What is Sweet Sixteen and How to Celebrate It?

Who doesn’t like the excitement of a sweet sixteen-birthday party?

You might be the one celebrating or the one throwing the party for your daughter, son, niece, nephew or a close friend and are completely overwhelmed by the planning, traditions, themes and everything that makes it perfect. Well, fear not, because you, my friend will get all the help you will need in making a dream come true.

Different cultures celebrate the coming of age in different forms and call it differently. If it is “sweet sixteen’s” in North America then “Quinceañras” in Latin American and it was a lot different during the 1600’s in England Where the young girls were introduced out in the society for marriage. But people have started celebrating sweet sixteen both for boys and girls on their 16th birthday.

You are encouraged to choose traditions and customs special to you to add to the celebration and customize the party as you wish. That would make it unique and very special.

History, Tradition, and evolution of sweet 16

Primarily, a sweet sixteen celebration is a birthday party to cheer a teen as she enters young adulthood. It seems to have originated in Europe during the Victorian times, introducing young women, coming of age, into the society, preferably to find eligible bachelors for marriage.

Thanks to modernization and women’s rights, these celebrations, with time, have lost their ethnicity and society no longer finds it necessary for a girl to wed at the age of sixteen.

Today Girls don’t wed at sixteen but still celebrate sweet sixteen and some traditions are kept, embracing religious customs and family virtues, and highlighting family, friends, food, music, and dance.

It is customary for the celebrant teen to wear a ball gown and be given the following traditional ceremony gifts, each having a special meaning to it. You can include them in your party.

  • Tiara – a princess before God and the world
  • Cross or a medal – Signifies faith in God and herself and the strength to face challenges ahead
  • Bible (or a prayer book) and Rosary – to be lead by God’s word
  • Scepter – symbolizing authority and responsibility
  • Flower Bouquet and Cake Decoration

Sweet 16 Party traditions worth keeping

Sweet 16 Party traditions worth keeping

The Candle Ceremony

Sixteen Candle are lit with each representing a special person in the teen’s life; Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunt and uncles, teachers and close friends.

Something nice about each person is said as they approached to light a candle. Finally, all 16 candles are arranged on the cake and guests sing the birthday song.

Father-Daughter Dance

It’s a moment to cherish when the father dances with his “little girl” as the guest gather around to watch the first dance of the occasion.

Passing the heirlooms

The birthday girl, passing down a favorite doll or toy to her young sister or cousin.

The shoe exchange and the Crowning Ceremony

During the evening, the father or the uncle approaches with high heels on a decorative pillow; he helps her remove her flat shoes and replaces them with the heels and the mother gifts a tiara and places it on her head.

Let’s Make Sweet Sixteen Trendier


  • Your entire party should be based around your theme.
  • The dress color, over the years, has evolved and become bolder and brighter. The color of the dress can drive the overall theme of the Party.
  • Movies and novels are interesting choices for a theme. Fairytale, Twilight, Hollywood or red carpet, are a few attractive options.
  • Other fun themes could be the beach themed party, chocolate party, themes based on games like tag or cops and robbers, night-time themes like glow in the dark, under the stars, slumber party etc.
  • Once you have decided on the theme, music, cake design, venue, decoration, games and activities can be arranged accordingly. This will help you throw the best event ever.

Fun Activities of a Sweet Sixteen

  • One of the main things in a party is music and dance floor. A good band or DJ can keep the party going all night.
  • Outdoor fun. If you organize an outdoor party then you might as well make use of the space. A massive movie screen, Barbeque pit, Scavenger hunt, Lake party, Pool games etc. will keep the event going energetic.
  • Photo Booth with props and glitter is always a plus.

Sweet sixteen parties can range from modest backyard parties to fancy venues, gowns, and fortune. But the main essence of the party is to celebrate a person growing mature, leaving their childish days behind and taking up responsibility.

This celebration is to assure the support and encouragement of close friends and family with the promise of love.

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