Teen Café Night

By Deban Becker

This program is adapted from the “Coffeehouse Programs” chapter in 101+ Teen Programs that Work by Rosemary Honnold.

Length of Program

60-90 minutes

Program Description

Get in the mix! Invite teens to socialize with their friends, make crafts, and relax with a beverage of their choice at the library. This could be a warm cup of hot chocolate, mocha, or tea or a cool frappuccino, smoothie, or soft drink. If you are unable to provide programming at night, simply open the Café during the day!

Developmental Needs and Assets

Teens need a space that they can identify as their own. The library can provide a great space for teens to participate in creative activities and youth programs. At a Teen Café Night, teens have an open forum to share what they are feeling, doing, reading, or thinking, and simply relax from the stress of everyday life. Attending a program like Teen Café Night enables teens to develop interpersonal competence, such as showing empathy, sensitivity, and friendship to others.

Books to Display

Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty by Jody Elizabeth Gehrman.

Death by Latte by Linda Gerber.

The Girls by Tucker Shaw.

Must Love Black by Kelly McClymer.

Teens Cook Dessert by Jill Carle and Megan Carle.

Books to Share or Booktalk

Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen.

How to (Un)cage a Girl by Francesca Lia Block.

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak.

Partly Cloudy: Poems of Love and Longing by Gary Soto.

Triple Shot Bettys in Love by Jody Elizabeth Gehrman.

Preparation and Promotion

Prior to the event, set your programming space up “café-style”. Place small round or card tables around the room with tablecloths on top. If preferred, instead of tablecloths, cover the tables with butcher paper and provide markers, crayons, and colored pencils so that the teens can doodle and draw on the paper.

photograph-cafe style setting, walls are plain white. There are five tables with four chairs, and a large rectangular table against wall.

photograph - cafe style setting, four tables are visible with a very large tree in middle

If the library has potted indoor trees, move them into the programming space to add the ambiance of an outdoor café. Dim the lighting in the programming room and add a flameless, battery-powered candle to each table. Ask staff to donate old mugs that they no longer use. For a centerpiece, place a coffee mug on top of a stack of books with a sample of the crafts that will be available.

photograph - one table with a place setting, the middle of the table has a stack of 3 books, a large cup that contains neon colored scissors, bookmarks, and orange flower

photograph - one square table with a place setting, the middle of the table is has a stack of 3 books, a regular coffee cup that contains neon colored scissors, a bookmark, and yellow flower

If you know what you will be serving in the café, create a menu of beverages, pastries, and snacks and place a copy at each table. If you plan to provide opportunities to create some of the crafts listed in this program, place tables on the edge of the room as craft stations. Alternately, provide music, poetry readings, or other activities for the teens to enjoy while drinking their coffee.


Gather coffee and tea paraphernalia for the display, including coffee tins and mugs, coffee filters, tea bags, tea cups and saucers, marshmallows, sugar, coffee beans, grinders, and such. Arrange the items with related books.


Serve wrapped candy, assorted pastries, cookies, scones, or muffins. Depending on the type of drinks you decide to serve, you can provide a variety of hot or cold beverages with all the trimmings, including marshmallows, whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, caramel or chocolate sauce etc. Provide napkins, small plates, and disposable cups with lids or mugs for the teens to use. Buy the drink mixes and paper products in bulk at stores such as Walmart, Sam’s, or Costco.

photograph - in the middle there is a large silver tray with cookies decorated by a glass vase with 3 flowers there are also two smaller glass containers that contain small wrapped candy (milky way, tootsie rolls, snickers, and other candies)

If there is a Starbucks or other coffee shop near the library, stop by and ask to speak to the store manager. The store manager is the individual who has the power to donate products to community organizations. Tell the manager about the event you are hosting at the library. Repeat this information in a typed request on the library’s letterhead. Ask for a donation of coffee and tea for the program. Alternately, ask to borrow a large coffee urn, used for community events, with the coffee, cups, and other condiments.

