With all those hyperactive kids under your roof, sleepovers or slumber parties (although slumber may not be on the agenda) can be anything but a party for the grown-ups. For little ones, though, a first sleepover can be one of the most exciting events of their childhood: they encourage independence, help kids develop their social skills and, if you’re lucky, create special bonds between life-long buddies.
Here’s a beginner’s survival guide on how to make a sleepover for kids between six and 10 years a fun and memorable experience for all – and for all the right reasons.
The guest list: keep it short!
For first-timers, a group of two or three would work well. Let’s not get the kids overwhelmed; instead, ease them into the art of sleeping over. Children at this age require full attention and care, so focus on their needs (their bedtime routine may differ from your child’s). Be open to bending some rules – it is, after all, a party!
Choose the date and send out invitations
Saturday nights are typically the favourite for sleepovers, as Fridays tend to be tricky if the kids have spent the day at school and are already tired and cranky from their activities. Get creative and send out a cool invite – a pillowcase invitation will get the kids talking! Set a pick-up time and make sure you get the contact details of the parents whose kids will be coming.
Plan the main meal
Serve a nice home-cooked dinner. In fact, get the kids involved and have a make-your-own pizza party, or toss some pasta together, or even get burrito happy with the kids picking their own fillings and wrapping it up!
Stock up on party supplies
Grab your partner or a friend and make a list of everything you’ll need for the night (and the morning after). Light snacks, juice or soda, games, movies, decorations, extra toiletries – the whole works to make this a kick-ass party. Check in with the parents of your guests if there are any food allergies or food restrictions you need to be aware of.
Keep the troop busy
In a new environment, social conflicts can make for a rather, erm, eye-opening experience. Pre-planning the itinerary for the night will help the bambinos to go with the flow (and hopefully not kick up a fuss about what they want to do). Let them know that you’re in charge, but you’ve planned a crazy fun night for them. Here are a few ideas to get you started…
- Welcome the kids with a hello gift
How about matching pyjamas? Something cool and comfy will do the trick (check out superhero or character-themed jammies – you can never go wrong with those). You could also provide plenty of glow-in-the-dark accessories and goodies for night-time fun.
- Have a flashlight scavenger hunt in the dark
Prepare clues for the gang to decode, which lead them to hidden treats like chocolate bars or gummies (stick to safe places in the house). And remind them there’s no sneaking out of the house like in the movies!
- Kiddie karaoke
Kick your party up a notch. Rent a karaoke machine and let the crowd pick the music they want to sing and dance to. You and your partner could be ‘judges’, à la American Idol. Go all out and throw in some rock-star sunglasses for the little participants.
- Dream team sports session
Have the kids wear their favourite sports jerseys to the party. Little ones can play the Sleeping-Bag Wiggle (they get inside their sleeping bags and wiggle on their tummies to a finish line). Bigger kids can head out to play a soccer game in a court or field nearby (as long as an adult goes with them).
- Make it a movie night
If they can’t agree what game to play or are getting out of hand and noise levels are rocketing, pop on some Netflix. Keep a few options for those fussy ones or the movie buffs who may have already watched them. Turn off the lights and usher them to their seats (your sofa) by torchlight to make it special. Prepare some warm popcorn and milkshakes for a real in-cinema feel.
- Set up a photo booth
Let the kids go crazy with clicks. Girls will love cute accessories (tiaras, sashes, masks, chunky beads). This will also capture moments of the night and serve as precious take-home gifts.
- Beauty makeover
Bring out some kid-friendly make-up products (lip gloss, sparkly eyeshadow, blush), disposable applicators and make-up removal wipes. Let the sweeties make over each other – don’t help as the fun is in letting them do it themselves. Of course, click before-and-after pictures.
After an exciting night, the little ones will be worn out. Give them a hot chocolate (and then take them to the loo) before tucking them in. Make sure the bedroom’s lovely and warm as this will make them feel much sleepier. You’ll need plenty of blankets and pillows, too. Then off to slumberland they go… but keep a lookout for about an hour just in case. Be available (and mentally prepared) for any middle-of-the-night requests!
The next morning…
Set up a breakfast booth. Stock it up with pancakes, cereal boxes, juices, milk and fresh fruit. Your sleepy heads will need some re-energising after the big shindig. If you’ve set a pick-up time, parents of your guests can get them all at one go. And now… time for you to take that much-anticipated snooze.
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