Turning 16 is a big deal for a girl; here's how one woman threw the perfect Sweet Sixteen party for a very special teen.
It was the most important event to date in my relationship. I had been with my boyfriend for over six years, and this, above all else, would be the benchmark for our compatibility. This was going to define for him what kind of woman I was, to prove my love and devotion, my dedication, my willingness to go above and beyond in the name of our commitment to one another. Was I throwing him a party? Oh heck no, that would have been easy.
No, I was in charge of his daughter's Sweet Sixteen.
This party would not be an MTV-style My Super Sweet Sixteen; for one thing, we just aren't rich people. There was no way that I was going to try to throw one of those hall-renting, caterer-calling, limo-arriving, deejay-playing kind of soirees on our budget. But there was another, more important reason to skip the big bash: The birthday girl didn't actually have enough friends to invite. Instead, I opted for something small and simple, but no less glamorous.
There is a small motel in our hometown called Adventure Suites. They have themed rooms for families: The Cave, the New York Suite, the Beach, and Showtime. Showtime was the room I chose, and I built the whole theme of the party around this. The room had a ten foot movie screen with "theater seating" (leather sofas and recliners) for five and a movie theater popcorn machine. There was a jacuzzi tub in an elevated room with windows that face the screen. With this movie screening room as the backdrop, I built from there.
Early in the day, we had a cook out and family party. The birthday girl was told that she could invite as many friends as she wanted to this portion of the festivities; she was also told to pick her three best girlfriends to join her for phase two of the party. These girls were told what to bring, but not what the surprise was.
After things at the cookout wound down, I took the girls to the local mall for a scavenger hunt. I had prearranged for several shops at the mall to hold packages I had wrapped. Each package contained a clue to the theme of the night: One package contained outrageous movie star sunglasses for each girl, another held popcorn, a third had some videos. I wanted the girls to guess "movies" but not to really have a clue what was to come.
While we were scavenging, Dad went to the room and decorated with star shaped balloons and streamers. He brought a blender, so I could mix non alcoholic frozen drinks, and lots of snacks. I had a small film roll-shaped cake, ordered from a local grocery store. I had also made up inexpensive "swag bags" for the girls, with wraps to wear out of the jacuzzi, lotion, candles, photo frames and a few other fun trinkets.
Once the girls had finished the hunt and guessed (much to my amusement) that I was taking them to the drive in, I blindfolded them all and drove them to the motel. The staff helped me to lead them into the room with their eyes closed and we sprung the surprise on them there. I have never seen four more astounded or excited teen aged girls. The Princess (for yes, on this one day, she was a princess) got a kiss from her dad, and he departed for home. The girls and I had the most amazing night, watching movies and eating popcorn and gummy bears and soaking in the hot tub.
I was indeed the "best dad's girlfriend in the universe" for quite some time, and the party has become a thing of legend at school. The whole day, from beginning to end, only ended up costing about $600 -- far less than any big catered bash -- and the girls all agreed that it was even more fun than any big party could have been.
Ruth-Ann Brown contributed this essay to Holidash via Seed. To find out how you can become a Holidash contributor, go to Seed.com.