How to Host a Successful Slumber Party

Planning for Fun and Safety

Teenage girls at slumber party
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Slumber parties are a fun tradition and a rite of passage of growing up. Whether the occasion is summer fun, birthday party, holiday break, or socializing through an enrichment activity, here are some slumber party ideas to make sure the sleepover is fun, hassle-free, and ends with a snooze.

Keep in mind that you will be the caregiver for your child's guests overnight. You will need to ensure their health and safety.

Inviting the Guests

Your party's success starts with selecting the guests.

  • Keep It Small: Limit the guest number to half of the age of the child. At age 6, invite three guests. At age 10, invite five guests, etc. The best idea for ensuring a successful slumber party is to think small, and then plan big so that needs are met before they are even established.
  • Even Number of Attendees: It is always a practical slumber party idea to keep the number of guests to even-number so there is no "odd kid out."
  • Essential Medical and Contact Info: Contact the parents to ask about any medications, food allergies, pet allergies, and challenges (physical, intellectual, or sensory) of the guests. Ask for their contact numbers and preferred means to contact them while their child is in your care.
  • Homesickness: Talk to the parents in advance or when they drop off their children as to whether homesickness is likely. Note how to contact the parents and whether they would prefer to come get the child or have her brought home by you.

Planning the Slumber Party

Preparation and planning are essential for a successful sleepover.

  • Sleeping Essentials: Stock extra sleeping bags, air mattresses, clean sheets, pillowcases, pillows, blankets, towels, and washcloths. Position them to be readily available.
  • Bathroom Preparation: Have extra rolls of toilet paper, tissue, disposable water cups, extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, full soap dispensers, and even extra hair accessories. Have a plunger ready—just in case.
  • Lighting and Temperature: Check these in advance where kids will be staying. Be aware that portable heaters can be a fire danger and should be avoided.
  • Toys and Possessions: Discuss with your kids in advance as to which of their toys and possessions are to be shared and which ones need to be put away. Once decisions are reached, it's a good slumber party planning idea to enforce "no changes."
  • Basket of Stuffed Animals: It's a fun slumber party idea to offer a basket with an assortment of stuffed animals for kids to cuddle with at night. Believe it or not, even some tweens to teens still like to snuggle with something at night.
  • Childproofing for Overnight Guests: Use the party as a cue to go through a home safety checklist with fresh eyes. Ensure that tools, matches, firestarters, knives, sporting equipment, and firearms are secured and can't be accessed by playful children. Check electrical safety and ensure tripping hazards are eliminated. Secure any valuables or breakables that you'd be heartbroken to see smashed. Guests may want to explore, so make sure you have locks on rooms and storage areas you don't want them to access.

Food and Drink

Once you know food sensitivities and restrictions, you can plan what to serve.

  • Drinks: Have lots of drinks at their disposal. Select small half-size cans of soda and bottles of water and bagged juice drinks. Consider keeping an ice chest packed with drinks and water and encourage kids to help themselves as they become thirsty. Only offer water as it gets close to bedtime.
  • Snacks: Keeping in mind any food allergies and sensitivities, plan for rampant cases of the munchies. In addition to expected treats such as sweets or beloved junk food, offer an array of tempting fruits and vegetables with dip. Avoid serving messy foods.
  • Breakfast: Plan a special breakfast the next morning. Donut holes and yogurt cups are fun for dipping. Homemade waffles and fresh fruit are favorites. Or, provide a "make it yourself" breakfast bar so you can sleep in while they enjoy what they prefer.

Activities

Structure helps set the pace for the evening. Discuss with your kid what he or she would like to do, and help to accomplish that. The activities need to be appropriate for the number of kids attending.

  1. Games and Activities: Early in the evening, provide active fun such as shooting hoops, soccer, swimming, or jumping on the trampoline. Organize a backyard scavenger hunt or flashlight walk around the neighborhood after dark. Be sure to supervise these activities for safety and be ready with a first aid kit for any accidents.You can progress to more sit-down activities such as board games, or video games. Consider making a video starring the guests after their pajamas are on.
  2. Music:. Have appropriate tunes lined up for listening, singing along, karaoke, dancing, or air guitar.
  3. Wind down: Select an age-appropriate movie or video so they can watch in their pajamas and ease into quiet time.

Hospitality

Welcome the guests to your home and set the ground rules.

  • Host: Encourage your kid to serve as the host. Practice some key roles in advance that can be accomplished without you hovering. If the guests will want popcorn, a practical slumber party idea is to teach your kids how to pop it in the microwave in advance and dish it up to friends. Have plastic bowls and potholders handy.
  • Tour: Provide kids with a mini-tour at the outset so all guests know which bathrooms are to be used and where they are located, where extra linens are kept, any rooms that should not be entered, and any rules that need to be followed.
  • Bedtime and quiet hours: Set expectations with your child in advance of the sleepover. Establish a bedtime, then ask the kids to help enforce it.

Relax, enjoy the kids, and just resign yourself that you're not going to have your best night's sleep. Sleepovers can help to build friendships and foster independence among kids, and all too soon, your nest will be empty. The best slumber party idea is to have fun with them and relish the smiles.

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