16 Surprises for a 16th Birthday


Sixteen is one of those birthdays that marks a significant milestone.  It’s an onramp to new freedom and choices with the introduction of the driver’s license.  For some, it is also the big transition into the dating world.

For all, though, it is a mental marker that this once-child is growing up and is close to being a young adult. We want to celebrate that and make it memorable.

In our family, my nephew, Gabe, is always the first for everything.  King of the cousins, he is the revered one.  Handsome, incredibly intelligent, thoughtful, giving, faith-filled, athletic… this one has it all.  If you have a daughter around his age, we’ll begin taking applications once he hits about 23.

Because this was Gabe’s big 16 this year, my sister, Kendra, from As You Wish Design, and I wanted to come up with something unique and fun. We decided that 16 surprises spread throughout the day would make him feel very special.

Here are the 16:

1. The morning began with breakfast in bed.  A tradition my sister has always done with her kids.  

2. A pack of “5” gum hidden in his backpack (“You make our family of 5 complete)

3. A decorated locker (wtih the help from some friends)

4. White Chocolate Mocha given by a friend at the start of school

5. 16 pizzas delivered (by mom) to the lunch cafeteria.  

{This one was Gabe’s favorite of all 16}

6. Kendra emailed his Spanish Teacher and they sang “Feliz Cumpleanos” in class.

7. Licorice bucket for the soccer team at practice.

8. A photo collage was put on his Facebook wall from his aunt/uncle/cousins from Seattle.

9. His uncle/aunt/cousins from Santa Barbara sent him this crazy video on his phone.

*Note: we have a thing about The Blair Witch Project.  It’s been a tradition that my brother does spoofs on this for milestone birthdays.  Noted & Warning: we are not a normal family.

10. Superman travel mug and a Gonzaga sticker {from me} found in his new ride.

(The matching Superman shirt was not planned…. he seriously just happened to be wearing it that day!  I got him that cup for obvious reasons.  He IS Superman in my eyes).

11. A note written on his bathroom mirror.

12. Subway gift card attached to his Sonicare.

 “I feel like a sandwich.  Hey, I think I’ll DRIVE there to get one!”

13. Car essentials from his Dad

(with a poem attached to his keys sending him on a scavenger hunt to find it).

14. Dried Mangoes (another fav).

“You Mango us so proud!”

15. Ping Pong balls with a note attached from his mentor

(they always play ping pong together).

16. His grandparents gave him 16 pennies, 16 nickels, 16 dimes, and 16 quarters all taped together.

The surprises were a huge hit and it turned out to be a fantastic way to celebrate this 16 year old that we all love so much!

Happy 16 Gabe!!!


14 comments… add one
  • Shannon November 19, 2016, 7:34 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have two daughters. My oldest had a sweet 16 party with two of her friends. That didn’t work out for my soon to be sweet 16. I was wondering how to make it even. I think this Will do the trick. Thanks again!

    • Krista November 21, 2016, 1:51 am

      I’m so glad Shannon! Let me know how it goes – she will be so blessed and LOVE IT!

  • Verna January 10, 2018, 6:09 am

    This is just what I needed for my grandson who is turning 16..what a fantastic idea..Thanks for sharing..

    • Krista January 30, 2018, 10:19 pm

      What a fantastic Grandma you must be! Way to go Verna!!!

  • Natalie April 10, 2018, 9:15 pm

    I think of my son the same way and was in tears by the time I finished your post! What a sweet mom you are. What a way to make him feel loved! I love this idea!

    • Krista May 14, 2018, 6:26 am

      Thank you! I so appreciate you taking the time to comment. Hope you can use the idea 🙂

  • Tina April 14, 2018, 3:20 pm

    I love these ideas!!! My son is turning 16 in February and I’m already planning on making it a BIG deal! So this has been great! He LOVES pizza and dried mangos as well!

    • Krista May 14, 2018, 6:27 am

      Yes, Tina, mangoes and pizza is a sure-fire combination 🙂 Hope you had a wonderful celebration!!!

  • Samantha February 28, 2019, 9:14 am

    Thank you my SOn turns 16 this year in May and I am planning it frm now already super excited.. BUt boys his age dont get excited abt much but I love making a Big Deal of their birthdays his a super special Son.

    • Krista March 1, 2019, 1:35 am

      Oh I’m so glad Samantha! Good job – you are one special mama :).

  • Alice March 3, 2019, 2:26 am

    What a wonderful surprise.. My son will be 16 at the end of this month, this will be a wonderful surprise for him. Thank you for sharing..

    • Krista March 6, 2019, 8:17 pm

      So fun Alice! Have a great time and tag me on Instagram or FB if you have pics!

  • Carole Wilcox March 15, 2019, 4:45 am

    I stumbled on your post on Pinterest. Our grandson turns 16 on Mar 18th
    and this gives me a few ideas. I love the coins idea. Boys can be so hard
    to buy for. Love your ideas….you sound like a fun family.

    • Krista April 10, 2019, 3:39 am

      Thank you Carole! Yes agreed on the boys 🙂 We’ve had so much fun with this!

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