Pajama Party Giggles
By April Schweitzer
The Hassle-Free Guide to Throwing the Best Slumber Party Ever
The Numbers Game
Before deciding on a sleepover for your childs next birthday or big event, you need to make sure your child is ready for the excitement. Theres no magic age for a first sleepover. It is important to make sure your child feels comfortable with a change from his normal bedtime and sleeping habits. Spending the night at Grandmas or a cousins house is a good trial run. Also, consider your childs personality and sociability. Does your son or daughter tire quickly of playing with friends, prefer to play alone, or have difficulty sharing? If so, hosting a whole group of friends overnight might be an overwhelming and frustrating experience. Many 6- or 7-year-olds will enjoy having a friend spend the night, but a sleepover will probably be more successful if the children are 8 or 9 and ready for the independence of staying overnight with a group of friends. Even if you feel your child is ready for a slumber party at a younger age, be sure to discuss the idea with his friends parents before sending out the official invitations. One local teenager, Carrie Winecott, recalls that her favorite activities at slumber parties were flashlight tag and makeovers. If the kids are so young that they need activities planned for them, theyre probably not ready for slumber parties, she said. The best time I had at slumber parties was when we did more self-directed stuff like paint our nails and watch movies.
Once you decide to go ahead with the party, the next step is to create a guest list. Less is definitely more! First, consider your space. How many sleeping bags will fit? Do you have room for your childs closest friends? Consider whether guests will be comfortable with each other. Make sure no one feels left out. A slumber party may not be the best time to introduce a friend from the old neighborhood to a whole group of new kids. Three to seven guests is enough without getting too chaotic.
Help Your Child Be the Master of Ceremonies
While you may not get much sleep the night of the party, dont feel like you have to organize every activity and direct all events. Let them stay up late, sneak midnight snacks, and play a few goofy pranks. Just make sure the party is running smoothly.
With your child, plan a few fun, kid-directed activities give a little structure without making party goers feel like theyre on a schedule. Liven up the evening with a little help from the kids. Instead of ordering pizza, let the kids top their own personal crusts. For dessert, have an ice cream sundae creation contest, or put budding chefs to work baking brownies or cookies. Give older kids all the basics to make cookies as well as small bowls of mix-ins like chocolate chips, M&Ms, nuts, raisins, candy bar pieces and so on. Remember to ask parents if their children have any food allergies! Let each child add her favorite toppings to part of the batter, and see which concoction is the favorite. Party favors offer another chance to get the kids involved. Instead of filling goodie bags with dollar store trinkets, get your guests involved in tie-dying T-shirts, decorating picture frames, making jewelry, or putting together their own wooden planes or cars. Other activities that are great fun but require minimal adult participation include old standbys like makeovers, scavenger hunts, board games, solving mysteries, movies, science experiments, dress-up and karaoke. Videotape the kids doing a dress-up modeling show or performing karaoke music videos. They will be giggling all night after seeing themselves on television. When it gets dark, send the kids to the back yard for a game of flashlight tag. It tags hiding players by catching them in the light. Flashlights are also helpful for getting the kids to go to sleep, says Denise Cerniglia, mom to 9-year-old Max. I give the kids flashlights and then turn off the lights. I tell them that if they stay in their sleeping bags they can use the flashlights to talk as long as they want, but if they get loud, and I can hear them from my room, it will be lights out. Having the room dark seems to mellow the mood, and they get excited about using the flashlights.
When guests arrive:
- Be sure to get phone numbers, including pager or cell phone numbers, from parents.
April is a freelance writer, teacher, mom, and aveteran of many slumber parties.
Ivy Publications, LLC was founded in 1998 and publishes AlbemarleFamily Living Magazine, The Charlottesville Welcome Book and many associated special projects.