For many parents, the first sleepover is a moment they’ve dreaded for quite some time. For others, it’s an exciting opportunity to show you’re the coolest parents in town!
There’s so much to figure out ahead of the big slumber party. What will everyone eat? Where will they sleep? Perhaps most importantly, what will they actually do? Whether you’re hosting one guest or a whole classroom – the sleepover ideas below are sure to bring them plenty of joy and laughter, without creating too much mess for you to deal with.
If it’s hot out and you’ve got a garden – then some outdoor games and activities are a sleepover must-have! A good bit of exercise is always welcome, and it’s also a great way to let them burn some energy so that come nighttime, things get a little less hectic.
Make sure you’ve got some toys at the ready. A frisbee is an easy, fun choice for kids of any age! If you’ve got the space, an easy-to-set-up volleyball net can provide hours of active fun. There are so many games you can play outside that will keep them busy without a whole lot of set up. Hula hoops, jump ropes, kites, or even some chalk for hopscotch are always great to turn to!
A trampoline is a legendary sleepover spot where you can let them do their thing. They’ll bounce nonstop and come up with their own thrilling games, and once they need a break, the trampoline becomes the best place to chill out with some well-earned ice lollies.
If it’s just a one-on-one sleepover or a smaller group, it’s easier to just let them run wild in the garden, but if you’re hosting a bigger group you might want some activities planned to keep everything under control. If you’ve got an especially big group, you can even have a few activities going at the same time and make a game out of rushing to the next activity in intervals.
In the summertime, there’s nothing quite like a water fight to get the kids active! You don’t need much – a couple packs of water balloons will do the trick, but you can up the ante with water guns to really get the action going. Just make sure you either have enough for everyone or you’ve got a good sharing system in place, you don’t want them fighting over a super soaker!
(Make sure you’ve also got enough towels or you remind the guests to bring towels if wet play activities are on the schedule.)
There’s also plenty of games you can play without anything other than a bit of outdoor space. Games like Red Rover or Grandmother’s Footsteps are great if you’ve got a big group.
If you don’t have a whole lot of outdoor space, you could always take them to the park or playground for a couple hours!
Remember that some kids may not enjoy getting super competitive, so it helps to have a few group activities that aren’t all about winning and losing and are just pure fun!
Once they’ve been active in the sun, you’ll want them to chill out a bit – even if they’d rather keep going a few more hours!
You should go for a relaxing activity that’s stimulating but won’t get them too energetic as the sun sets. A great way to get them creative is to set up some arts and crafts activities.
Origami is always a classic if you don’t want things to get too messy, or painting, clay modeling, scrapbooking, paper plane making – you’ve got all sorts of options!
Having said that, if you’re looking to modernise your arts and crafts offering, our next suggestion is the trendiest of them all…
Papier-mâché and painting are always exciting ways to get creative – but these days, there’s no more welcome addition to the ultimate sleepover than slime! You can find plenty of themes and ideas online, or simply let them go crazy with their own imaginative creations. Get all sorts of colours ready, as well as plenty of extras like glitter, googly eyes and beads, and they’ll be molding and crafting for hours!
Of course, you can expect a bit of mess with this one – but you can also expect them to go home raving about how they’ve just had the best sleepover ever!
Once the sun begins to set, you’ll want them to cool down a little to avoid any bedtime chaos as best you can. You’ll want to go for activities that can keep them engaged without being overly active or stimulating.
Come dinner time, you might feel it’s easiest to just order in some pizzas – but taking the easy way out won’t nab you the best host award! Instead, get the kids involved with prepping dinner with some DIY pizza making. Have a selection of toppings ready and let them make their own dream pizza with homemade dough. Kids will love the feeling of putting together their own meal.
Have some nibbles and sides like French fries and chicken (or meat-free) nuggets ready, but let them get their chef hat on and take care of the main course.
A great way to let them unwind is to set up a home salon with some kid-friendly spa day activities. Whether it’s manicures, face masks, letting them explore their hair braiding skills or all of the above – you can find plenty of spa day products that are safe for older kids to enjoy.
Movie night is always a great shout!
Once they reach a certain age, a good scary movie is a sleepover classic. If they’re a bit older, they’ve probably got a bit of independence to choose their own spooky lineup, but if you’ve got young ones to look after, go for a lighthearted family comedy or two – something too action packed might get them a bit riled up before bedtime.
