is to put up a Ninja obstacle course between your trees in the backyard. We bought this for a birthday party and then the kids played on it for the rest of the summer. Which was awesome.
Throw a sports party at a local park. Call up your town or local park district and see if you can rent a space in the park and some picnic benches to use afterward for birthday cake. This will ensure no one else is there during your event.
Below are several 12 year old birthday party ideas for sports games to play at the park. You could choose one sport to play or multiple sports depending on your timeline. The Homerun Derby and Kickball tournament would pair well together at a party.
Head to a local basketball court in your neighborhood and let the kids split up into teams to play a game of basketball. Then let them play a game of H-O-R-S-E or Knock Out.
Home Run Derby
Use a local baseball diamond to host a Home Run Derby. Based on the kid’s ability decided ahead of time what makes a home run. It does not need to be over a fence you can set up cones to create your own home run line.
Then choose to have either a parent or kid be the pitcher. Have half the kids in the field trying to catch the balls and the other half waiting to bat.
Tip: Serve Ice Cream afterward in these fun baseball helmet ice cream cups. Just like at a real baseball game.
Soccer Shoot Out
Find a local park that has soccer nets set up to host the party. To play a soccer shoot out have one child play the goalie to try and stop the ball. The rest of the kids line up and try to kick the ball into the goal one at a time.
You can adjust where the kids shoot based on their ability. Make sure to trade off who gets to be the goalie.
Touch Football Game
If your kids like football host a flag football party. All you need is a flag football set with the flags for your waist, cones, and a football to play.
Use a big open field in a park near you or you could even do this in your yard if it’s big enough. Present the winning team with Football Metals.
Head to a local baseball diamond or large open field to host a kickball tournament. If you use an open field you will need to get 4 bases to set up the game. Other than that all you need is a kickball.
Split the kids up into two teams and play the game similar to a baseball game except the kids are kicking the ball.
Give the winning team these Kickball medals after the game.
I love that these are cheap and fun balloon games to play. You can play so many different versions of balloon games both indoors and outdoors. From Stomp it to Relay Races and Keep it Up.
Get tons of 12 year old birthday party ideas in our Favorite Balloon Games for Kids.
Great Bake Off
Give all the kids an easy recipe and the ingredients to make cookies or something simple to bake. Then put out toppings to add once the cookies are done. Let all the kids try each other’s cookies and see who created to best ones.
Find a local trampoline park that hosts kids’ birthday parties. They usually give you a certain amount of time to jump and play dodgeball then use a party room to have pizza and cake.
Head to a local indoor or outdoor Go Kart track and let the kids race to see who’s the fastest driver. They’ll love the speed and competition.
Let the kids play a round of miniature golf. Have a prize for the child that gets the lowest score. Then take the kids to a local pizza place or ice cream store.
Paintball is an action-packed game kids this age will really enjoy. Just keep in mind the paintballs can hurt a little so make sure the parents are okay with this activity.
Find a local paintball facility to host this party as you don’t want to do this at home.
Let the kids decorate cupcakes for their dessert. Put out a toppings bar and frosting and let them create an amazing dessert.
Cupcake Toppings Bar Ideas: Different color frosting, sprinkles, small chocolate chips, M&Ms, small cookies, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, Reeses Pieces, crushed Oreos, crushed candy bars, nuts
Roller Skating Party
Take the kids roller skating at a local roller rink. See if the rink has nights with special events like glow-in-the-dark roller skating or costume nights. Kids will love the themed parties.
Glow In Dark Dance Party
This is the perfect 12 year old birthday party ideas for this awkward tween age. They’ll get to dance their hearts outs in the dark so they won’t feel as self-conscious. Give all the kids glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets to wear.
Would You Rather Game
This is a great filler game while kids are waiting for pizza or in between other games. Because we all know that’s when they get crazy.
Use our lists of hilarious & kid-appropriate questions to ask the kids and hear their crazy answers. It should have everyone laughing.
Grab our free printable:
48 Would You Rather Questions for Kids
Hilarious Would You Rather Questions for Teens & Tweens
Take a group of kids to a beach for the day or have a backyard beach party. Play beach games like volleyball, beach tennis, frisbee, spike ball, and hitting around beach balls. Play lots of fun music and let the kids sunbathe and hang out.
Give all the kids Hawaiian leis and hula skirts /shirts to wear for the party.
For the games: Play a ring toss game with Tiki Torches by letting the kids try to throw hula hoops over the unlit tiki torches.
Have a flip-flop toss game by laying hula hoops on the ground and giving kids two flip-flops. They then try to throw the flip-flop to land in the hula hoop.
Lastly, have a hula hoop contest. Who can keep the hula hoop going the longest?
