Are you a pajama party professional? If your answer is no, don’t worry, most parents aren’t! But that doesn’t mean that you can’t plan a fun sleepover that your kids will love.
Cuddle into your blanket fort because we’re about to cover a lot of ground here. Before we do, we want to say one thing: it’s okay to keep it simple. If your sleepover looks like ordering pizza, a movie night, and making some popcorn before calling it a night...that’s okay!
You don’t have to do anything over the top to make sure your child has a fun night with their friends. Simply providing a place for them to hang out and enjoy each other’s company is more than enough.
If you want to take it to the next level, that’s great too! We’re here to help provide some sleepover party ideas.
Pick a Theme
A great sleepover party doesn’t need a theme, but picking a theme can help when it comes to making the rest of your plans. For example, if your child wants an under-the-sea theme, you could fill your menu with Swedish Fish, Goldfish, and other fun ocean-themed food. Or, if they want to do a Hollywood theme, you can set up a photo booth or karaoke machine so they can pretend to be famous for the night.
Besides the two we just mentioned, here are a few themed slumber party ideas:
- Glamping: Set up a tent in your backyard or living room. Leave out flashlights, make s'mores, and let the scary stories commence.
Master Chef Junior. Get everyone involved in making the menu for the night (they can make their own pizza, desserts, or snacks!) or plan a fun team challenge where the winner gets a special prize.
Murder Mystery. If you’re planning a sleepover for older teens, nothing beats a fun murder mystery party where everyone can get into character and solve a whodunnit together.
Plan the Activities
When it comes to activities, keeping the age group in mind is key. If your child is on the younger end of things (eight-12), you might need to plan the whole night out to make sure the momentum keeps going. For older tweens and teens, having a few ideas in mind but letting them control the flow of the evening could be better.
Minimize the Technology
Have you noticed how much time kids spend staring at screens each day? While you may feel like you can’t pull your child away from their phone, the reality of the number might be even more startling to you. Kids and teens spend an average of seven hours per day staring at a screen.
One way to make your sleepover a success is to minimize the technology available, specifically the technology that connects them to social media. Some parents suggest collecting all phones at the beginning of the night, but be sure to get parental permission before doing this.
A better idea is to incentivize them not to use their phones. Set all the phones in the middle of the room so you can see notifications or urgent phone calls, but tell them that the last person to use their phone wins the prize.
Minimizing the screen time at a sleepover is a good idea for many reasons:
- It helps the kids connect with the people that are actually there with them.
- It avoids hurt feelings from those who aren’t able to attend or weren’t invited.
- It cuts down on the drama and gossip that can come from social media.
Set Up a Photobooth
Instead of having the kids Snapchat and Instagram the whole night, set up one designated phone to take photos, or if possible, a digital or polaroid camera. You can set up a backdrop and props to match your chosen theme, and then you can either get the photos printed after the party as a fun memento or set up a shared album for all your guests.
If you plan to use a phone or iPad to take the photos, skip the tripod and use a PUK to prop up your device. Then all you have to do is use the self-timer to get the perfect pic!
Set Out Games and Other Items
Try out this game-changer: Instead of planning any specific activities or telling kids what to do, simply set out some games and new activities and let the kids choose what to do with them.
Think about buying a new board game and leave it in the party room for the guests to find. Then, they can spend time learning the activity of explaining the rules of the game to each other. It may help the fun feel more natural rather than forced.
Kids of all ages enjoy crafting! Leave out some markers, glue, or glow-in-the-dark fabric paint to paint their own pillowcases. Making slime is popular and great for sensory play. (Pro tip: avoid glitter at all costs.)
Get the Energy Out
If you’re hoping for some actual sleep to happen at this sleepover, it’s important to plan a few activities that will tire your guests out. If the weather is nice, encourage them to play outside for a while. Or set up an obstacle course inside.
Prepare the ultimate party playlist and start a random dance party before bed. If you’re planning to serve anything sugary (hello, ice cream and cupcakes), do it towards the beginning of the night so that it wears off before bedtime.
Be Ready to Be Flexible
You can do everything possible to make the ultimate party schedule, but at the end of the day, your kids and their friends may have another idea in mind. Be okay with that! Hold your schedule loosely, and be ready to just call for a pizza and let them sit around telling jokes or playing games together.
Communicate with the Guests (and Parents)
Now that you have your theme and activities planned out, it’s time to send out some invites! Help your child make a guest list, and then send physical or digital invites. If this is a sleepover birthday party or other special occasion, physical invites are always a nice touch. But if you’re just inviting some kids over on a random Friday night, a quick text to their parents might be all you need.
When communicating with your guests, be sure to:
Meet the parents. If you’re inviting a new friend of your child, be sure to meet their parents. This will go a long way to helping establish trust.
Set a clear start and end time. When should kids be dropped off and picked up?
Let them know what they’ll need. Do they need a blanket, pajamas, or bedding? Or will you be providing that?
Give them an “out.” Some kids might not be comfortable spending the night. Let them know it’s ok to set a time earlier in the evening to leave. Or, if your child is the one who doesn’t like sleepovers, plan a “late over” where you invite everyone to come in PJs and set the pickup time at 11 pm!
Prepare the Food
Unless one of your planned activities is making the food together, it will be worth your while to prepare your food ahead of time. One of the best and easiest ideas for sleepovers is a (child-friendly) bar. Taco bars, popcorn bars, sundae bars, etc… You name the food; you can probably create a bar out of it.
This helps when you have a crowd of picky eaters or have to be aware of food allergies. It's best to check with the parents ahead of time to clarify dietary restrictions.
Having a serve-yourself bar also adds a little bit of extra fun to mealtime and can even turn into its own activity. Encourage each child to present their dish like they’re in a cooking competition, complete with the dish’s name, their inspiration behind it, and the flavor notes.
Set the Scene
To cut down on the clean-up later, designate a specific party room. This will typically be your living room or basement. Try and make it the place they’ll play games, watch movies, and (attempt to) sleep. Decorate with items that fit your theme, or just make it feel extra cozy.
One of the best additions to your sleepover room is a comfy place to sit and sleep! Our convertible chairs double as a mattress so that your guests can skip the air mattress and sleeping bags and sleep in comfort. They also make the best movie-watching or gaming chair.
A few other ideas can take your party room from drab to fab in just a few minutes:
Have the guests help make the playlist. Encourage them to send their song requests ahead of time and then have the music playing in the party room throughout the night.
Make sure there are plenty of blankets and pillows. We all have that childhood memory of waking up in the middle of the night at a friend’s house, freezing cold and unsure of where to get a blanket.
Add fun lighting like LED strips, lava lamps, or a disco ball. With these special touches, your kids will forget they’re in the basement for the night. Throw in some glow sticks for extra fun.
Time to Party
Don’t let party planning overwhelm you. With just a few simple touches, you can host a night that your kids and their friends will always remember. Pick a theme, plan the activities and menu, and send out your invites. Everything will fall into place. Just be sure to schedule a recovery day the next day! Despite your best efforts, the “sleep” part might not happen as long as you might hope for.