Our Guide to Planning an Unforgettable Sweet 16

The day has finally arrived! Your teen is entering the next stage of their life, and hosting an unforgettable party is the perfect way to celebrate this momentous occasion. From decorations, to venues, to party favors, we can help you with it all. As you plan the Sweet 16 Party of your sixteen-year-old’s dream, keep our ultimate guide close by! 


Sweet sixteen birthday party balloons that are silver, white, and coral

Decorations are key to turning an ordinary venue into a luxurious and elegant sixteen-year old’s dream. But there’s a lot to keep in mind when deciding on what decorations are right for your event. That’s why we broke it down for you to help plan your unforgettable Sweet 16.


An eye-catching, dominant entrance is essential to let your guests know where the fun is! It sets the tone for your entire party. Balloon arches at the front of your venue are a fun way to make sure your guests arrive at the correct place, and can complement any theme and works great at any type of venue. 


Balloons are essential for every party, but just basic balloons on ribbon can get boring. You can elevate your balloons by having a balloon-filled ceiling, this can elevate any venue and is an easy way to change the mood of your party. A balloon wall or a balloon garland are great for backdrops for a photo booth. And even a balloon arch can be used as a fun and inviting entrance into your venue.

Wall and Hanging Decor

A customized Sweet 16 banner is not only aesthetic, but adds a personalized touch to the party. Hanging decorations and drapery tied to your color scheme are an easy way to transform any venue. You can mix an array of colorful and shimmering drapes to really give that elegant touch! Filling the walls with stunning, unique decor is also an easy way to incorporate the theme into all aspects of your party. Consider adding photographs from throughout your teen’s life to emphasize how much they’ve grown throughout the years. We guarantee your family will love taking a trip down memory lane!


Creative centerpieces can bring everything together. Make them stand out by choosing something fun that flows with the party theme. For example, for a floral aesthetic on a budget, you can put some flowers in a mason jar and tie ribbon around it. Another easy centerpiece idea would be a glass jar or bowl filled with water and small candles floating on the water, this would work great with any theme. 

Serving Decor

Serving decor might not be on the top of your list when worrying about decorations, but mastering these details can make all the difference! You’ll be shocked at how put together your tables look with uniform serving utensils and plates rather than a clashing array of dishes. Further step up your serving decor game by adding an elegant cake cutter and serving dishes. 


A venue with silver and clear balloons all over the room

There’s a lot to consider when deciding on a venue that’s right for your Sweet 16 party, from the weather, how many guests you’re hosting, or your budget. Choosing the right venue isn’t easy, but we’re here to help!


Your budget is the first part of your Sweet 16 that you need to finalize, and it will be the driving factor of choosing your venue. You don’t want to spend your entire budget on a venue, but you want to make sure you secure the perfect space available to you.. Some great venue options when on a tight budget are community centers, a local YMCA, or a gym. Hosting your Sweet 16 party at home is always an option, too, but it’s not the right choice for everyone. There are a lot of things you have to consider when hosting an event like this at your home. Do you have enough space to comfortably accommodate all your guests? Do you want to clean everything up yourself? Are you going to disrupt your neighbors? Do you have enough parking space? These are all questions you need to consider before deciding to host your event at your house.


An outdoor venue is a great option for a Sweet 16 party, but it’s also very weather dependent. Depending on the location of the venue and the time of year of your party, an outdoor event might not be the best choice. If it rains and your event is outside it could ruin your entire party, but there are ways to prepare so this is not the case for you. Renting out tents is a great option as it would allow your guests to stay outside but still be protected from the rain. Another option to prepare for unexpected weather would be to choose an outdoor venue that also has an indoor option as a backup. Just pay attention to the forecast in advance and make sure you are prepared for the worst if rain is expected on the day of your event.

Type of Guests

Your sixteen-year-old is going to want to invite all their friends, so make sure your venue can accommodate them, as well as your family! A great option for a larger crowd with a variety of guests might be a hotel. They’re super convenient as they have all the food and services you need on-site. The hotel can take care of the set up and clean up, as well as provide you with experienced help so that your event can run as smoothly as possible. Out of town guests also have the convenience of staying the night without having to drive anywhere.

Guest Capacity

It’s no secret that how many guests you’re hosting will determine the size of venue you need. It’s crucial to get at least an estimated number of attendees before you start your venue search, as a large number can narrow down your venue options significantly. If your sixteen-year-old wants to invite a small group of their close friends, a small boat cruise or a catered yacht is a fun option. If you’re hosting a larger crowd, a renovated barn could be a great option for a more rustic feel. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination!

Food and Drink Options

A dessert able with pink and white cake pops and truffles

If you don’t want to worry about cooking, consider a banquet or catering hall, a country club, or a restaurant. But keep in mind that some venues require you to use one of their caterers, this might not be the right option for your party. But let’s dive into all your options so you have the information you need to make a fully educated decision, shall we?


