So your child has asked for a sleepover for their birthday, for the first time ever – there’s really no need to panic, or to crave for the days when you invited their whole class to a local hall, provided ham sarnies and jelly and played a few games, then everyone went home after a hour or two.
The Sleepover, or the overnight, extended playdate, is becoming more and more popular as a birthday party idea, especially amongst girls of a certain age – the tweens – ages 8 to 12 approximately, give or take a year or two. The age when their tastes are becoming increasingly sophisticated – chocolate fountains, not chocolate bars, gel nails not jellies. It’s hard to keep up with your no longer little girl, who is has very firm ideas about her likes and dislikes.
The best thing you can do, once you’ve tried to distract her with the offer of a pool party, a cinema party, maybe even the theatre – is to embrace it (it’s only one night – how hard can it be?) and involve your child in the planning process.
Draw up a guest list – it can be tricky at this age – kids, as we know can be fickle, but it has to be done. A bestie one day, can be a sworn enemy the next. Stick to an even number – four is good if you can fit them in. Three friends together can be tricky. Two or six, depending on space, can work well too. Have a backup list (no-one needs to know they were on this list!) just in case one of your potential invitees has something unmissable on your chosen day, but as a sleepover inevitably has fewer guests than the younger ‘the more the merrier’ parties, its best to be as flexible as you can with dates, so your child’s most chosen guests can come along.
Designing and creating your own invites together with your child can be great fun, and maybe don’t give too much away about what you’re planning to do on the night. Give them start and pick up times – all good sleepovers must come to an end, and the word ‘sleepover’ is, after all, a bit of a misnomer. Chances are, not much sleeping will be achieved, so if you don’t want tired children lingering around all the following day, say so, in the nicest possible way. Mid-morning is good for collection – after a slap-up breakfast for the sleep-deprived – including you! And make sure you let them have a kit list – favourite teddy, toiletries, anything they’ll need throughout the evening – iPods, maybe. Include your telephone number, and, if you don’t have it already, request a contact number for each of your guests.
Plan the sleeping arrangements well in advance. It could be fun to provide (or ask your guests to bring along) sleeping bags – they are compact and comfy, and add to the fun of makeshift sleeping.
Think about having a theme. It could be anything from a pamper/spa party – think nail painting/mini facials – yup, they are growing up – to a craft or cupcake party. Make your cakes in advance and provide sprinkles, icing and all manner of glittery edible decorations for them. Ditto craft – non-edible glitter rocks, or maybe design and paint your own t-shirts.
Keep food simple. They’re growing up; they like to make their own minds up. Well, they always have done, but now you trust them to make slightly more sensible decisions! Order in pizza – they can choose their own toppings, or DIY pizzas work well too. Choose a selection of toppings (it’s a way of including some healthy bits too – like veggies), chop them up and pop into bowls, buy ready- made bases, a tomato sauce, some mozzarella cheese and let them go for it. Popcorn is another favourite – especially if you choose to watch a movie, and don’t forget to provide treats for midnight feasts! Perhaps ‘hide’ them in plain sight to add to the adventure.
Choosing to watch a movie at some stage gives your child, their guests, and you, a bit of downtime from all the excitement. Best to keep it fun and lively, rather than scary (no-one wants nightmares), and totally age appropriate.
There’s loads of simple games to choose from to keep your guests entertained – truth or dare – a kid’s version! – can be fun – as long as the dares are kept in check! Lots of old favourites like consequences are perfect for sleepovers – take a piece of paper each, write a name at the top, fold it over, pass it on and the next person writes an adjective, fold it over and pass it on, and so on. Full rules can be found at http://www.wikihow.com/Play-Consequences. You’ll also find loads more games ideas on http://www.birthdaypartyideas4kids.com/sleepover.htm.
Be prepared to be sleep deprived yourself. Yes, the words they most won’t want to hear is ‘curfew’ or ‘goodnight’. Have a time in mind when you want them, at least, to be settling down, although be prepared for giggles and whispering long after that time. Be firm but flexible. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it, fun right into and through the night?
So, keep it simple, and as the Scouts say, be prepared, and let them have fun. And to help keep it simple why not choose with ready filled party bags, from a fantastic choice of party bag fillers, and a great selection of treat boxes for midnight snacks see the brilliant selection at http://www.partythings2go.co.uk/.