Teenagers are tricky. So throwing the perfect teen party is rife with potential drama. When gearing up for a quinceanera, Sweet 16, graduation, or good old-fashioned hootenanny—it’s best to have professional help.
Top-rated planning pros Alyss Michelle of C.A.K.E. (Coordination for All Kinds of Events) in Queens, NY and Maria Luisa De Cicco of Events and Cuisine by Luisa De Cicco headquartered in Pelham, NY – both highly rated Thumbtack pros – dish the dirt on all things party-tastic when it comes to teens.
What are your top tips for parents working with a party planner for the first time?
Read reviews like those on Thumbtack! Evidence of past success bodes well for your teen’s shindig. Look for experience planning a variety of event sizes, suggests Alyss. This often indicates an ability to customize services to fit your needs and your budget.
Both ladies agree that transparency around cost is crucial. Maria Luisa says to look out for hidden fees tucked into the contract. Always ask questions if you are unclear on what costs are for. Service agreements should have a company’s policies as well as fees clearly outlined, shares Alyss. A large event has enough of its own surprises, she says, the planner need not contribute their own!
Verify if you use a caterer that they are fully insured, says Maria Luisa—and the same goes for wait staff you may hire.
What goes into planning a teen party?
Full-service planning includes everything the client needs. From food to custom cakes, furniture rentals, décor, and staff, Maria Luisa’s team covers it all.
Before diving in, Alyss recommends doing research and setting a budget. This will keep your teen from bankrupting you with a constantly growing vision. If you’re going DIY, she says this research is especially important as many first time party planners don’t realize the true cost of a custom cake, catering, venues, etc. She suggests prioritizing event elements that are most important to your teen, and letting your budget and energy remain focused on that.
Custom design, décor, and entertainment are what make an event extraordinary for Alyss. She strongly suggests finding a planner who has a solid track record of creating beautiful parties. She believes that entertainment and food choices are often influenced by the décor choice, so if your daughter wants a Great Gatsby-themed party, that will impact the music and food. Alyss encourages clients to use food as decoration and hire entertainers that complement the theme.
Does the party planner attend the party?
It depends on the size and type of party, according to Maria Luisa. If it’s a smaller event, she’ll stop by at the beginning to ensure setup is going well and check on the client, then leave before the guests arrive.
However, in the case of bigger events, the planner often stays on as coordinator.
For a full-on affair—like a formal Sweet 16—where there are a variety of activities taking place throughout the event, the planner can help everything go off without a hitch, shares Alyss. Perhaps it’s cueing the DJ at the appropriate time or overseeing the departure and arrival of caterers. Whatever they are, those important details can be stressful tasks that with a planner the parents don’t need to worry about.
How far out should a parent book a party planner?
If you’re feeling risky, you can push as close as one week out, which Maria Luisa has pulled off before. However, neither planner recommends this approach. Small events that don’t involve a lot of working parts are fine at a month, says Maria Luisa.
For fancy affairs, Alyss recommends at least four months if you want to find a venue, book a caterer, and pull it off with style. When it comes to party planning, more time is always better, so don’t be shy about starting sooner than later. Besides the stress it saves to plan ahead, she says you can often get services or goods at discounted rates, whereas last minute usually means paying top dollar.
What’s hot on the teen party scene these days?
Group cooking classes are unique, hands on, and a great option for smaller affairs, says Maria Luisa.
Like weddings, the trend in teen parties is towards expressing individuality. Alyss says for this reason it’s hard to identify specific trends aside from an overall departure from the norm. She shares that “traditional” teen events are waning in popularity and fun and quirky requests are coming in such as recent Sweet 16 requests for a CandyLand theme and an Alice in Wonderland theme. One constant is Winter Wonderland. She says it’s a theme that just won’t quit.
Candy and dessert buffets are always hot for any occasions—including teen parties. Alyss thinks they’re a great option because candy buffets serve as both décor and refreshments—so they are a nice event enhancement.
What’s the average cost for a teen party in your area?
In New York, the average teen party can range from $1800.00 to $2,500.00. It all depends on the scope of the event and the client’s needs, shares Alyss. Depending on how much help you need and how involved the event is, talk to party planners and see what’s available!
Any last advice parents throwing a big teen party this season?
Before letting your teen loose on Pinterest, set a realistic budget. This will guide the planning process and help you stay focused on what’s important, reiterates Alyss. She also recommends considering if you need a party planner. For a small pizza party with 12 guests and a movie, you probably can pull it off yourself. But if you want to have a large-scale, off-site event with multiple moving parts, professional help can make it more enjoyable for all of you—not to mention ensuring the event that goes smoother. She strongly suggests that if you opt not to hire a planner, ask friends and family for help. You don’t have to do it alone.
On that note, Maria Luisa says try to avoid getting overwhelmed and to remember to have fun!