How to plan the perfect sleepover

Sleepovers are pretty much a rite of passage for a child today – and for parents. Here’s how to plan the perfect sleepover in which everyone has fun (and gets some sleep)!

For a child or teenager, sleepovers are a world of fun. But for parents, they can be a night of hell, with excitable, sugared up kids who seem to do anything but sleep.

The secret to a sleepover everyone enjoys is planning. By setting expectations and planning wisely, you can ensure that you all get enough sleep, while your kids make memories with their friends.

And to help you we’ve put together this quick guide to the perfect sleepover.

1) Plan the date

The first step is to plan the date carefully. You need enough notice to check everyone can make it – especially in sports season when many kids will have early morning training on a weekend.

You also want to choose a date that doesn’t require people to get up early and be anywhere important the next day, as kids are likely to be tired after a night of fun.

A work or school night therefore is also out. An ideal night in non-school holidays would be a Friday or Saturday. Fridays are ideal as you all have two days to recover afterwards. But Saturdays might be easier to arrange around weekend commitments, as Sundays tend to be quieter for most families.

2) Pick a theme

To make your sleepover more fun you might want to choose a theme. If it’s for a birthday, you could choose a theme connected to your child’s current interests. If it’s around Christmas, Halloween or Easter, you may choose to use that as a theme.

Or, for older children or young teens, you might want a more generic theme, such as a pamper party or movie night.

3) Decide who to invite

Next you need to decide who to invite to your sleepover. Factors like space will help to decide numbers, as will your confidence in crowd control! Make sure that the group you invite all get on well, otherwise things could get messy at midnight when everyone is tired and on a sugar comedown.

If you prefer smaller groups, or your child has friends who don’t get on, you could always decide to do two or more smaller sleepovers rather than one big party.

4) Work out sleeping arrangements

If you are having children over for a sleepover, they will actually need somewhere to sleep (even if they don’t end up getting much…). So work out sleeping arrangements. This will also help you to decide on numbers.

Do you want everyone to sleep in a bed? Or a bedroom? Or can they sleep in a playroom or living room? And if so, do you have enough couches or camping mats for them?

If they are sleeping on sofas or the floor, you can ask their parents to send them with a sleeping bag or duvet and pillow to make things easier.

If they sleep in bedrooms upstairs they will be closer for you to monitor in case things get rowdy or they don’t go to sleep. If they are older though, you may prefer them downstairs and further out of earshot so you can get a better night’s sleep.

5) Decide on the entertainment

What will everyone do on your sleepover? Do you want to wear them out with games in the early part of the evening? Or are you planning a movie marathon for them? The last thing you want is a pack of bored kids trapped in your home, so consider what kind of activities or entertainment will keep them amused.

6) Choose your snacks

One staple of sleepovers is midnight feasts. However, they don’t actually have to be at midnight, especially if the children are younger. A box of treats brought out as a surprise as they are settling down to a movie will be very well received, and help keep them quiet.

If you want to win brownie points with your kids you can buy treats online, like these boxes from Turkish Munchies.

The boxes contain a colourful collection of delicious sweet and savoury treats, with descriptions (and listed allergens). They’re not something you can buy on the high street so have the wow factor of originality. Kids love their bright wrappers and the fun of trying something new.

Speaking of allergens, remember to check with parents about any allergies before the sleepover to ensure any snacks you provide are safe for everyone.

7) Set rules around sleeping

Finally, you need to set rules around sleeping well in advance, so everyone knows the guidelines and it’s no surprise when you enforce them. Negotiate with your child a reasonable bedtime for their sleepover, taking into account it is a special occasion but also that everyone in the house needs a good night’s sleep (including them).

Obviously this rule will be guided by age. As children get into their teens they may not welcome a curfew, especially if they are sleeping downstairs. In this scenario it may be more appropriate to set behaviour boundaries instead, such as noise levels, numbers of guests and access to alcohol.

This is especially important if you plan to be away from the home for the sleepover – you don’t want to return to a ruined home like this poor mother!

Plan a fun sleepover

Sleepovers are part of childhood for many children, and where they will make memories to look back on in years to come. So make sure you plan a sleepover in which everyone can have fun – but also get some sleep!