Arrange the refreshments buffet-style on a table. Teens can make their selections and carry them back to their tables.

photograph - buffet with cookies, candy, and other dried drink containers, like Swiss Miss, whipped cream, plastic spoons, sweetners, coffee cups, and plates


Bath Tea Bags

Create a relaxing bath product using tea and herbs. Using chamomile tea bags and dried lavender, teens can make an aromatherapy bath soak as a gift or to use at home. Materials are simple and require only tea bags and dried lavender, available from natural food and bath shops. There are also lavender farms throughout Texas. If one is nearby, ask for donations or invite the owner to help teens create this and other projects. The directions for making bath tea bags are available from Craft Bits, www.craftbits.com/viewProject.do?projectID=136. Teens can use the product themselves or package several together for a gift.

Book Tape Transfer Bookmarks

(Adapted from The Miscellaneous History of Common Experiments: An Encyclopedia of Sorts by Celia Perez. This print zine is self-published by Celia Perez, a librarian. Copies are available from the author.)

This craft allows teens to take a black and white image, make it transparent, and transfer the image using book tape to create a unique bookmark.

photograph - three bookmarks created using pantones with black and white images and cutouts

  • Book tape in a dispenser or Scotch® Clear Packaging Tape in a dispenser
  • Black and white images, such as clip art
  • Sample paint strips
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors (regular and fancy edges)
  • Glitter
  • Hole punches
  • Empty shoebox lids
  • Rulers
  • Napkins
  • Pencils
  • Small cloths or hand towels
  • Water
  • Medium-size container (to hold water)
  • Toothbrushes
  • Photocopier

In advance, gather black and white clip art images or ask the teens to find images in books and photocopy them. Also in advance, ask a local hardware or paint store for samples of paint strips. Set-up a long table with all the materials needed for the craft. Follow the directions provided below or view the step-by-step process available on Clipmarks, http://clipmarks.com/clipmark/5DDF3F41-8C58-4A61-8AC0-D0FC70A2EFE5/.

photograph - table with tape, scisoors, and other crafts

Find the image you want to use and make a photocopy of it. Use the regular copy setting for clearer images. Cut a piece of book tape the length that you want the bookmark to be. Stick the tape to the image and use the side of a pencil to smooth it down securely. Soak the entire piece of tape with the image on it in water for a few minutes. While the tape is soaking, select a paint strip and scissors. Peel as much of the paper off of the tape as you can. Use a toothbrush to get the rest of it off until the tape is nice and clear. The image can take a lot of rubbing without fading. Use a hand towel or small cloth to blot off any extra water. Then stick the tape to the paint strip. Press down firmly and try not to get any bubbles. Use a small ruler to help smooth the tape down against the surface of the paint strip. If desired, spread glitter in a shoebox top and place the tape sticky side down. Pat the tape lightly to pick up some glitter. Trim any excess edges. If desired, punch a hole on one end of the bookmark. Thread a ribbon through the hole and tie it. Use the fancy scissors to give the edges of the bookmark a pattern.

Chocolate Spoons

Invite the teens to make these yummy treats to use in their drinks. Teens can make the chocolate spoons using the recipe at Cocoa Java, www.cocoajava.com/cocoa_chocolate_spoons.html. You will need to supply plastic spoons, shortening, chocolate, and waxed paper. You will also need access to a microwave to melt the chocolate in small glass measuring cups. After making the chocolate spoons, teens will need to allow them to solidify. They can then wrap the spoons in plastic wrap and tie them up with a pretty ribbon to use later or give as a gift. In addition to chocolate, consider providing other flavored baking chips to melt or to drizzle over the chocolate to create swirls.

Coffee Filter Roses

Using white coffee filters and food coloring, teens can make an assortment of colored roses using the directions at Crafters Touch, www.crafterstouch.com/projectpage.aspx?projectid=100. A sample of a teen-made Coffee Filter Rose and a photo showing how to set up the craft station are provided in this program.

