When my daughter was 6, she asked about the best birthday party I ever attended. I recounted in detail my first sleepover. I was 9. We played Twister. We watched a movie. We went to McDonald's for hotcakes the next morning.
“That’s what I’m doing for my birthday,” Molly said.
I didn’t argue. It was July. Her birthday’s in February. She’d change her mind. Right?
My husband and I were torn. Seven seemed young for a sleepover, but . . . We were tired of the Chuck E. Cheese-type party. The chaos. The 30 kids playing different games instead of interacting. That big mouse. And, oy—the expense.
We decided to go for it.
Here’s how it went:
We set the limit at five girls. I followed up paper invitations with an email to parents offering to host a play date before the party so their children would feel comfortable at my house and explaining that kids not used to sleeping away from home could come for the evening part and not sleep over. That last part is key!
All five responded “yes”—two for the evening only and three for the whole shebang.
Kids this age need structure, so we prepared activities beforehand: Mad Libs, a movie, and wooden jewelry boxes to decorate. I also bought glow-in-the-dark bracelets and made a list of games that didn’t need to be bought.
Here’s the great thing about a sleepover at this age: the kids are excited the second they walk through the door.
It was amazing how many of them had never played the games that were staples when we were kids: musical chairs, Twister, etc. They were a hit, as were the jewelry boxes (note: glitter glue goes fast!). The biggest hit was when the girls donned glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces, shut the lights, and danced to Kidz Bop. I gave each guest a chance to take photos with my camera. At first, all they’d see on the screen was a bunch of glowing rings; after the flash, the scene would be revealed, and they’d laugh hysterically.
The surprise hit? Mad Libs (with many incarnations of the word “poop”).
I put on the movie around 8:00, and then it was lights out. They fell asleep around 11:00. I was prepared to wake up at 3 am to take a screaming kid home, but guess what? The only “kid” who didn’t sleep through the night was me.
You know how every TV show promises to be the one “everyone’s talking about” and then it isn’t? This wasn’t like that. The girls talked about the party for weeks. And I still remember my first sleepover almost 30 years later.
More Sleepover Party Tips
- Explain to your daughter that some kids might not be allowed to sleep over—and that just one or two staying the night makes it a sleepover.
- Give younger siblings their own sleepover—at Grandma’s.
- Sleep near the partiers but not necessarily in the same room. Make sure they know where you’ll be and that they can come to you any time.
- Go somewhere cheap, quick, and kid-friendly (read: McDonald's) for breakfast. (Bonus tip: If you go to McDonald’s, ask for the Happy Meal toy for each guest—they’ll usually comply).
- Try this with boys at your own risk!