Photographs by Diana Feil
Tossing a party for a teen that includes adults is tricky business. What works for one group often doesn’t appeal to the other. Quite frankly, it’s enough to make a grown woman sweat bullets (been there, done that). LA-based caterer and “party thrower” Annie Campbell recently did a bar mitzvah celebration at the hosting family’s home that I think perfectly addressed that issue. The soiree was a decidedly elegant affair, with 40 adults and 20 kids.
During dinner, there were separate seating areas and menus for the adults and kids. While the adults were served beef short ribs, cedar planked salmon, rosemary polenta and a cauliflower tagine, the kids enjoyed more casual fare. The kids’ buffet was crafted with input of the celebrated boy. It included poke, coconut shrimp, dumplings, grilled steak, five-cheese mac ’n’ cheese, Caesar salad and french fries.
The partyscape centered around a glorious mature oak tree in the backyard. Twinkle lights were strung in the trees and hanging rattan lanterns were hung in a tent erected for the kids and around the dinner tables. Inside the tent: low lounge seating for the kids, layered bohemian rugs and a beautiful tablescape.
The principal entertainment was a concept called a silent disco, where kids can put headphones on and listen to different playlists at the same time. “It is relatively new in the last few years. It is often used at venues with noise ordinances in order to dance into the wee hours. In this instance, the son knew about it and requested it,” shares Annie.
A DJ presided over another playlist that catered to adults. A pergola, strung with twinkling lights, served as the dance floor.
Overall, it was a custom evening that reflected the celebrated teenager and provided the perfect backdrop to entertain his friends yet with a chic and sophisticated vibe befitting of the adult guests.
Here are Annie Campbell’s 5 Teen Party Tips:
- GET AN IDEAL SPACE
Choose a venue that allows the kids to be independent and have their own space. It’s important to create a kid zone with enough space to move around. Teens are active at a party!
2. KEEP IT SIMPLE
It can be easy to go overboard on a kids party. It’s not necessary to have a million games and activities. It’s more important to have one or two great activities with thoughtful touches. Think quality over quantity.
3. PLAN WITH THE GUEST OF HONOR IN MIND
Make sure that the celebrated teen’s interests are incorporated into the decor and overall vibe of the party. Honoring their authenticity is a way to make them feel special.
4. FOCUS ON FOOD FAVORITES
Include the teen’s favorites on the menu. Comfort foods are always a crowd pleaser. For example, the mac ’n’ cheese and french fries were a hit at this particular party.
5. DO CASUAL SEATING
Create an informal seating area for teen dining. Kids typically prefer lounge seating and a buffet over a seated dinner, as they don’t like to stick to one spot.