Girl holding a coffee filter paper rose

photograph - table with orange, white, pink coffee filters, markers, tape, and other crafts

Hot Chocolate Cones

Teens can make hot chocolate cones to give as a gift, use as party favors, or save as a treat for later. These cute cones look like ice cream cones but contain everything, from the cocoa to the marshmallows, needed to make a cup of cocoa. To make a hot chocolate cone, follow the directions from Disney Family Fun, http://jas.familyfun.go.com/recipefinder/display?id=50317. Print out a label that shows the ingredients and directions for making the cocoa onto cardstock paper. A set of sample labels is provided in this program. Punch a hole in the cardstock label and attach to the top of the cone, where the cellophane bag has been gathered, and use ribbon to attach the label to the top of the cone. Cellophane bags are available at party supply stores.

Find sample Café-Hot Chocolate Recipe Labels at the end of this program.

Melted Crayon Bookmarks

Two bookmarks made with melted crayon. The first has alternating blocks of red and blue. The second bookmark has different shades of purple blots.

Using peeled crayon shavings, cardstock, wax paper, and an iron and ironing board, teens can combine colors to make a vibrant bookmark to keep or give to a friend. A printable one-page instruction sheet for this craft is available on the web site created for The Hipster Librarian's Guide to Teen Craft Projects by Tina Coleman and Peggie Llanes, www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/pub lishing/editions/webextras/coleman09713/coleman_project_2.pdf.


Celebrate Poetry Café

Host a teen poetry contest and invite the winners to read their work while enjoying refreshments at the Celebrate Poetry Café. Have separate categories for entries by grade, such as 6th grade, 7-8th grade, 9-10th grade, and 11th-12th grade. Decide on the criteria for the contest and create an entry form. An example of rules and criteria for a poetry contest and an entry form from the Plano Public Library System’s Celebrate Poetry @ your library’s Youth Poetry Competition is provided in this program. Invite at least five people, such as a high school English teacher, library board member, local authors or poets, or a library staff member to serve as judges.

Find an example of a Café-Youth Poetry Entry Form at the end of this program.

After the entries have been submitted, compile the poems into poetry booklets that can be given out to the participants at the event. Provide participation certificates to each teen poet to recognize their participation. Present bookstore gift cards in varying amounts depending on the level of award to the contest winners. Publicize the event with a colorful flyer. An example from the Plano Public Library System’s Celebrate Poetry Café event is provided in this program.

Find an example of a Café-Poetry Poster at the end of this program.

If time permits, VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) hosts an annual Teen Poetry Contest for teens aged twelve to eighteen and publishes the work of each winning poet in the April issue of the journal. Libraries submit the “cream of the crop” from entries submitted to the library and VOYA publishes the best of the best. To find out more, go to http://voya.com/Contests/index.shtml#poetry.

Open Mic Time

Invite teens to share with their peers by reciting a poem or story, telling a joke, playing an instrument, or sharing a special talent.

Ugly Mug Contest

Encourage teens to bring in the ugliest coffee mug they can find. Have teens vote on the “ugliest mug”. Award prizes according to the mug that receives the most votes. If there are enough submissions, divide the voting into categories like “tackiest,” “most likely to curdle milk,” or “so bad it’s almost cute.” To view an on-line gallery of ugly coffee mugs, go to The Gallery of Ugly Mugs, http://cocoajava.com/mug_contest_gallery.html.

Professional Resources

Herb Association of Texas


Check out this association to find lavender growers in your area.

Program Materials and Examples

Café-Hot Chocolate Recipe Labels

Printer Friendly PDF Version (130 KB)

Instructions for making hot chocolate cones - The instructions are the size of eight business cards. Directions: Place 2 rounded tablespoons of cocoa mix in cup. Gradually stir in 8 ox. of hot water or milk. Add Marshmallows and chocolate chips

Café-Youth Poetry Entry Form

Printer Friendly PDF Version (212 KB)

Cafe Youth Poetry Entry Form - See PDF for readable text.


Printer Friendly PDF Version (547 KB)

Cafe Poetry Poster. See PDF for readable text.

Texas Teens Read 2010! Programming Manual / Within Arms Reach: The Future is Yours!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 10, 2011