Teenage years can be an awkward time when it comes to birthdays. Your child feels too old for a kids' party, but they're not old enough to go out to bars or clubs. A birthday meal is the perfect solution. It feels more mature than a party, but there's still room for plenty of friends to attend. If your child's at an age where they find spending time with family awkward, you can let them have the meal with friends only, dropping them off and picking them up at the end.
But which restaurant should you choose? You'll need to consider the size of the restaurant, the type of food it serves, the price and the atmosphere. Follow the pointers below and you can't go wrong.
They're happy to have excitable teens around
Some restaurants are happy to cater to families, young children and teens, while others may not be. Check out the restaurant beforehand, or ask if they're happy to host a large party of young teens - this way you'll avoid tutting, eye rolling, or requests for your teen and their friends to quiet down. Very expensive restaurants often expect diners to behave in a certain way, while mid-priced restaurants tend to be more relaxed and easy-going. If a restaurant has a kids' menu, high chairs or a play area, it's likely to be more welcoming to young diners.
There are plenty of large tables
Some restaurants just aren't made to cater to large groups. Try to pick a place which has plenty of large tables and allows you to reserve beforehand. Even better, pick a place that has a specific room for private parties - these are often really affordable and make the whole experience feel more special.
They cater to different dietary requirement
There's nothing worse than a birthday meal where half the group can't find anything to eat, or the friend with a nut allergy has to bring their own food. Ask your teen to ask all of their friends about any dietary needs or preferences, and call the restaurant beforehand to make sure they can be catered to. If the group have quite varying tastes, an all you can eat restaurant with foods from different cuisines is a great choice.
There's a fun atmosphere
Don't forget to pick a place your teen actually likes. This could be a novelty themed restaurant, like an old-style American diner, somewhere with cool decor, a restaurant inside an interesting museum, or a place that serves unusual food. Take some time to check out review sites and pictures together to find the perfect place.