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There is something about every kid’s first slumber party that both parent and child will remember vividly for years to come. Whether for a landmark birthday celebration or to commemorate the last day of school, a slumber party can be a great deal of fun for the host to plan and, hopefully, for the guests to attend. If you are planning to a host a slumber party, there are a few things you should manage just as soon as the invitations go out.
One key to the success of a slumber party is making guests feel both welcome and comfortable. The person planning to host a slumber party has to keep her guests in mind. Prepare ahead of time by making sure that your bathroom is equipped with essentials. Also, decide how to create night lighting so that your guests can find their way. You should show younger guests where the bathroom is when they arrive and once again before bed. Remember that many, if not all, of your slumber party guests will never have been in your home, let alone stayed all night, and it’s not as familiar to them as it is to you.
In general, it's a good idea to be clear about the start and end times of the party. You'll find that by the morning, most of your guests haven't slept as much as they probably should, so too much time before departing can lead to conflicts and crankiness. If the party has a clear start time, then you can give a tour of the house, clarify any house rules, and begin structured activities with all guests present. A clear end time the following morning, our advice is to err on the early side, will ensure that the slumber party aftermath of cleaning and napping can be taken care of easily.
When you host a slumber party, planning should include what foods to serve, especially for breakfast. It’s easy to plan the afternoon and evening menu. If you fall short of ideas, just opt for the standard pizza dinner, and maybe desert can be ice cream and cake. Breakfast, on the other hand, needs to be given special consideration. Certainly not every guest will eat the same things for breakfast, and some may have milk or other allergies. You might consider having one or two types of cereal, bagels, and french toast or waffles, along with both milk and juice. Your guests then get a variety to choose from and won’t go home hungry.
Activities to pass the slumber party time may or may not be necessary. It may be best to have one or two particularly solid but fun activities that can be introduced if the need arises, but for the most part, the purpose of a slumber party is for kids to “do their own thing” and be relaxed about it. If things get awkward and the kids don’t seem to know what to do with unstructured time, introduce one of the planned activities and see what happens. Usually, smaller kids will find plenty to keep themselves busy, and older, teenage kids prefer no interference whatsoever, but the tween crowd may need some direction at times.
Explaining house rules is another key to success when you host a slumber party. You don’t have to cover every tiny detail, but emphasize any rules of your home that might be different from others. For example, if juice and pop is only permitted in the kitchen, or if no one can eat or drink anything after a certain time, tell these rules to your guests. Hearing them from the house authority gives merit to the rules and will make it easier on your child in the long run.
It’s certainly no small feat to prepare to host a slumber party. There is quite a bit of work involved in preparation and in hosting. One of the best things you can do is to involve the hosting child in the preparations. Remember, some guests may feel nervous about attending, but your own child may be nervous about hosting. Helping him or her prepare to host a slumber party will help ensure it is a great success.
Here's what a typical sleepover party for 8-13 year old girls looked like at our house:
Part one: Bring all the girls home from school to our house on a Friday. Everyone changes into their bathing suits and gets a towel. Pool party is in full swing by 5 pm. Pizza and snacks are served at 6 pm. Swimming continues till 8 p.m.
Part two: Everyone gets dried off, changes clothes and is ready for a chocolate fondue with cake and strawberries by 9 p.m.
Part three: After everyone settles down, a movie is put on and sleeping bags are set up comfortably around the TV.
Parents pretend to go to bed by 11. Girls continue to snack into the wee hours. Parents do not sleep because of all the noise.
My best slumber party tips for parents who are planning their first slumber party: Give the kids a camcorder and they will video themselves to sleep. Seriously, some kids will even write a play, perform it, and enjoy watching it before the evening is over.
If you are going to let them create their own video, make sure you also have a box of costumes or old clothes they can use to create their cast of characters.
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