Traditional 18’s Ideas

The tradition of having the “18s” has been a must for debut parties for years.

It has been customary to have these 18s because it is a way of acknowledging the importance of the people in a debutante’s life.

Being part of the 18s is an honor because it means that the debutante feels that those people have contributed so much in her life. She feels that they have been part of what she is now and what she would become in the future and she would want to show that appreciation by giving credit where it is due.

The original 18s are 18 roses and 18 candles. As years passed, there came the addition of 18 treasures. The 18 roses symbolizes the 18 men in your life who has made an impact in your life. They may be a family member like an uncle perhaps, your godfather, brother or cousin. The 18 roses are also given to guys close to you, close friend, friend or classmate. 18 roses are usually done with the following ways: Your 18s will wait in line for a dance with you or they may also circle you and go toward the center when it is their time to dance. You may also have a different song for every rose or have just one song.

The 18 candles symbolizes the women in your life who are close to you and who you look up to as a role model in your life, those ladies who have been there for you. It may be ora family member, sister, aunt, godmother or cousin or your BFF. It may also be your teacher, a new acquaintance, a new friend, a classmate. The 18 candles are usually called to the stage, light the candle, make a speech and then put the lighted candle on a candle stand near the cake.

The 18 treasures are also 18 gifts, the purpose of which is to symbolize gift giving during a birthday so the 18 treasures are given to well-wishers. The 18 treasures can be for male and females but they are more for people who are older. The criteria is that they should be able to give you something. It may not always be money but since they are already stable, have work, giving you a gift or cash is just a second thing. They are older and wiser so they may give you advise on your journey toward adulthood. They may not know everything but they know something and they will just be happy to share them with you. Remember what they will advise you because that is what is really valuable and that will be your treasure. Usually 18 treasures are also called to the stage to give a speech, give the gift and then make a toast in honor of the debutante.

So, in essence, there is at least three basic 18s. The 18 roses, 18 candles and 18 treasures. The other 18s are just additional and are vague in its meaning. Their names are tweaked in order to adhere to a theme. This article will deal with renaming 18s based on different themes.

Angel Theme

For 18 candles, try 18 angels, 18 good deeds, 18 wings, 18 halos and 18 virtues (your virtues or virtues that you need in your adult life). Ask your 18 candles to choose from this list For 18 roses, try 18 cotton candy clouds, 18 white roses, 18 harp serenades and 18 angels . For 18 treasures, try 18 heaven’s blessings, 18 blessings, 18 graces, 18 gifts, 18 talents.

Black and White Theme

Like the black and white keys of a piano, for the 18s, you can have 18 ebonies for 18 roses and 18 ivories for 18 candles. You can also have 18 dark chocolates and 18 oreos for 18 roses. You can also have 18 white roses. You will put in black light on your stage, your 18 roses will don black outfits with white gloves so that in an unlit stage with only the black light on, only the gloves and white roses will be seen. For 18 candles, try 18 white balloons and 18 white swans. You can also have 18 glowsticks where your 18 candles will break the stick to make it glow before making a speech. For 18 treasures, try 18 sparkles, 18 gems, 18 jewels, 18 diamonds.

Butterfly themed debut party

For 18 roses, you can try 18 flowers because butterflies love all flowers in general and not just roses.

For your 18 candles, why not try 18 fireflies where before the 18 candles ceremony, you could dim the lights and ask you 18 candles to let their lighted candles dance mimicking a firefly taking flight. You could also put wings on your candles to make it look like a firefly.

For 18 treasures, you could have 18 seeds where it symbolizes the virtues that you need to have in your journey through life. Make sure no virtue is duplicated.

For 18 wines, you could have 18 toasts or 18 champagnes.


For your 18s, try the following:

18 Black Jacks for your 18 roses.

Substitute your 18 candles with 18 rolls of dice or 18 lucky rolls of dice. This symbolizes your guests wishing you luck in every endeavor. It is also like telling you that whatever life gives you, you would be able to handle it.

For 18 treasures, you should try 18 Poker Chips, 18 Vegas casinos, 18 Vegas Roulettes, 18 Jackpots and 18 Casino Royale.

Cherry Blossoms inspired debut party – Zen theme

For the zen theme, try the following substitutes for your 18s: 18 Cherry Blossoms for your 18 roses (go for pink or white malaysian mums or pink carnations for props since they resemble cherry blossoms), 18 japanese lanterns for 18 candles or 18 origamis where your 18 candles have written their speeches on a paper and folded it origami style. They will unfold the origami and read their speech, and 18 bonsais or 18 bento boxes for your 18 treasures/gifts.

Dance and Disco Theme

18 DJs, 18 rappers, 18 street dancers for 18 roses where they will rap or show a dance move before you join in. 18 dance showdowns, 18 hiphops, 18 grooves, 18 dance moves for 18 candles and 18 jazzy styles, 18 funky moves, 18 beat boxes, 18 cool grooves for 18 treasures.

Fairytale Theme

It depends on what fairytale you want. For instance, if you are supposed to be sleeping beauty, then 18 kisses (on the cheek) would not be a bad alternative for the 18 roses or instead of having different songs for your 18 roses dance, you could just have a grand waltz song for all 18 roses and call it The Royal Dance or The Grand Waltz. They would be circling you and would dance in a waltz, each of them cutting off every few stanzas of the waltz song.

Fashion Show / Runway Inspired Party

For a fashion show theme, you can replace your 18 roses with 18 fierce poses and 18 wacky poses, where each of your 18 roses will strike a pose at the center of the stage and then dance afterward. The poses can be funny or fierce – just talk it out with each one of your 18 roses and make each totally different. This will essentially be a photo-op so that you have a picture of all of your 18s. You can also have 18 pictures, 18 cameras and 18 polaroids.

You may also incorporate the fashion show when you are going to do your 18 candles where your friends are going to walk the stage (or a runway if you will be having one), strike a fierce pose and then render their speech.

For the 18 treasures, you can have 18 snag this style, 18 styles, 18 shopping bags where each 18 candles will describe why they chose that style for you or why they thought of you when they bought that gift, etc. You can also have 18 snapshots where your 18 treasures will make a speech and then take a snapshot of you.

Fashion / Gossip Girl Inspired Party / Sex and the City Inspired Party

Since the girls from Gossip girl love to party, you may replace 18 Roses with 18 champagne toasts or wines wherein your 18 Roses will first make a toast then dance with you. You can replace your 18 candles with 18 hats / 18 headpieces or 18 scarves. You may also want to try 18 Gossips where each friend will tell something personal about you. They will then make the guests guess whether such story is true or just gossip. For 18 treasures, you may try 18 fashion styles where they will give you some things that are fashion related like clothes, bags, shoes, etc.

Grecian Theme

For your 18s, you can try these:

  • 18 Torches for 18 candles (reminiscent of the Olympics).
  • 18 Priestesses can also substitute your 18 candles.
  • 18 Wines (because Goddesses love wine)
  • 18 Heroes can also replace your 18 roses
  • 18 Dieties, 18 Gifts to Troy (you being Helen of Troy), 18 Gift Bearers, or 18 Laurels to substitute your 18 treasures.
  • 18 Goddesses can also be used to replace 18 treasures. You can have a different goddess for each. This list of goddesses can help you. Copy and paste this to your browser if the link doesn’t work:
  • 18 Guardians for your 18 toasts

Halloween theme

18 spooky events, 18 jack o’ lanterns for 18 candles, 18 scariest things, 18 zombies, 18 scary costumes, 18 tricks and 18 mysteries for 18 roses, 18 treats, 18 candies for 18 treasures.

Hollywood / Grammy / Oscar’s Awards Night

Since Hollywood is all about awards and movies, you can substitute 18 Awards or 18 Statues for your 18 candles (where each will make a speech on why this award was given to you, etc).

For your 18 candles, you can have 18 Clappers where they would say “Lights, camera, action” before they make a speech.

You can also have 18 Awards to replace your 18 Treasures. Your 18’s will have to think of this. For instance, Award for being Miss Congeniality or Miss Talent, or Award for being a very good friend, with reasons why they chose it.) Make sure no award is duplicated. Have Oscar statuettes as props for a total award-winning moment.

For 18 roses, try 18 Movies / Films, 18 Movie Theme Songs or 18 Best Musical Scores where you will be dancing to their respective soundtracks. Songs to be played will be dependent on the movies that you pick. You could also go for the blockbuster movies from the year you were born up to present (making 18 movies in total) and dance to their theme song.

You can also substitute your 18 Roses with 18 Toasts to celebrate your 18 years on earth. The guy will first make a toast, have a speech, then dance with you.

Just for fun, before each dance, pose with your 18 Roses partner in front of a number of extras (actors) posing as paparazzi for the effect that you are a Hollywood star being followed by media men. Of course this can also serve as a photo opportunity for the both of you, so have your photographer take your “stolen” picture as well before dancing with your partner. It would be fun to think of different poses beforehand so that each picture you have with your 18 Roses has a different character from the other.

American Idol Themed Birthday Party

For your 18s, you can go with 18 favorite rock songs, 18 electric guitars, 18 rock bands, etc. If you want to have an American Idol inspired birthday, you can list 18 famous American idol contestants and use that for your 18s.

Your music for your 18 roses dance can be songs that have been played in American Idol. You can pattern your stage to that of American Idol’s and have a singing showdown with some of your 18s after which you will emerge as the winner. You can also do an AVP similar to what is being shown in American Idol when they are introducing the contestants.

Movie House Inspired debut party

For a movie themed 18th birthday celebration, you can replace 18 Treasures with 18 Popcorn Buckets. These 18 popcorn buckets will contain the gifts or treasures that your 18 Treasures want to give you.

For your 18 Candles, you can do 18 Movie Quotes. These quotes can either tell something about your personality or give you an advice about something. The traditional 18 Candles of a Debut is usually given to the debutant’s closest friends who can give an advice to “light” her path. The 18 Movie Quotes can serve this purpose very well.

Just like in the Hollywood theme, you can substitute your 18 Roses with 18 Musical Scores or 18 Movie Theme Songs to dance to.

Moulin Rouge

Replace 18 Candles with “18 CAN-CANdles”. Ask them to imitate a can-can dancer with legs flailing up and down before they make their speech or make them line-up and do the can-can first for a spectacular dance number. Making them wear a can-can costume wouldn’t hurt. This party will definitely be anything but boring.

For 18 roses, you can have 18 sitar players where you will be dancing with the accompaniment of a sitar player (guitar if a sitar is not available). You can also make use of songs from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack for the 18 roses dance.

Masquerade / Phantom of the Opera

“18 Candles” is still appropriate but candles in a candelabra would add more flavor to it. You can call it 18 Candelabras instead.

You can also use 18 Masks, which is sort of a surprise for the debutante. Each person would approach the stage concealed in a mask and then remove it to make a speech. This is going to be very dramatic and exciting because the 18th birthday celebrant doesn’t know that these people are part of the program.

On the other hand, 18 Masks, 18 Princes and 18 Music of the Night can also be used to replace 18 Roses. Each guy will approach the debutante with a mask on, and reveal himself to the audience by taking off the mask before dancing with the celebrant to classical or opera music.

You can opt to have the 18 grand royal dance where you will have just one waltz song to dance to and the men will have a stanza each until he is replaced by another man.


For the Pirates theme, your 18’s can be 18 flags for 18 candles where your 18 candles can elaborate on some of your victories and good qualities, 18 tiki torches is also great for 18 candles, 18 Swords for the 18 roses and 18 treasure chests, 18 rewards, 18 loot bags, 18 Treasures, 18 Islands or 18 Jewels of the Sea for 18 gifts/treasures.

Princess theme

18 princesses, 18 fair maidens, 18 damsels in distress for your 18 candles. 18 princes, 18 knights, 18 dukes, 18 kings for 18 roses. 18 treasures, 18 gems, 18 jewels, 18 crowns, 18 kingdoms for 18 gifts.

The grand Royal dance instead of the 18 roses where your 18 roses will be in a circle in the dance floor with you in the center, and then they will come up to you one by one and dance with you with just one single waltz song. For 18 candles, try 18 fair maidens, 18 flowers in the garden. For your 18 treasures try 18 fairy godmothers, 18 jewels, 18 tiaras, 18 crowns.

The Royal Dance where you will just have a single waltz dance with all your 18s. Your 18 roses will be in a circle in the dance floor and you will be at the center. You will be switching partner every stanza or so of the waltz. You can also have 18 kingdoms where the 18 princes will offer you their kingdom for a dance. 18 knights, 18 Lords, 18 Barons, etc. For 18 candles, try 18 baroness, 18 ladies, 18 damsels. for 18 treasures, try 18 treasure chests, 18 gems, 18 jewels.

Pool Party

You could have 18 floating candles where each of your 18 friends will place a floating candle on the pool and as it floats hopefully towards you. After placing the floating candle on the pool, they give their speech.

Rave and Glam Party

For 18 candles, try 18 Glowsticks. For your 18 Glowsticks, each of the person holding one will break the glowstick first to light it up before making a speech. This can create drama if you dim the lights. Try also 18 lighters instead of 18 candles.

For 18 roses, try 18 Tequilla Shots, or 18 champagnes where each of your 18 roses will toast before dancing with you. You can also have a TOP 18, (instead of the TOP 100 in music countdowns), where you and your 18 roses will dance to a favorite song of yours.

For 18 treasures, try 18 Keepsakes, 18 Mementos, 18 Fabulous Finds and 18 Glam Styles (in keeping with glam theme as well).

Rave in the 80’s

In the 1980’s, they used “jams” to mean a collection of songs or music. If you want your dance to be more upbeat, you can replace it with “18 Jams” where you have 18 different New Wave songs to dance to with the 18 special men in your life.

For your 18 candles, perhaps instead of using candles, you can use 18 Glowsticks since NEON was very significant in the 80s. You can replace your 18 candles with “18 Neons” or “18 Glows” or “18 Lights”.

Rock Glam Party

For your debut birthday party, you can substitute 18 guitars, 18 songs, 18 albums, 18 favorite bands for your 18 roses and candles.

For your 18s, you can have your 18 favorite rock songs played while dancing with your 18 Roses.


For your 18s during your debut celebration, you can replace 18 candles with 18 Touchdowns in which you, the debutante, will use some sort of ceramic football to put off the candles.

18 Torches can be used to replace your 18 Candles. Each of the torchbearers will make a wish for you before passing the torch to the next one (or passing the flame to another small torch being carried by another person, if you have the budget for 18 torches). The last torchbearer will be the one to light the flame cauldron, just like what they do when opening the Olympics.

18 Three-Point Shots can replace 18 roses in which the boys will have to shoot the ball first before dancing with you, debutant. Also 18 Toasts and 18 champagne can also be used for your 18 candles reminiscent of popping a champagne after a victory.

Finally, to replace 18 treasures, you can have the 18 MVP awards.

Starry Starry Night

For a Star-themed debut party, you can replace 18 Candles with 18 Twinkles where you can stick some paper stars on each candle for effect.

You can have 18 Magical Silver Dust where you can have your 18 wishes, make a speech and blow silver dust for a magical effect.

You can substitute 18 Sparkles for your 18 roses where the guys will make a toast first before dancing with you.

Season – Spring

For your 18 Candles, have your friends talk about 18 different important things you need. Since Spring is a time for rebirth, ask your 18s to make a list of important things you need in order to grow and be the best that you can be. It can be a virtue, a person, or a material thing — for example, LIFE, LOVE, FAMILY, HAPPINESS, FRIENDS, FUN, HONESTY, etc.

For your 18 roses, you can have 18 Flowers of Spring or just 18 Daisies. You can also replace 18 Roses with 18 Balloons where each of the balloon is tied to a flower. Just make sure that the flower is light enough for the balloon to carry towards the skies. Before dancing with you, your 18 roses will let go of the balloon with the flower.

Season – Winter

A Winter – themed birthday party can have a White and Silver motif. With this theme, you can still have 18 Roses, although instead of red ones, use white roses.

You can also have 18 Sparkling Wines (use white wines).

For 18 Candles, adorn your candles with silver and white ribbons in order to adhere to your theme.

Season – Christmas

You can replace your traditional 18 Roses with 18 Mistletoes, where your 18 Roses will kiss you (on the cheek) before dancing with you.

For more feel of the Christmas spirit, decorate your 18 Candles by placing red ribbons on them. You can also have 18 Balloons for that festive feel. Each of your 18 friends will pop each balloon as they make a wish for you.

Season – Whimsical Spring/Summer

You can substitute 18 Roses with 18 Blooms of May or 18 Flowers of May. It can also be replaced with 18 Summer Serenades, where you and your partner will be dancing to some happy tunes.

Sweet 18 Birthday

For 18 roses, you can have 18 sweets, 18 chocolates, 18 flowers (different kinds) 18 dances, 18 serenades, 18 gentlemen, etc. You can have 18 wines, champagne, cheers for 18 candles. For 18 roses, you can have 18 sweets, 18 chocolates, 18 flowers (different kinds) 18 dances, 18 serenades, 18 gentlemen, etc. For 18 treasures you can have 18 jewels, diamonds, balloons (they will pop a balloon before greeting you).

Tropical Birthday Bash

You can replace your 18 candles with 18 Bonfires, 18 Torches, 18 Tiki Torches or 18 Seashells, where you can decorate the candles with small shells or put them on huge seashells for a beach effect.

For your 18 Torches, you can simply just decorate the candles so that they look like torches. You can also have 18 Campfires, which your friends will light as they join together and bond. For your 18 Bonfires, your friends will get a lighted log from the bonfire as they make their speech.

For your 18 roses, you can substitute them with 18 Leis, 18 Balloons, 18 Garlands or 18 Corals.

For 18 treasures, try 18 Treasure Chests, 18 Jewels or 18 Gems. You can also have 18 Seashells where inside the seashells are wishes written on paper for the 18 treasures to read.

For 18 gifts, try 18 Cocktails where your 18s will make a speech, give a toast and then give you the gift.

For a Carribean / treasure hunt / Survivor theme, you can go for 18 flags for 18 candles where the 18s can elaborate on some of your victories and good qualities. 18 tiki torches for 18 candles and 18 treasure chest or 18 rewards for 18 gifts/treasures.

Mafia Wars Debut Party

Replace 18 roses with “18 Dons” (like Don Corleone of The Godfather) and address each of them with ‘Don’. For 18 candles, you may try 18 sparks, 18 dynamites (candles looking like dynamites), 18 grenades, 18 gunshots or 18 explosions. For your 18 Gifts/Treasures/Wishes/Toasts you can have “18 Pubic Enemies” or “18 Wanted People” — for the 18 Wanted men, you can design a poster for each of them including their names, physical description and some fictional mafia-related crimes together with their picture or caricature. You can also include what these people are worth in reward money then flash these posters on the screen using Powerpoint as you call on each of them.

Safari/Jungle Theme

For a safari or a jungle theme, i’m thinking of 18 explorers, 18 hunters, 18 adventurers, 18 treasure hunters for 18 roses, 18 maps, 18 tiki torches for 18 candles and 18 safaris, 18 journeys, 18 expeditions, 18 adventures, 18 treasure chests for 18 treasures.

Victorian Theme

Try 18 pair of gloves, 18 tiaras, 18 diamonds for 18 wishes or 18 treasures, 18 candelabras for 18 candles, 18 bouquets for 18 roses. You may have different types of love songs for each 18 roses. You may also have just one waltz music where your 18 roses either circle you or fall in line and take turns for a dance with you and you may call it the grand royal dance.

Vintage Debut Birthday Party

You can use 18 old songs instead of 18 roses, 18 candelabras instead of 18 candles and 18 nostalgias or 18 historical facts, in which your 18 treasures will share 18 fond memories about you.

Vintage Vogue Theme

vintage vogue, a fierce pose game would be great. Ask some of your guests to pose in their fiercest way and the audience will be the judge. You can also have a mini-fashion show with this as well. For your 18s, try 18 fierce poses, 18 poses for 18 roses where you and your partner will pose before dancing. 18 styles, 18 designers, 18 fashion icons, etc for 18 candles, and 18 memories, 18 vintage collections for 18 treasures or gifts.

White Party

You can have 18 Favorite Things substitute your traditional 18 Treasures, but you have to make sure these things are all in white.

For your 18 roses, you can have 18 white roses or any favorite flower of yours.

You can have 18 White Balloons so that your friends can present your 18 precious memories. For this, you or your friend can pop or prick the balloon (just like popping a thought bubble) to reveal a message or a story that you can reminisce about.

Other options can be 18 stuffed toys (white) and 18 white lanterns (to guide your journey through life).

301 thoughts on “Traditional 18’s Ideas

  1. Hi Viktoria,

    For 18 cheers, people will do a toast. They will wish you all the best for your future. 🙂

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