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Let's Party!

April 10, 2012 by by Angela Geiser,

Katy Perry’s popular “Last Friday Night”music video depicts everything parentsfear most about in a teen get-together:Kids passed out in the yard, glitt er all overthe room, plastic yard flamingos floating in the pool. But teenage parties don’t have to involve mess and risky behavior. With a little ingenuity and maybe some help from the adults, teens can create fun and hip theme parties that will be a hit with their friends without scaring mom and dad.

Parties can come in as many themes as teens can dream – from classics like luau sand beach parties, to take offs on modern shows like The Amazing Race or The Avengers, to funky creations of their own making. For inspiration, we spoke to several local kids and parents who shared stories of successful theme parties. 

Julia Aufricht, 14, of San Jose, and her parents planned a birthday bash with a Survivor theme that the guests went wild over.“The party was so fun because we all really got in toit!” Julia says. “We were all very competitive, wanting the secret prize and the bragging rights, of course.”The setting was the Aufrichts’ backyard, decorated with torches, coconuts and tiki heads. Lunch featuredtropical treats, such as pineapple and fruit smoothies. 

Julia divided guests into two teams of six girls eachand, as in the show, slowly whitt led the teams downas they competed in individual challenges. Challenge sincluded eating a bowl of whipped cream to uncover a piece of gum and then blowing a bubble; standing on one leg and other gymnastic feats; racing with acoconut on a spoon and assembling a puzzle. Guestscould try the challenges even if they were no longer in the running, and the last girl standing won a gift card toYogurt and. Nerf Wars and Cool Cars 

Continuous action was also a key ingredient of a NerfWar party that Jill Kilcourse of Walnut Creek held forher 10-year-old, Jack, and which a friend later repeated for her teenage son. The Kilcourses have two boys, sothey already had an impressive supply of Nerf guns andammunition vests. They only had to buy some extradarts. 

To set the scene as the boys arrived, the Kilcoursesdisplayed the guns, darts, vests and requisite safety glasses on several tables, all sorted by color and type.The guests loaded up excitedly and ran out to theKilcourses’ horse corral, where Jack and his parents hadcreated a challenging battle zone by laying several tables on their sides and building other barricades and shields.“Th e boys had a great time,” Kilcourse says. “Th ey ranaround, ate lots of good food and were tuckered out by the end of the party.

”When throwing a Nerf War party, the host can also set up targets for guests to shoot at with suction darts.Velcro darts stick well to polyester shirts, so prizes can also be given for the guests with the fewest darts stuck to them after the battle. As party favors, the Kil courses’ teenage friend gave out tins of caramel corn with Nerfdarts on top.entertainment. 

A photo scavenger hunt during Claire Pockell-Wilson’s party inWalnut Creek included a stop for a tasty treat.PHOTO BY JENNIFER POCKELL-WILSON Content is copyright protected and provided for personal use only - not for reproduction or retransmission. For reprints please contact the

For their older son, Will, the Kilcourses hosted a cool car party. For decoration, Will and his family hung posters of muscle cars on walls and displayed their collections of license plates and Hot Wheels. The guests brought bikes to ride on tracks in the horse corral. They all got to hang out for a while in a friend’s vintage Corvette and celebrated with a cake decorated with hotrods. 

Capping off the day, a family friend showed up ina brand new Mercedes Benz and took Will and a friendout for a cruise. Sweet Scavenger Hunt. 

The little details were the icing on the cake at ClairePockell-Wilson’s 13th birthday celebration – a photo scavengerhunt with a cupcake theme. Claire loves to bake, so the invitations featured cupcakes; the scavengerhunt list included baked goods and the prizes were baking tools. 

Claire, who lives in Lafayette, divided the guestsinto two teams – the Cupcakes and the Cookies – andgave each team a bag, the safety rules, $20, a Starbucksgift card, a map of Walnut Creek and a long list of itemsand activities they needed to chronicle on their cameraphones. The girls took photos of themselves as a makeup artist applied eye shadow on them at Sephora, as they bought accessories at Claire’s and tried on silly outfitsand shoes at Betsey Johnson and H&M. They videotapedthemselves singing “Happy Birthday” loudly in public. 

Claire’s mom, Jennifer, went downtown with a friend before the event to create the hunt list and stayed nearby during the fete so the girls could check in with her.“It took a lot of planning, but was well worth it,”Pockell-Wilson says. “All the girls had fun, and we have some hilarious memories.

”A Day at the SpaSandy de la Cruz of Martinez wanted to pamper her teenage daughter for her birthday. She arranged for her to visit Unity Salon & Spa in Pleasant Hill along with five friends, where stylists did their hair and off eredmanicures and pedicures.“While they had their hair in curlers or were waiting for their feet to dry, they ate cupcakes, munched on chips, drank sparkling cider and dipped fruit in a chocolate fountain,” de la Cruz says.

Looking beautiful, the girls then met six of their guy friends for a day on the town, including a teppan yaki lunch and a movie.

Let the Games Begin Francine Zayala of South San Francisco says her preteen son, Dominic, is a “huge video game nerd,” so for his birthday she threw him a party themed, “GetYour Game On!” Zayala ordered invitations and a cake in the shape ofa game controller. But the highlight of the party was the20-foot Games2U gaming truck.

The truck contains all the major gaming systems,large plasma screens, tons of game choices and a game coach, says Maria Guterman, the Games2U franchiseefor the Peninsula. Games2U also offers guided outdoor games, including laser tag, giant hamster balls for humans and Booger Wars – which comes with two sixfoot-tall noses filled with “booger” balls. The truck costs $269 for 90 minutes; outside games are extra.

To go with the game truck, families have created “Double-Dare” parties and Mario Bros. parties. At a spy-themed shindig, the guests played “capture the spymessage” like capture the flag and they modified laser tag so each team had to protect a guest “president.”To carry out her games theme, Zayala also leased a bounce house with giant boxing gloves so the boyscould have matches.“I was really trying to make this an easy house party,”Zayala says. “The Games2U gaming truck was a hit and really made the party much more innovative than Ianticipated.”Game on!