Sleepover Party Planning Tips
Sleepover parties are tons of fun and make for lasting childhood memories. But they also can be challenging for both kids and parents. Kids might get homesick or be afraid of the dark, and parents may be overwhelmed with all the extra kids in the house. Be sure to check out our Sleepover Parties index, our main Birthdays & Parties index for party themes, craft ideas and more.
When planning, consider our checklist of tips below to ensure a fabulous sleepover party that's fun for kids and stress-free for parents.
Pick a number.
As a general rule, sleepovers should be limited to eight or fewer guests. Keep in mind how much space you have for sleeping bags. Use our printable guest list to start your planning. You can fill out the name, of course, but have parents fill out the rest. One way to make sure this is covered is to include the blank sheet in the invitation. It'll make parents feel better, too, knowing you'll have all the information you'll need.
Keep it short.
Have kids arrive right before or after the evening meal, and arrange for them to be picked up before noon the following day. Keeping hours short will help to maintain your sanity. Use our printable party schedule to help plan your party timing.
Get the vitals.
Before the party, get a list of food allergies, medications, dietary restrictions, bedtime routines, and a home and cell phone number of each guest's parents. At the same time, let other parents know that you'll be keeping a close eye on all the kids to ensure safety. Use our printable guest list to help keep track of everyone’s information.
Know the basics.
Kids will need: a sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight, p.j.'s (and a spare), clothes for the next day, toothbrush/toothpaste, hairbrush, favorite stuffed animal (for younger kids), and a favorite CD to add to the mix being played throughout the party. You can add our printable what-to-bring list to your party invitations or keep it on hand for when your children go to sleepover parties.
Lay down the law.
As soon as all kids are present, explain the rules: No leaving the house. No crank calls. No unsupervised cooking. No "ganging up" on anyone. And make sure all the kids know that fights will not be tolerated. If they get out of hand, parents will be called. Note: To ensure this step is taken care of, you may want to schedule it in your printable party schedule.
Let the kids know you're available to talk if they get homesick, experience bedwetting, or have trouble falling asleep. If a child asks to go home, try to address their fears before calling the parents. It may be a simple matter of plugging in a nightlight or fetching a glass of water. If they still seem anxious or if the child is sick, don't hesitate to call the parents.
Create a sleeping space.
To thwart any "I wanna sleep next to Billy!" fights, arrange the sleeping bags in a starburst pattern, with everyone's head in the middle. So that you don't forget in the chaos of the party, you may want to schedule this in your printable party schedule.
Calm 'em down.
Initiate "dim lights" at a specified time (10:30 p.m. is good), then "lights out" a half-hour later. That gives the kids time to wind down, talk quietly, and decompress before they go to sleep. Playing a non-scary movie right before bedtime also helps kids to wind down. You may want to schedule the movie, "dim lights," and "lights out" in your printable party schedule.
Don't stress over night owls.
Staying up late is half the fun! They'll drift off eventually, and maybe they'll even sleep later the next morning. You can only hope.
Jane Louise Boursaw is a freelance journalist specializing in the movie and television industries.