Most children love sleepovers. Mine do, but only when it’s at our house. I like to think that’s because they really like sleeping in their own beds. But in reality it’s probably because they just enjoy driving me crazy. Whichever kind of child you have, at some point you’re going to throw a sleepover.
I have a lot of experience at hosting sleepovers. So I’m going to share with you my tips for throwing the best sleepovers.
Before I start with my sleepover tips, a word of warning : A ‘sleepover’ has nothing to do with sleep. In fact, if you manage to get any sleep during a sleepover you’re absolutely winning. Unfortunately, once agreed to, sleepovers aren’t covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. And you’re not entitled to a refund on the basis that the sleepover is not as described.
So, on to the tips.
Top tips for great sleepovers
1. Pick the friend carefully
This is number 1 because it’s by far the most important factor when it comes to throwing a successful sleepover.
Don’t pick a friend that your child falls out with all the bloody time. The ones who they argue with every 7 minutes over nothing. You will spend your evening alternating between telling your child off, trying to soothe the guest, refereeing and wiping away tears (yours).
You also don’t want to pick one that’s more hyper than your own child. It’s one thing being exasperated by your own child’s boundless energy, but adding in a more hyper child to the mix causes headaches. Children have this unfortunate ability to get louder as the night goes on, and they egg each other on. The hyper one never quietens down to match the calmer one, but the calmer one will match the hyper one.
If you make sure your child is the hyper one, at least you have a benchmark for how loud things are going to get.
So, save your tears, headaches and stress levels by agreeing to have a nice, polite and not very hyper child for the night.
2. Organise a pre-sleepover activity
Even the best of friends fall out when they spend too much time together. Conversely, the key to keeping the peace and maintaining friendships at sleepovers, is making sure they don’t spend too much time together.
I make sure I plan some kind of fun activity, usually before the actual going to bed part of the sleepover. I like to pick something that’s going to use up some energy like; ice skating, clip and climb, swimming, visiting a farm, or going for a long walk in the woods.
This keeps them from getting bored, falling out with each other and wears them out a bit. Wearing them out a bit is great because it means they are more likely to be tired, and you should get some sleep.
3. Don’t bother cooking dinner
Assuming you don’t have a child or a visitor with food allergies, don’t bother cooking. Nobody can ever agree on what they want to eat anyway. It’s so much easier to either order a takeaway, visit a fast food place or go for a carvery for example. Everybody can pick what they want to eat, there’s no clearing up and everyone gets fed.
Or, you can get some pizza bases (or make your own dough) and get all the children to create their own pizza. If you give them a selection of toppings, they can have their pizza exactly how they like it. Even better, you can get gluten free bases, vegetarian or vegan cheese, and lactose-free cheese. This is a great idea if you have children with allergies or dietary requirements.
4. Sweets, snacks & drinks
Every sleepover needs a selection of snacks. Sweets, popcorn, healthy snacks and drinks always go down well after dinner.
Do not allow sweets after 8pm. You don’t need a sugar high hitting at that time!
I make sure everyone brushes their teeth and gets ready for bed for 8pm. Then if anyone asks if they can have more sweets, I can say no because they’ve just brushed their teeth.
5. Accept that nobody will be asleep before 11pm
Sleepovers are just too exciting. There’s a strong possibility that they’ll be playing hide and seek in the dark, or doing a load of screechy giggling well past their normal sleep time. It’s so much easier to just accept that there’s going to be a lot of silliness until they finally crash out.
I tend to use this time to do all the boring upstairs jobs I never want to do. Like cleaning the bathroom, sorting out the linen cupboard or putting away clean laundry. There’s no point trying to watch something or read, because they’ll be too noisy. And by doing things upstairs, the children are more likely to calm down because they know you can hear what they’re up to.
I like to give them until 10pm to be silly, do makeovers, tictocs or whatever. Then I go in and say it’s time to get into bed and turn off the lights. I’m happy for them to chat quietly for a while though. And so far, I’ve not had anyone still be awake after 11pm. Which is fine, sleepovers are meant to be fun after all.
Every good sleepover finishes with a really great breakfast. It doesn’t have to be a cooked breakfast or anything elaborate. Just something a bit different to what you normally serve up before school. My kids usually have cereal or toast for breakfast. But for sleepover breakfasts, we’ll have waffles or pancakes, with fruit and orange juice. Nothing elaborate, but a bit more of a great breakfast. It always goes down well.
So, there’s my top tips for throwing a great sleepover. You can always add in face masks, makeovers, and dance competitions if you want to. Or watch movies and/or play games on a games console.
Just remember that it’s only one night and it will be over. And the next night your children will be desperate to go to bed a bit earlier because they’re knackered!
Good luck! And let me know your own top tips!