A “sleepover” or “slumber party” is somewhat of a misnomer because very little sleep actually takes place at these events. It can also be intimidating to have other people's children to feed, entertain, and care for overnight. But if you anticipate the challenges and prepare yourself and your household for the party, you can organize a memorable event that’s fun for everyone.
Choose your guests carefully. Ideally, sleepover guests will be comfortable staying away from home overnight, which may occur as early as age 6 but more commonly around age 8 or 9. If your young child struggles during playdates with others, delay the group challenge and start with just one sleepover guest. As your child matures, you can work your way up to several invitees. Aim to have an even number of participants, including your child, for team activities so there’s no “odd man out”.
Prepare other family members for the event. Your partner should plan to be at home to help you with the night’s festivities. Consider that younger siblings may feel left out of the party action. Rent special movies for them or see if a friend can take them on an outing for a portion of the evening.
Create a pleasant sleepover area. Make sure that kids have a cozy and comfortable sleeping space. String some fairy lights or add different colored lamps to the room. Provide bean bag chairs, cushions, pillows, and blankets.
Plan your provisions. Less-than-healthy snacks are expected at sleepovers. Offer foods that are easy to prepare and clean up such as pizza, popcorn, and chips. If you want to include some healthy items, round out your snack bar with cheese cubes and crackers, fruit, and granola bars. The next morning, continue with the easy-to-prepare theme and serve cereal, muffins, bagels with cream cheese, or frozen waffles. Set out a morning snack so that so that early risers can help themselves.
Get critical information. Obtain cell and home phone numbers for every parent, and find out what time they will be picking up their child the next day. Inquire about guests' potential food allergies or other health issues. It’s smart to keep all of this information together in one place so it’s handy in case you have a question or an emergency situation arises.
Take safety precautions. Check in every hour or so to be sure that all guests are present and that everyone getting along. Strategically place nightlights in the bathrooms, near the stairs, and in other key spots. Every child should also know the route to your bedroom in case of an emergency. Reassure everyone they can wake you if they are scared, sick, or otherwise need assistance.
Establish ground rules. When you have other kids in your home for the night, they are your responsibility. Make sure they understand they cannot leave the house without your permission and cannot make prank phone calls. You might also consider designating certain areas of the house as "off limits", such as rooms that contain valuable items.
Set a schedule. Having a general idea of what to do when will help you stay calm and organized. Consider starting the event at 7 or 8 PM so the pajama-wearing and snack-eating portion of the program can begin immediately. Set a time for lights-out, even though you know they’ll stay up well past it.
Hosting a sleepover requires more work than a regular party does, but with some forethought and careful planning, you can create an event that’s sure to be among your child’s best memories.
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