Hosting a sleepover, especially your child’s first one, can be a lot of fun for both you and your child, especially the planning process. So here are our top tips to help you prepare for the big night:
1. First time? Consider a half sleepover
Staying overnight for the first time (or having guests over) can be a little overwhelming for kids. It may sound fun in theory but when it’s time for bed, many kids will start feeling anxious and homesick. Consider hosting a ‘half’ sleepover where the kids can pack pyjamas, play games, make dinner, watch movies and then head home around 9pm.
2. Invitation etiquette – Aim for an even number of children
Three’s a crowd. As is five, seven and nine. Aim to have an even number of guests for any games that are played.
3. Have a code word
Letting the kids play independently is important but it’s also imperative that you provide adequate supervision without looking like an overprotective parent. A good idea is to have a code word that your child can use if things get out of hand (guests are fighting, someone is hurt) and she needs you to micro-manage the situation.
4. Prepare for problems
Because someone always forgets a toothbrush or feels homesick. Below are a few of the most common situations that may arise.
- Sleepless kiddies – it’s 4.00am and you can still hear the giggles coming from the living room. It’s up to you how you handle it. Do you reprimand them in your meanest “go to sleep” voice or simply wait it out?
- Homesickness – no matter how welcoming the environment is, sometimes homesickness hits. Be prepared to make a late night call to a parent – it happens to the best of us.
- Accidents at night – have extra clothing and a sleeping bag just in case. And make sure you are discreet when helping the child.
- Fights between guests – children clash and sometimes it will be on your turf. Separate the kids to talk to them one on one, suggest a new activity and help them to move on from the incident.
- Forgotten items – have extra pyjamas, swimmers, towels and toothbrushes on hand, just in case.
5. Choose a few Indoor and outdoor activities
If the weather cooperates, a game of tug-o-war or hide ‘n seek before dinner can help the kids work up an appetite and burn off some energy. During the hotter months you may even get away with setting up a sprinkler or slip ‘n’ slide for an hour of water play.
Indoor activities that are always a hit include board games (think Twister), karaoke (ear plugs for you and your partner are probably a good idea) or creating a dance routine or video. Little girls may be interested in setting up a spa with different pampering areas for nails, hair and makeup.
6. Personalise pillow cases
A simple craft that all kids will love is personalising pillow cases. Simply ask each guest to bring a white pillowcase (or supply them) and let the kids get creative with sharpie pens. Draw out their names in bubble writing, add embellishments or sketch a picture of a famous character or celebrity. The kids can take them home as a reminder of the fun.
7. Photo booth fun
Photo booths, complete with kooky costumes, funny signs and goofy accessories are great fun at weddings and parties. Set up an area where they can put on fancy outfits (feathered boas, high heels, large sunnies, fancy hats) and let them take a few photos. Drape a colourful sheet over the wall or invest in a strip of wall paper to hang for the backdrop.
8. Fun with Food
Homemade pizzas are always a success as kids can choose the toppings. Tacos are another good one as each child can pick and choose what to include in their taco.
For dessert, you may want to set up a cupcake decorating or sundae making station or set up a snack bar where everyone can choose different treats such as nuts, popcorn, frozen yogurt and jelly. Limit extra sugary sweets before bed unless you want the kids running around the neighbourhood bare foot and crazy at midnight.
Just be sure to find out any food intolerances from the parents before choosing your sleepover menu.
9. Setting the Stage for Sleep – Set up a sleep timer in the form of balloons.
You need six balloons and a sharpie. Place a different times (5.00pm, 6.00pm, 7.00pm, 8.00pm, 9.00pm and 10.00pm) on each balloon and let the kids pop the balloon as the time comes. When the balloons runs out, then it’s bedtime.
10. Sleep smart. And fair.
Keep everyone on equal sleeping ground and opt for an egalitarian circle set up which allows for better conversation and ensures no one is sleeping on the edge and feeling left out.
If you are feeling extra creative you may even want to create a massive dome of blankets and pillows for all the kids to crash under. Because nothing is more fun than sleeping in a fort, except perhaps sharing the fort with your best mates.
Good luck to all the mums and dads venturing into the slumber party scenario!