"Sin City" is most often used as a nickname for Las Vegas, but this name can apply to any place where people go to celebrate vices like drinking and gambling. Since teenagers can't legally participate in either of these vices, make an effort to create a party that at least feels like Vegas. Rent out a dark club or decorate your finished basement, then appoint some eagle-eyed adults to supervise the party.
No self-respecting Vegas nightclub would be decorated with cheesy birthday signs from the party store. Spell out "Happy Birthday" in poker chips glued to poster board. Hang it on the wall and surround it with twinkle lights so the message is visible. Add lamps, more twinkle lights and votive candle holders throughout the room to create ambiance. Finish off the room by hanging movie posters from classic movies about Las Vegas and gambling, such as "Ocean's Eleven" or "Casino."
You can't exactly allow a crowd of teenagers to gamble their allowance money, but some games of chance will make guests feel like they've stumbled into a casino. Hand out packs of cards so guests can play War or any other card games they know. Buy a miniature pool table that can be set up on a table top; buy some dollar-store prizes for the winner of each game. If these games aren't enough, set up your own racetrack. Leave the family dog alone and instead buy miniature wind-up toys that guests can race around the room.
Food and Drink
Real high rollers don't feast on pizza and soda as they roam around a casino, and neither should your party guests. Serve finger foods like bruschetta and chips and dip so everyone can keep one hand free to play games. Obviously you won't be serving any alcohol, but guests will feel very grown up drinking mocktails. Make Shirley Temples by mixing grenadine with lemon-lime soda or create Arnold Palmers by combining equal parts lemonade and iced tea. Serve drinks in plastic wine or martini glasses; lock up your liquor cabinet to make sure no one gets any ideas.
Party favors for 16-year-olds can be tricky, but making the bulk of the favors edible is always a safe bet. Fill bags with chocolate-covered coins so guests can get rich without even playing the slots. Order decks of cards printed with the date and the birthday girl's name and place one in each favor bag. Finish the bags with temporary tattoos. Even teens who think they're all grown up can get a laugh out of a stick-on cartoon character tattoo.
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