Make sure to play fun island music to set the mood. Use the songs to play musical chairs with the kids too. You could even teach the kids to hula dance.
Kids love to play arcade games so why not host a party at the local arcade? See if you can get a party room for pizza and cake afterward.
They also love winning all those cheap prizes at the end.
Plan a birthday party at the local ice rink. Let the kids’ ice skate around for an hour or two before you have birthday cake.
Take the kids to see a minor league baseball game. Many have deals for groups with packages including food and tickets.
If you’re brave take a small group of kids camping for the night at a nearby State Park. You can go hiking during the day and enjoy the campfire at night.
Or have a campout in your backyard. Throw up some tents, have a campfire, roast marshmallows and tell scary ghost stories without leaving your house.
Selfie Photo Booth
This tween age group loves a good Selfie so why not make that part of the party? Create a DIY selfie backdrop by taping to the wall streamers, balloons, and a birthday sign.
Or buy a premade 12 year Old background sign that you can hang up on a wall.
Make sure to place a table nearby with funny sunglasses, hats, boas, and silly signs to hold up for the pictures.
Take a few of your child’s closest friends to an amusement park like Six Flags for the day. They’ll love to hop on and off the thrilling roller coasters and play games in the park.
Tip: Check if any of the kids have a season pass to save some money on tickets. You could also save by feeding them snacks in the park and then buying dinner outside the park on the way home.
If your child loves STEM projects why not do a few cool experiments with the group? We love to make these DIY Volcanos and Rain Clouds in a Jar. Both look super cool and are easy to do at home.
Is there a craft your child really enjoys? Let them show their friends how to do it and try it together. Or do a DIY craft at home they would enjoy. Pinterest has tons of fun craft ideas for 12 year olds.
Be a Star
Have the kids dress up like their favorite pop star or movie star for the party. Create a red carpet for them to walk down to show off their costumes.
Kids can vote to see who has the best costume. Give an Oscar trophy to the winner and let them do an acceptance speech. Throw in some karaoke and your party will be planned.
Tik Toc Dance
You know this age loves social media so why not let them practice some Tik Toc dances? The kids can break up into groups and all do different dances to show off to each other.
Or work on one big dance together and put it out on Tik Toc.
Buy ceramic items for all the kids to paint at your home Or head to a local Paint and Sip (juice for the kids) space where an instructor shows all the kids how to paint the same picture on canvas. They’ll love taking home their creations.
I hope you have found the perfect 12 year old birthday party ideas for your child’s birthday. The easy parties are sure to entertain even the hardest-to-please tweens.
Save Money on Party Decorations & Party Favors
You can save money on party decorations, goody bags, and more at dollar tree. It’s a great place to find all the paper products you need, thank you cards, invitations, and more. You’ll be amazed at what you can find!
Get tons of ideas in our Cheap Birthday Party Decorations Ideas for Kids at Dollar Tree
Best Gifts for Tweens
Finding gifts for this picky age group can be tough. Get tons of 12 year old birthday party ideas on our Gift Ideas Page or from these gift guides below.
45 Hottest Gift Ideas for Tween Girls in 2023 – Great gift ideas for picky kids
35 What Boys Really Want for Their Birthday – Cool Gifts for Boys
Coolest Gifts for Fortnite Players & Gamers – What to Give kids that Love Fortnite
Best Nerf Gun Gifts for Kids – Which Nerf Guns to give for birthday presents
Make sure to grab your free printable birthday party checklist to make party planning easier and help you get organized!
More Birthday Party Ideas
Find tons of great party ideas for kids on our Birthday Party Page.
Birthday Party Ideas by Age Group
Awesome Birthday Party Ideas for Boys Age 8-12
9 Year Old Birthday Party Ideas to Celebrate & Make the Day Special
10-Year-Old Birthday Party Ideas That Rock!
11-Year-Old Birthday Party Ideas Kids Will Be Excited About
13 Year Old Birthday Party Ideas for Teen Boys & Girls
Birthday Party Activities & Games
30 Birthday Party Games Kids Love – Indoor & Outdoor Game Ideas
Best Outdoor Party Games for Kids in Your Backyard – Great Games for Birthdays at Home
Meaningful Birthday Traditions to Start this Year – Make birthdays special without a party.
Escape Room Birthday Parties – How to Host an Escape Room Birthday Party
Birthday Interviews – Free Printables for a yearly birthday interview – Remember all your kids milestones
If you enjoyed this article, become part of the Happy Mom Hacks Community where we strive to make a mom’s life easier. Get our weekly newsletter with fun kids’ activities, family travel ideas, easy weeknight meals, household hacks, and more.
Bonus, you’ll get our free printable Would You Rather Game to use as a hilarious birthday party game or fun family game night.