Kids love slumber parties and sleepovers. All-nighters give kids a chance to spend lots of uninterrupted time with good friends-playing games, doing activities, eating snacks, and best of all, staying up way past their bedtime.
But how do you know when your child is ready? Well, if he has already spent the night away from home a few times, and hasn't had a problem, he's probably ready. On the other hand, if your child hasn't had any away-from-home experiences, it's probably not the best time to start it with a sleepover party. Kids may be unwilling to call home due to peer pressure and spend the night unhappy.
In general, most kids start hosting and attending slumber parties around the age of 7 or 8, and continue until around 12 or 13. If you feel that your child may not be ready to attend a sleepover, you can always try hosting one at your house to let your child know what to expect.
Here are some suggestions for throwing a slumber party:
Pick a Popular Theme
Give the party a focus by choosing a theme that's popular with kids this age. Brainstorm ideas with your child, then wrap the rest of the party around your selection, matching the invitations, decorations, activities, and snacks. Here are some suggestions to get your party started:
Cool Camp-In Party
TV Talent Show Party
Fab and Funny Fashion Party
Beauty Makeover Party
Krazy Karaoke Party
Make Inviting Invitations
Get the guests excited about the party with creative invitations. You might make crafty frames for your Artsy-Crafty Party and insert the invitation inside the frame. Or write the party details on mini-flashlights using permanent markers for the Cool Camp-In Party. Try a makeup bag filled with inexpensive lip gloss and nail polish, and write the details on the outside of the bag for your Beauty Makeover Party. For your Krazy Karaoke Party, write the details on sheet music or over the face of Simon Cowell!
Set the Stage
Have the kids bring their sleeping bags, then arrange them in a star burst in the middle of the party room, with heads at the center. That way no one is left out. Then fill the ceiling with "a starry night"-blow up blue balloons, glue on glow-in-the-dark stars, turn off the lights, and let the bright star balloons float on the ceiling to create a dazzling "sky." (Hint: Use a Balloon Time Helium Balloon Kit to make the job of blowing up balloons quick and easy.)
Get the Party Started!
Keep the kids busy-and out of trouble-by planning lots of fun games and engaging activities. Here are some suggestions for the parties mentioned above:
Artsy-Crafty Party: Cover the table with newspaper or butcher paper, set out arts and crafts materials or kits and let the kids make-and-take their own picture frames, jewelry, decorative boxes, t-shirts, and purses.
Cool Camp-In Party: Sing camp songs, make your own S'mores, tell not-too-scary ghost stories, have a scavenger hunt in the dark with flashlights, and read comic books.
TV Talent Show Party: Play charades, put on a show, have each guest perform a talent such as sing a song, do a dance, or perform a magic trick, watch a marathon of your child's favorite TV series.
Fab and Funny Fashion Party: Have the kids wear their least favorite outfits, then have a clothing exchange. Model dress-up clothes from the thrift shop, design gowns for each other using crepe paper, make paper dolls with each guest's face glued to the doll's head.
Beauty Makeover Party: Set out a variety of makeup products, such as lip gloss, eye shadow, eye lash curlers, blush, and so on. Let the kids make each other over. Include hairbrushes, ribbons, and other hair products and have a wacky hairstyles contest. Take before and after pictures.
Krazy Karaoke Party: Rent or borrow a karaoke machine and let the kids choose the music they want to perform. Have them take turns singing along, while you videotape the performances. Then play back the "show." Have judges make funny comments about each performance.
Kids get hungry when they're up all night, so have lots of treats and goodies ready, such as popcorn, veggie trays, and mini-sandwiches. You might also have activity time double as snack time and let the kids make their own snacks, such as pizzas, brownies, or cookies.
Wrap up the fun and games by starting a favorite video. This will help the kids wind down and even grow sleepy.
Don't Forget "The Rules"
Make a list of rules to prevent problems ahead of time. Brainstorm with your child and jot down the list on poster board for all the guests to see. You might include rules like "No loud music," "No leaving the house," "No crank calls," etc. Then threaten the guests that you'll join the party in your pajamas if they break any of the rules-that should scare them into being good!
Need more ideas? How about a Comic Book Party (with do-it-yourself materials), Castaway Luau Party (with a Hawaiian theme), Crack-Up Comedy Party (with kid comedy performances, jokes, and funny videos), Dance Dance Revolution (dancing with a DDR), Friends Forever (making friendship scrapbooks), Midnight Mystery (with a puzzle to solve), Now You're Cookin' (with recipes and ingredients), Silly Olympics (with funny stunts to perform).
Penny Warner is the author of "Slumber Parties: 25 Fun-Filled Party Themes"