Sweet 16 candle centerpiece
sweet 16 party centerpiece

One of the most important birthdays in the life of girls is the Sweet 16 Celebration. I have ideas for Sweet 16 party decorations and rituals involving candles and candle holders. I’d like you to consider a wonderful, warm candle lighting ceremony that you can cater to your specific needs or situation. I have been researching candle ceremonies, as many of my regular readers know.

I found that a candle lighting ceremony, complete with a special Sweet 16 candle lighting centerpiece or set of candle holders can turn a bland gathering into a celebratory, special occasion to make lifetime memories for your teen and the entire family. Imagine what your teen is about to face these days! I think this rite of passage is important to illustrate to the birthday girl that family, friends and community value her. Your teen will need to know people care about her and want her to have a happy, successful life.



I would like you to consider adding a candle lighting ceremony to your plans for a Sweet 16 party. I found that Mexico, Latin American nations and Latina communities in the United States celebrate a female’s transition from girl to woman at the age of 15, or Quinceanera celebration. This rite of passage is a religious and social event that reinforces the importance of family and society in the female’s life.


In Spanish speaking cultures the birthday begins with a special mass for the girl, her parents and godparents. Mass is followed by a reception attended by friends and family. The reception is filled with music, food, dancing and well-wishing.

The birthday girl will often have a “court of damas” or maids of honor and possibly chamberlains, which would be male friends or siblings. The celebration can be elaborate or simple, depending on the resources of the family. Some families will have extravagant wedding-like catered affairs. Others are happy with a gathering of people wherever they will be comfortable to express their best wishes to the young woman.

No matter whether the 15th or 16th birthday is chosen by your culture to honor your child, the idea is the same. This is a special year that marks her entrance into society as a young woman, where different behavioral rules will apply. You want your child to know that she is loved and valued as she passes through these years of rapid change.

You can decide your own format for the party of your choice. There are speeches from party goers or parents. Sometimes, you can choose a symbolic event to formally denote your teenager’s passage through time. For example, one tradition involves the birthday girl “handing down” a doll to a younger female sibling, to represent the passing down of childhood ways to the next child. If there is no female sibling, one could vary the ceremony to have the birthday girl “hand down” a favorite toy to a younger brother.

If there are no siblings, there is always the symbolic “changing of shoes” where the birthday girl dons a pair of high heeled shoes for the first time, symbolizing her reaching young womanhood. I have read about celebrations that feature a dance by the birthday girl and her father, if possible. There could be many high points to the evening!


Here’s the Sweet 16 Candle Lighting Ceremony basics. As stated above, feel free to personalize the ritual according to your own needs.

In one scenario, the birthday girl calls people up to celebrate with her by lighting a candle. The birthday girl could speak about the influence given her by the person who lights the candle. She can speak about the special guidance of a person or some other attribute of the relationship as she calls up to 15 people up to light individual candles in the candle centerpiece. The candle sets featured on this page are merely suggesstions. They can be used for 15 year old girls and 16 year old girls. They can be simple or elaborate: that’s up to you.

Another variation of the ceremony involves the family head leading the candle lighting ceremony by expressing their hopes and dreams for the girl. They could invite specific people up to the candelabra to light a candle while speaking about their relationship with the birthday girl.

You can create a specific plan according to your needs and desires. There is a lighting order for the candles traditionally. You may want to plan your own ceremony according to these candle lighting practices:


Candle 1 is for the parents.

Candle 2 is for siblings, if any. If no siblings, then grandparents.

Candles 3 through 6 are for aunts, uncles, cousins or other family members.

Candles 7 through 14 are for specially chosen people who have close relationships with the celebrant, like teachers, clergy or others in the community.

Candle 15 is for the best male or female friend.

Candle 16 is for a male – either a friend or boyfriend.

Note: Candle 17 is for the Sweet 16 party only. Its use is to symbolize good luck for the future.

Warm words and hugs should accompany each lighting of a candle. You could have the guests and family say a few words as they come up to light a candle. Or, you could have the birthday girl choose her own participants and decide whether she wants to speak about them or vice versa. People have both sometimes, since girls in this age group certainly have a lot to say to each other!

Another variation has the birthday girl lighting the candles while she speaks about the people she has chosen to be part of the celebration. If you invite guests up to say some words, it’s great to prearrange this – some people get tongue tied and need the preparation time.

Some families choose to have a musical accompaniment to the candle lighting ceremony. Specific songs could be played while certain friends and family come up to light the candles. Each song should evoke a memory or relationship with that individual.


I wrote this post to help people looking to celebrate Sweet 16 birthday parties. The post discusses the influence of the Mexican-inspired Quinceanera celebration. I believe the Spanish speaking tradition of marking a girl’s 15th birthday is more religious and highlights the goodness of the birthday girl as well as her family and well-wishers as she continues her journey through life.

God knows how important these teenage years are in the lives of our children. Especially today, with all the negative influences there are to shield from and educate about, the celebration of your teen’s coming of age can be quite stressful for onlookers. These young adults need to feel as loved as you can make them, while introducing them to society and the adult relationships they will now form.

The candle lighting ceremony is a perfect way to stop the festivities for a few moments to solemnly and gratefully acknowledge positive forces in the young woman’s life. It’s a sure way to communicate your love to your child, your family and friends. Thanks for reading and I hope I gave you ideas to help your family make memories and happy occasions.

This site is always under construction. My aim is to blog about candles, their holders and uses for anyone looking for ideas. If you have comments, concerns or just want to share your experiences, I would love to hear from you. Just fill out the comment box and I will reply within 24 hours.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *