Sleepover, slumber parties, call them what you will, having guests sleep over is exciting and fun BUT, for parents, it can be a disaster zone of a trashed house and no sleep. Add to this, homesick children who have not been away from home before, to forgotten toothbrushes and you can be forgiven for thinking ‘why was this ever a good idea?’
But, sleep over parties can be a great idea, running smoothly from the moment guests arrive, sleeping bags in tow, till the moment they leave with party bags. And the secret to a successful slumber party is simple: planning.
Sleep overs are the type of party, especially with younger children, that need meticulous planning, and some ground rules. There are many things that you need to bear in mind…
Guest numbers – sleepovers work best with even number of guests as children tend to ‘pair up’ at such events. The more you have, the more the effort to make sure that all children are included, all of the time.
Set and arrival AND departure time – what can cause a sleepover to become fractious is when the leaving time, in particular, is left open; some parents will come fairly handy to pick up their child whereas others will see this as an open invitation to leave them there till tea time the following day. Setting times for arrival and departure helps you enormously.
Theme – try theming the party as this can help focus the mind on party games and activities. Remember too that, just like a 2 or 3 hour party, you will need a variety of games that perform different functions e.g. calming down activities, as well as wearing them out games!
And as for party games, try these…
The Sleeping Palace
In order for the sleep over to be really successful, you need a ‘zone’ that belongs to the birthday boy or girl, and their guests. This introduces the notion that there are rules and the whole house is not to be devoured and trashed!
Try creating a sparkling glitter room and you can do this with blowing up large balloons, dipping the larger end in glue and them in to a bucket of glitter. They create amazing homemade disco balls that are perfect for night time.
Too girly? Give them a challenge…
The Sleeping Place Challenge
Before your guests unpack, present them with a variety of implements, from wooden poles, to string and some old bed sheets etc. and get them working on creating their own indoor tents or bivvies’. Again, use one room and set certain ‘rules’ or goals, such as – each tent must be big enough to house two people… and so on.
On the hour challenge
Sleepovers can sometimes drag, despite your best intentions and, although they may want to run around the house, this is not so much a party but a free-for-all. Save yourself the stress with this great idea of on the hour challenges.
Invest in some big balloons and, inside them have some challenges – it can be anything from find 5 things in the garden than start with an F, to create a 6 foot flower out of nothing but newspaper and sticky tape (no string allowed, and it cannot be stuck to the floor with glue etc.)
Label these balloons, complete with challenges inside them, per hour – e.g. 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, 8pm and 9pm and so on – choose a party guest to pop them and be ‘in charge’ of the challenge. Clearly, as you head for bed time, calm the challenges down.
Some guests may have come across this before as they are often used in schools and other educational settings. You can use a ball or, for younger guests, use dice. You can make these yourselves or buy online, but the talk ball contains a load of questions are statements.
The ball is tossed to a guest and whichever question or statement their left thumb is on when they catch it, is the question or statement they need to answer. Keep them light-hearted such as ‘favourite holiday’ (and why), most embarrassing moment etc. This is a great way of getting guests sat down, and calmed down.
And the morning dawns…
The likelihood is you have not had a lot of sleep, not the hours you would normally have but, in the main, the house is in one piece, the guests are happy but make sure you send them away with positive endorsements ringing in their ears. Why not create a spider’s web that they have to leap through to leave the house?