To make it a little more exciting, you can make a game out of deciding which movie or movies to watch, or even make a game out of the movie itself! Movie bingo is a great way to add some extra fun. You can make your own bingo cards packed with classic film tropes, or simply find some online and print them off.
It’s great to have snacks at the ready; popcorn is essential! Be careful not to offer too many sugary sweets though, or else you’ll have a loud night ahead of you…
Board games are the perfect indoor activity for a sleepover. There won’t be a lot of mess, you don’t need to do much, and a good board game can keep them going for a couple hours. Once nighttime hits you’ll want to go for activities that don’t require a whole lot of set up and, most importantly, clean up. So, while arts and crafts are great for daytime, come night board games will be your best friend!
While you want to reduce their screen time before bed, the evening is a good time for them to sit back with some video games, too. If your kids and their friends are gaming fanatics, you don’t want to deprive them entirely of their favourite pastime! If you’ve made sure they get some good time in the sun during the day, you can reward them in the evening with some time for gaming before dinner.
Just make sure you know what’s allowed and what isn’t for your guests – the last thing you want is an upset parent calling you the next day to ask why you let their child play Grand Theft Auto!
There are great, family-friendly party games that you can get on most video game consoles, including more active games that they can play indoors on a rainy day.
If you want to really let their imaginations run wild and keep things active a little while longer, go for party games like Mad Libs or Murder in the Dark. These games keep them engaged and active while letting them get super creative. Charades is another great choice to make sure their thinking caps stay on!
If they’ve still got a bit of energy to burn – throw on some music and have a dance party in your living room! Kids love to sing and dance, and this is a great physical activity that’s not super sporty or competitive, so everyone can get involved.
One brilliant way to add some extra oomph to a dance party is karaoke. You don’t need any fancy equipment, you can simply print off some lyrics and get a whole choir going, and these days you can find karaoke videos easily online! Of course, a toy microphone will have them really feeling like superstars.
They can get even more creative with it if you add some fancy dress into the mix. Bring out a toy box of props, wigs and costumes so they can really live the popstar life!
To really go all out, get them to choreograph a dance routine to their favourite song!
Now is the tricky part – getting them to settle down and get some sleep! It’s pretty much inevitable that once the lights are out the chatter and giggles are sure to continue – but if you’ve kept them active throughout the day, they’ll hopefully wind down fairly quickly.
You’ll need to make sure everyone’s got a comfy spot to sleep if you want to ensure they (and you) get a bit of shuteye. If you’re hosting a big group, you might need to clear some floor space and make sure everyone’s got sleeping bags and if possible, a comfy futon to sleep on. Bigger parties might mean having to get creative and using as many soft surfaces as you have!
One way to bring even more imaginative fun to bed time is to set up an indoor campsite! Bring out all the blankets, pillows, cushions and sheets you’ve got and let them set up a grand fort, or make your own indoor tents to bring summer camp to your living room!
When it’s just a couple guests, they’ll be delighted to have a comfy trundle to snooze on! A daybed is great for any house with busy kids; the daybed itself is a perfect spot to unwind and watch movies, and come bedtime it doubles as a perfect guest bed. Plus, daybeds from Aspace come with a trundle underneath to accommodate another guest!
If your child is shaping up to be quite the social butterfly – you might consider getting them a high sleeper with a daybed and trundle underneath – or even a bunk bed if overnight guests are becoming a regular occurrence.
In the morning, your main focus may be getting everyone out the house as soon as possible so you can restore a bit of order – but you might need to fill a bit of time before pick up, and you don’t want them going home on an empty stomach!
A good breakfast is essential – and just like dinner, you can get them involved too. Grab a selection of healthy fruits and host a smoothie challenge! This is a great way to get them energised and ready for the day ahead while encouraging some more hands-on, healthy fun.
If you’ve got a bit of time to kill before they’re being picked up – get them back outside playing until home time, or if it’s cold out, let them relax with some video games or cartoons so you’re not creating more mess in the final stretch!
While this may be a tricky one – it’s so important that you make sure to give the kids a bit of space and time to themselves, especially if they’re getting a little older. That’s the only way you can make sure you gain that esteemed reputation as the coolest parents around!
It is of course important to supervise and make sure everything’s under control, so make sure you’re at least keeping an ear out when you’re not in the room and check on them every now and then.
Just try not to be too intrusive and let them have some fun on their own; sleepovers are an important time for them to gain some independence and figure out their shared interests. When they hang out at school they’ve almost always got a teacher over their shoulder; now is their time for a bit of extra freedom.