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It’s your birthday and you have a dilemma: your child is completely over Paw Patrol and My Little Pony, but still wants to have a party, and you still want it to be a magical, unforgettable celebration. So what’s a parent to do? Check out our birthday party ideas for 11-12 year olds and find some fantastic and fun ideas for boys and girls. Then sit down with your birthday boy or girl and plan! (And for siblings, be sure to check out our other age-appropriate birthday party ideas!) Finally, keep scrolling to the end for 14 NO-FAIL GIFT IDEAS for boys and girls!
Fun Party Places For 11 Year Olds
It’s time to party! A fun idea would be to rent a photo booth and get a bunch of props to use!
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First things first – let’s go over some obvious reminders that can be repeated. First, be careful with guests. Get to know your child’s friends and think about who gets invited and who doesn’t. Be aware that word gets around fast about parties and there may be some kids on social media at this age (although the recommended age is 13+) which helps spread the fire. Giving your child a gentle reminder that it’s best to keep your conversations private can help prevent anyone from getting hurt.
Plus, having a regular schedule of events and activities will keep things moving along and keep everyone engaged, which can keep things from getting too wild – or boring. Even if it’s just a timing approach, having a general idea of the activities and the order in which they will be done will keep things flowing smoothly – which is always a win-win!
Nothing beats a good old fashioned slumber party and it’s an activity that works for boys or girls. Clear space on the game room floor for sleeping bags and queue up a list of fun movies to watch all night long. For age-appropriate suggestions, Common Sense Media offers a wide range of ideas and provides thorough reviews from its team of parent reviewers.
A fun twist on this idea could be a backyard campout. Hang a sheet and cut out an affordable projector and you have a big screen experience outside.
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Complete the experience by purchasing inexpensive popcorn containers for each guest and a large bag of popcorn (or bring your own) to fill them. Also, stop by the pharmacy to get candy canes, just like they have at the theater. And don’t forget the drinks!
A scavenger hunt is a great group activity that you can do with as few as four kids in two groups, and there are two ways you can approach this activity. First, you can have a simple list of things for each team to collect, find or do and return to “base” in a set time. Or, you can plan the hunt in advance by hiding prizes and gifts in a series of predetermined destinations that will also have the upcoming sign. These hunts can be done in the house or yard, around the neighborhood, around a park, or anywhere there is enough space. You can even have a few adults lead the teams if you want to take the hunt across town. Get creative!
Keep the action going with a party that focuses on a specific activity – skating, go-karts, cages, mini golf, escape rooms, arcades, bounce houses, pottery or painting places, or any destination and activity like these. You can often find a party package cheaper than individual tickets for each guest (depending on the size of your guest list), and packages often include a staff member running the party program. Be sure to find out how many guests can be included, whether or not the cake is provided or you’ve brought your own, the length of time included in the party package, etc.
A fun way to celebrate a birthday is on wheels! Bonus points for partying in matching socks!
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If you choose to have your 11-12 year old party somewhere (a la go-kart, escape room, etc.) then pizza is always a sure hit. Make sure you get plenty of plain cheese and a smaller amount of pepperoni for the more adventurous eaters. If you’re hosting the party at home, the options are endless! You can enjoy a taco or nacho buffet where each guest makes their own just the way they like it. Or you could grill burgers and dogs and serve them with chips and salad. You could even order a jumbo sandwich from your local grocery store and get a few different items for variety.
If you eat at home, don’t forget utensils, plates, cups and napkins. Disposable (preferably compostable) is easier, no doubt, but even sturdy plastic plates that you can easily throw in the dishwasher are fine too. A fun idea is to include a reusable curly straw that you can take home with guests as part of your party favors.
Finally, LET THEM EAT THE CAKE! If you’re an experienced (or passionate) DIYer and want to bake your kid’s cake, go for it! Alternatively, you can go to a big box grocery store and get a custom cake or do a quick Google search for a local baker in your town who can make something special and one of a kind.
Now that we’re in the age of COVID, many guests may feel better having individual cupcakes instead of a piece of cake that the birthday boy or girl has blown out candles on. You can still party with the whales, just in an individual cupcake.
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While the phrase “goody bag” has a decidedly youthful feel, everyone still loves a good party favor at any age. So give the people what they want! If you’re doing a scavenger hunt, send the participants off the hunt with a fabric bag with their name on it (make up the letter to win!!), and the gift bag can be made during the hunt – put in the appropriate number . prizes or gifts at each stop on the hunt, and can be collected in bags. If you choose to go the movie route, fill the popcorn bucket with candy and other trinkets related to the movie being shown. Another fun idea that works as an activity is to tie an item – t-shirt, bandana, socks… anything really! Or consider buying pens and plastic frames. Let everyone decorate their own, take a group photo of the party crew and print photos on your home printer or send an adult to print them at the pharmacy. Each guest can go home with a treasured photo to remind them of how much fun they had!
Coming up with birthday gift ideas for 11 and 12 year olds doesn’t have to be difficult. There are many options available ranging from educational to artistic to just plain fun! Here are some great ideas that are sure to be fun!
Way with this LED light kit from Amazon. Control the colors and light patterns via Bluetooth and the compatible app and they will glow brightly at night! Get these for $29.99.
Every tween has their favorite music – entertain them while you listen with this adorable happy face pillow and Bluetooth speaker from Urban Outfitters. The 14-inch round pillow is Bluetooth-enabled for pairing with iPods or cell phones and has a playful checkerboard pattern. Get it for $38.
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Sports fans at home will love Tangle NightBall Basketball. Give it a dribble and the motion-activated guiding lights light up to give the ball a heavenly glow. Enjoy the game well into the night with this unique sports gift. Get it from Fat Brain Toys for $25.95.
Inspire a love of a slower, mind-bending activity with this kids’ chess set from Etsy. The portable set also includes backgammon so you can learn the classic game now. The solid beech wood board is hand carved and varnished and can be personalized for an added touch. The set includes 32 chess pieces and 32 plush-bottomed pieces, as well as a pair of dice, all stored in a compact branded case. Get it for $259.99.
Retro is so in right now, which means both of you will LOVE having your own record player. This Crosley Radio Cruiser Deluxe Platinum mixes the best of old and new as you can enjoy the classic sound of vinyl but with modern Bluetooth compatibility. Available in tourmaline or white sand options, find the record player for $69.95 at Nordstrom.
For the fashion-focused tween, a