Catering is super convenient but can get expensive fast. Having a catered party will save you a tremendous amount of time, the caterer will take care of the bulk of the work when it comes to food, and all you'll have to worry about is scheduling the catering. Catering also provides a large variety of options to choose from, you can choose anything from BBQ to an italian feast. Caterers also have experience with serving large crowds so it will ensure that your party runs smoothly.


If you’re planning a party early in the afternoon, a brunch-style party is a great option. It provides the best of both breakfast and lunch and there are so many options to choose from. You can serve anything from bagels and pastries to cold cuts and quiche. Brunch is easy for teens to grab and go so they can still be with all their friends and not miss out. 

Create Your Own Bar

A taco bar, pasta station, or a baked potato bar are a fun way to bring out the creativity of your guests, while providing them with a satisfying meal. Guests will be able to create their own plate and customize their serving from the items you offer. This allows for everyone to enjoy their food exactly how they want. For picky eaters, this is a go-to option!

Food Truck

Instead of your traditional catered food, consider having a local food truck at your event. It allows your guests to choose what they want, and all you’ll have to worry about is scheduling the truck! It’s a win-win. A food truck at your party is a modern and fun way to take your event to the next level.


Most guests will be looking forward to the dessert portion of the meal, so you don’t want to disappoint them! Birthday cake or cupcakes are a must so the guest of honor can follow the tradition of making a wish and blowing out their candles. But having a large variety of desserts is a great idea. The addition of things like scones, cream puffs, cheesecake, cookies, and brownies will make dessert a thrilling and more satisfying experience. A dessert bar brings a fun and delicious touch to the party, and it allows for you to incorporate your theme into the food.

Photo Opportunities

teen girls posing for a photo using photo booth props

Having unique photo opportunities will make your event unforgettable. Teens love taking pictures and capturing fun moments of their lives, so an on-site photo opportunity is sure to be a hit!

Photo Booths

Make your photo booths stand out! Neon lights, vintage photo frame backdrops, balloon garland backdrops, curtain backdrops, and a greenscreen backdrop are all sure to give your guests an Instagram-worthy photo dump.

Professional Photographer

Hiring a professional photographer is a great option for your event. It allows you to be part of the memories because you won't be taking any pictures. A professional photographer will also capture moments at your event that you would have never been able to.


Hiring a photographer is not in everyone's budget or plans though, and there are plenty of other ways to capture memories from this special day. Polaroids are a great option especially for teens. They can quick snap a picture and in a matter of seconds they already have a picture they can take with them.


Teen girls in dresses and party hats posing together in front of a happy birthday sign with pink and silver balloons


For a more casual sweet 16 a short, teen dress with breezy fabrics in fun colors and prints like florals would be appropriate. A nice skirt paired with a semi-formal tank top or t-shirt would also look great. Jumpsuits are also a fun option, they are simple yet cute and can be both casual or formal. For guys, khaki pants or shorts and a button-down shirt would be fine.


If the event is more formal, a long and more traditionally colored dress like black, navy, or green might be a better option. A formal t-shirt or long sleeve shirt with long dress pants would also be appropriate. For guys, wedding attire is acceptable, dark suits with a button-down shirt and a tie.

Party Favors

A table with white party favor bags with pink and purple tissue paper

Party favors are a nice way to surprise guests with a token of appreciation for joining your Sweet 16 celebration. The favor you choose can be as simple as candy, a fresh baked good, a tiny trinket, or a personalized keepsake. Tying it into the party theme can help bring the whole look of the event together. Some things to keep in mind when deciding on a favor are your guests, budget, time constraint, and theme. There are many kinds of favors including useful favors, decorative favors, candies, baked goods, florals, and much more. It really depends on the theme of your party and who you’re inviting to determine what favor is right for your event. 


Everybody loves treats, so taking home a fresh baked cookie or cupcake is a great option. Even a goodie bag filled with candy that ties in with your theme is a simple yet great idea. Packaging is also key when trying to incorporate your theme into your favors. A cute box that matches your color scheme would be a great option for baked goods. 

Useful Favors

Favors can often be cute but not practical or useful. Giving out something that your guests can actually use is a great idea, as it's not a waste of your money. Things like picture frames, makeup, Popsockets, a small hand cream, or even perfume/colon. 

Best Place to Buy Sweet 16 Party Supplies in PGH

Hudson Event Design is the perfect Pittsburgh, PA, business for all your Sweet 16 party balloon needs. We can create customized balloon arches in multiple sizes, giant balloon letters for spelling out messages to your sixteen year old, balloon columns, photo-worthy balloon walls, and garland. 

To design a Sweet 16 party balloon decoration, request a quote today!

Author :

Ellie Mosher

Category :



Find out how you can transform any venue into the perfect event getaway with Hudson Event Design’s stunning balloon installations today!

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