How to throw a successful sleepover party and stay sane!
As a mum of two daughters I have so far managed to successfully avoid the whole sleepover thing , my youngest is only 6 so way too young for a houseful of overnight guests and my eldest has, until recently stuck to just a couple of close school friends so a big girly sleepover has never been an option.
This year however, in her last year of primary, she has branched out and her social circle has grown to include 6 close girl friends, or should I say BFFs. So when we broached the subject of what she might like to do for her 11th birthday she uttered the dreaded words “can I have a sleepover party?”
Now, my first reaction was to say no, her birthday falls between Christmas and New Year and I am always so frazzled by all the Christmas activities that the thought of hosting a party that lasts around 15 hours (!!) filled me with horror.
However I was keen to make her last party before “big school” something special and I was delighted for her that she had made a group of friends that made this type of activity possible, so being the big softie I am, I agreed and we set the date for just after Christmas. Needless to say I had one very happy and giddy 10 year old!
We sent the invites out around 4 weeks before the party, we set the numbers at 7 (including my daughter). I turned detective and made sure that all the girls who were coming got on well and I discovered that actually most of them had slept at each other’s houses before. This reassured me that there would be no major fallings out on the night.
My daughter got giddier and giddier each day in the run up to Christmas, coming home from school telling me how excited they all were and what they were planning to do etc. I, however have to confess got more and more anxious about the whole thing, partly because I hadn’t actually planned anything for them to do and also because I desperately wanted them to have a good time and for it to go well.
Despite owning my own party business, I always find that I am so last minute with my own daughters’ birthdays, and this year, despite all my worrying, was no exception. All of a sudden New Year was upon us and we had 6 girls arriving to stay at our house in 1 week and I had prepared nothing, eeek!
It was at this point that my daughter mentioned a stretch limo… another friend of hers from school had hired one for her party to take them to a local restaurant and she loved the idea of it. I did know that I wanted some kind of structure or focal point to the evening. I didn’t want all the girls in the house for hours on end without any planned activity to do, we had thought about taking them out to a local restaurant for pizza, but then the limo idea was raised..
Initially we thought maybe a limo ride to the restaurant, but when I called a limo company and found out the cost of 1 hours hire (£150!) I quickly shelved that idea! My daughter was of course, disappointed and informed me she had told all her friends that they were having a limo and that they were all very excited and that of course she couldn’t possibly disappoint them..
In the past we have usually spent in the region of £200 on a party, we have hired magicians, soft play areas etc and they typically come in at around that figure. So I proposed a compromise, a limo ride for an hour and then pizza back at home, she was sold, I had one happy birthday girl again.
I called the limo company and booked an hour city centre cruise, we live close to Manchester, so the limo would pick them up at 6.30pm and drive them round the city hot spots before delivering them back home an hour later.
Now we had some structure to the evening we could firm up on some of the details. My daughter typed up a note, telling her friends what time to arrive (and more importantly what time to go in the morning!) and what to bring with them. We asked them to bring their own bedding, an activity to do and their favourite snack for the essential midnight feast.
In the few days before the party my daughter and I planned a couple of games to do, we settled on a grown up pass the parcel with lots of fun and silly forfeits as well as the odd prize, the maltesers game (you pick up maltesers using a straw whilst being timed) and Bean Boozled which is like Russian roulette with disgusting flavour jelly beans (we bought it on line at Amazon for around £6 – they were very excited about that one)
On the day of the party, I spent quite a bit of time decorating the party room, I went for lots of inexpensive silver glitter curtains which I hung all round the walls in our kitchen-diner. These fab decorations make such a big impact and can really transform a space into a proper party room, especially when you add a small disco light.
I chose silver and hot pink party tableware and added our fab new Party led illuminated sign along with some pink acrylic champagne flutes. Finishing touches like the striped straws and cocktail umbrellas really made the party table look great and the girls loved the “apple” champagne complete with popping cork!
Everybody arrived at 6pm very giddy and excited about the limousine, I did panick slightly that it would not turn up but at 6.30pm on the dot, it drew up outside the house and OMG, they went crazy!! I have to confess it did look amazing, it was absolutely enormous, and when they opened the door it looked like a nightclub inside.
