The almighty slumber party. We've all had them, and we've all been to them. Several tween-age girls gather at one brave family's house for a sleepover filled with laughs, noise, music and food. I remember my parents cringing every year around my birthday, dreading the "screaming girls" in the basement.
We were loud. VERY loud.
This year, I made it clear there would be no large birthday extravaganzas for my two oldest munchkins. They both had parties last year, and my daughter's included fifteen girls from gymnastics and school. This birthday would have to be celebrated on a smaller scale. A much smaller scale, with less people to entertain.
Hence the sleepover party.
Here, in detail, is my personal survival guide when it comes to throwing a sleepover birthday party. Depending on how brave you are (and your patience level), you may or may not want to add to my agenda.
While it's tempting to invite every friend from class and the playground, keeping the amount of girls to a minimum will only benefit everyone in the long run. Keep the group to no more than six, because when you get past half a dozen tween girls parties get rowdy. And the chance someone will end up crying increases with every child you invite. Stick to a small group of girls who all know each other and get along well.
Think balloons, tablecloths and banners. Set the mood and have a "Birthday Girl" sash or tiara for the birthday girl.
Start the Party Around Dinnertime
For me, starting a sleepover after school is just about as pleasing as sticking needles in my eyes. If you start the party around 6pm, you can have pizza ready as the girls arrive. Serve fun drinks such as shirley temples or milkshakes. The key to a great birthday is serving up special treats and keeping the mood light. By the time everyone has eaten you will be ready for an activity.
Plan an Activity
While it may seem easier to just have girls over and let them run wild, the commotion will get old after about ten minutes. Have a fun age-appropriate activity ready for after dinner. Think tie dye teeshirts, painting a jewelry box, or making friendship bracelets. One of the upsides to hosting a few girls is the activity can be more involved, and can dry overnight. Play music and join in the fun. Stay involved to keep the girls entertained and the party running smoothly.
After the craft, let the girls get crazy while you clean up. You will rein them back in easy with dessert.
Make Dessert an Event
After the activity is finished, have the girls make ice cream sundaes. Make sure you have groovy toppings, such as candies, sprinkles, cherries and flavored syrup. Give them a choice of two ice creams, scoop into sundae dishes and let them have at it. Not up for sundaes? Bake cupcakes beforehand and leave the frosting off. Give each girl two cupcakes and have them decorate their own for dessert. Don't forget to sing to the birthday girl!
Rent a Movie
After dessert, set the girls up with a movie. Before the party let the birthday girl pick a rental, and have an area by the television with space for pillows and blankets. Once everyone is in their jammies, settle them in for movie night. Make it clear that after the movie is over, lights are going out. The girls can chat as long as they like, but they have to stay in bed and keep the noise to a minimum. Eventually, they will all fall asleep and you won't be climbing out of bed half asleep at 3am asking them to settle down.
Serve an Easy Breakfast
For breakfast, make your life easy and serve cinnamon rolls. Or grab pastries. Make pancakes or french toast. After the girls have a full tummy, they will all be ready to get dressed, and you can clean up the sleepover area. While the girls dress make sure to sort out who owns what pillow and which stuffed animal.
Pick Up Time
The quickest way to burn yourself and your daughter out is to have her friends stay well into the day. The girls will be tired, and will start to get on each other's nerves. Make sure you state on the invitation a morning pick up time that works for you.
A Rough Survival Timeline:
6:00-7:00 : Arrival, Dinner
7:30-8:00 : Craft
8:00 : Dessert/Ice Cream Sundaes
8:45 : Jammies/Get Movie Snacks
9:00 : MOVIE!
11:00 : Lights Out (Chat away!)
8:00-9:00 : Breakfast
9:30 : Get girls dressed, sort out crafts, clothes and blankets etc
10:00-10:30 : Pick Up
After you've thrown a successful sleepover, get your kids in bed early that evening. Settle in with wine. Dessert. A movie or anything else your heart desires. You'll need it.