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Tips For Throwing Your First Sleepover

Written by Leith Tigges

Photography by Olya Hill, Photographed By Maria Del Rio

Mani-pedis with sparkly sticker decals, super hero movie marathons, and all the right finger foods—just a few key components that can help create the perfect sleepover. For many, slumber parties are nostalgic, a rite of passage, and just a plain ol’ good time! But, for others, the giddy all-nighters are an experience your littlest ones have yet to partake in. Don’t worry, parents! If you’re saddling up to host your family’s first sleepover, we’ve got you covered. And, because you can’t just invite over a gaggle of kids for the night and hope for the best, we’ve curated a list of 15 helpful tips to get you through your first kid-filled brigade. We’ve covered the bases for all the most important and necessary to-dos to ensure that your child and his or her friends have the best sleepover possible, and to ensure your mental sanity remains in check.

Pick a theme
Pirates lost at the sea, trip to the spa, together by the campfire, holidays on regular days, and sports, sports, sports—the options truly are endless! Consult with your kiddos about their interests, and also keep in mind that a classic, no-theme sleepover is totally fine, too. Once you decide, get creative with the food, decor, and activities. It may seem like added work on the front end, but your children and their guests are sure to love watching the night–and your careful planning—unfold.

Let the kids get in on the action
Some adult supervision is always required when kids are involved, but there’s no need to take on all the planning by yourself! Half the fun of a hosting a party is putting it together, so why not share some of that excitement with the kids? If the sleepover is for a birthday party specifically, have them help you handwrite invitations. Their classmates and friends are sure to feel more special with a personalized note directly from your little one inviting them to your abode.

Check for allergies
Before you buy all the ingredients for mini pizzas or any other menu item you or your kiddo has selected, be sure to check with parents of your guests about any potential food allergies. It may sound like added work, but it never hurts to be sure, and will also help so much in terms of preparation. Pro slumber party-throwing tip: Don’t forget pet allergies! If you need to find other arrangements for Fido and Fluffy for one night, it’s best to know in advance.

Pick activities based on the age group
Once you pick a theme, you’ll likely need to prepare an extended list of activities as backup in case boredom sets in. If the slumber party is themed, picking the activities should be a piece of cake! However, it’s always nice to have these to-dos prepared before the guests of honor arrive. When creating your list, get your own little involved to figure out what games and activities are not only trendy, but also appropriate. And, be sure to follow up and do your own research, too!

Get creative with the invitations
We’re living in the digital age of all things tech, so snail mail or e-vites can both be a sweet way for the kids to let their creative juices flow. The invitations are also a first-look into what attendees can expect for the rest of the evening, so be sure not to let this detail pass you by. If you’re not sure where to start, Amazon has a great selection of affordable in-person ‘vites, and Paperless Post is always a hassle-free (not to mention beautiful) digital option as well.

Choices, choices, choices
Kids can be indecisive, just like the rest of us. And, there will certainly be times when not everyone will agree on which movie to watch or what game to play. When a difference of opinion arises, be sure to have a number of options on-hand for the group to choose from. This way, it’s a more democratic system and can alleviate unnecessary tension between friends.

Be cautious of over-planning
It tends to be second nature to make a schedule for any kind of party, but half the fun of a sleepover—especially your kiddos’ first sleepover—is sitting alongside friends and gabbing! So much so that we’re pretty sure the age-old mantra “time flies when you’re having fun” was invented at a slumber party. It’s completely fine to encourage an array of activities, but your tiny guests should never feel pressure to participate in anything they don’t want to. Be the cool mom or dad, not the over zealous, stressed-out version, right?

Fail to plan, plan to fail
This is a slumber party and children we’re working with here. That said, be prepared for anything: forgotten sleeping bags, beloved blankies left at home, and “misplaced” toothbrushes all included. No matter whether you’re hosting a birthday party for 20+ children or a one-friend get-together, always, always be sure to have extra supplies on-hand to ensure that everyone, including yourself, partakes in a stress-free evening!

When it doubt, DIY
Honey face masks, massive forts created from old sheets, a makeshift photo booth—the list for the perfect DIY sleepover project goes on and on. And, don’t forget to think about what aspects of the party you can “do yourself” beforehand. If you want to take it one step further, have a DIY craft prepared for tiny guests to do should a lull in conversation arise. For plenty of ideas, be sure to check out 10 DIY Projects That We Love and 10 DIYs To Do With The Kids.

Eliminate “free for alls”
Slumber parties have the capability to be as lax as they come, but be sure to have your own set of ground rules for the kids to follow throughout the night. Of course, you want the guests to have fun, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t stick to your guns when it comes to eliminating activities and aspects of the night that could be detrimental to their safety. You can be the cool mom or dad, and the smart one, too!

Pump up the jams
No party is complete without the perfect playlist, and with easy tech apps like Spotify and Apple Music, the possibilities for tunes at a slumber party really are endless. Be sure to keep things classic and age-appropriate—Disney hits and sing-a-longs from musicals are always a good option—and of course, consult with your child about their favorite songs to include, as long as they’re not rated “E” for explicit.

Swag bags
A small bag to take home is the perfect souvenir from a fun night, especially at a birthday party. The invite lists can get long, so no need to go crazy or stress about the contents. We recommend checking in with your child about what items they might want in a goody bag, and assembling them together from there. Again, Amazon is a great, affordable resource for items to potentially include.

Keep other parents in mind
It’s always a good rule of thumb to keep parents of your party-goers in mind when it comes to planning. Consider what you might want to be involved in when your child attends the party of someone else, and go from there. Also, be sure that every parent has your contact information, and provides you with emergency numbers should something go awry in the night. Unified parents are parents all the wiser!

Set a rule for minimal technology
Depending on who you converse with, some may feel that there’s never a poor time for selfies and home-videos. Sleepovers are great opportunities to capture special moments, but try to ensure that the group enjoys their time with each other, not just with their smart phones. That said, we recommend suggesting minimal technology for the duration of the sleepover.

When in doubt, movie marathon
Is it really a sleepover if a movie marathon doesn’t take place? Whether it’s a slew of John Hughes films or a night of Disney princess flicks, movies have the ability to be the foundation of a perfect party! Gather the kids around with snacks and pajamas, and tune in for a spectacular movie night.

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