It was filled with music and laser lights and balloons and certainly had the “wow” factor. I packed Dad off inside with them as “camera man” and off they went on their cruise, which according to Dad, went amazingly well, they spent the whole time waving to people and pretending to be popstars!
Whilst they were away, I finished prepping the party table and ordered some takeaway pizzas to be delivered just after they returned.
After the pizzas and cakes had been demolished we popped the cork on the “champagne” and toasted the birthday girl. Party games followed, the pass the parcel with forfeits worked well, as did Bean Boozled
By then it was around 9 o’clock and the girls wanted to go upstairs and set the beds up, (my husband and I were surprised they wanted to bed down so early!). My daughter has a fairly large room so we could fit all of them into her bedroom. If that isn’t possible at your house you could use a downstairs room, I think the key to success here is that they all will want to be in the same room. We had a combination of a double sofa bed and some airbeds to accommodate our guests, we hadn’t set them up earlier as we didn’t want to fill the floor with beds when they were using the room. With hindsight this was a slight mistake as we had bought new airbeds that we hadn’t used before and discovered that we didn’t have a foot pump to suit. We had to resort to lung power for the single airbed and the car tyre pump for the double.
The girls had all brought their own duvets and pillows so as soon as we had set the beds up we left them to it. They really enjoyed sorting their things and making their beds comfy and cosy. And that is really where we left them, I know they watched a film in bed and then they shared a secrets game, which of course we were not allowed to participate in. I crept up to bed at around half past midnight and they were all chatting and sharing their midnight feast treats. Fortunately our bedroom is on a different floor to my daughter’s room so we were well away from any noise and activity. I actually managed a lie in until 9am!
The girls were all tired the next morning and I know they had very little, if any sleep, there was a game of Twister set up in the bathroom, which apparently was taking place at 4am!
There was just time for a quick breakfast before it was time to go. Our guests left our house tired but happy, muttering “best party ever” I closed the door to the last guest and gave myself a pat on the back for delivering such a successful sleepover, then my daughter turned to me and said “that was awesome Mum, when can we do it again?”…
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My 15 tips for a guaranteed successful, stress free Sleepover Party!
- Keep numbers to a reasonable level – I would recommend no more than 8
- Try to make sure the girls are firm friends and have all done this type of thing before
- Try to remove any younger siblings from the house for the night! My youngest daughter slept over at a friends house which made things a lot easier as I didn’t have to worry about what she was up to, plus we had an extra room upstairs which the girls could use.
- Ask your guests to bring bedding, a game to play and a favourite snack for the midnight feast, this is really helpful as it drastically reduces the amount of things you have to buy and prepare.
- Make sure the girls have agreed on who is sleeping where and with whom in advance, that way you will avoid any squabbles on the night.
- Plan some simple fun activities for them to do to give a little structure to the evening, however be flexible, not everything will go to plan.
- This is not essential but if you can stretch to it, creating a “high point” of the evening, maybe a much anticipated movie, a meal out or an entertainer of some sort would work well. We went for the limo ride, it was expensive for an hour, but I can honestly say it was worth it and definitely gave the wow factor to our party.
- Have lots of disposable party tableware at hand, we used paper plates, cups and napkins for both the pizzas at night and breakfast in the morning. This made things so much easier to clear up.
- Inexpensive decorations like the foil curtains and a small disco light, really gave the party room the “wow” factor and the girls just loved it.
- Don’t start the party until slightly later, that way they don’t have hours to occupy before they bed down for the actual “sleepover” part.
- Don’t leave it until last minute to blow up airbeds, or if you do make sure they are tried and tested ones.
- Be prepared for the fact that they probably will not sleep at all! And try to make sure you are sleeping as far away from them as possible.
- Make sure you have some simple, yummy treats for breakfast, we chose chocolate croissants and waffles, simple to heat in oven and served on paper plates, very easy.
- Make sure you have the phone numbers for all their parents just in case.
- Finally try to relax and enjoy it, accept that they will mostly do what they want and probably will not sleep very much. My only two rules were to make sure everybody was unhurt and happy, as long as that was the case I didn’t much mind what they got up to!