Surviving a Tween Sleepover 101

Table was set and ready for when the girls arrived.

Recently, my daughter turned 9, and her idea of a great party was to have her 5 closest friends sleepover. I thought, OK, no problem! Should be easy and inexpensive, right?

I planned well. I made a timeline, ordered invitations and party decor well in advance; I even had her choose the treats and dinner we would serve weeks before the party, so that I could shop for groceries early and nothing would be last minute. (Me overcompensating for my habitual procrastination.) Of course, everyone knows, even the best plans, fail! So, there is always plan B = rolling with the tide of tween imagination!

My Rules for Surviving a Sleepover

1. First, order or print invitations that go with the theme of your party and send them out 3-4 weeks in advance. Don't forget to include a request for guests to bring sleeping bags and pilllows! Suggestion:  Limit the number of slumbering guests to 4-6 children, unless you can bring in reinforcements...
Custom but inexpensive invitations from
2. Create a basic outline or schedule for the party. Plan an activity, craft, or game - it might not happen, but you don't want 6 bored kids on your hands for hours - they WILL find something to do and it will involve screaming...

This was my timeline:

5:30-6:00     Arrival
6:00-6:30     Dinner
6:30-7:00     Dance Party
7:00-7:30     Dessert 
7:30-8:30      Makeovers/Nails 
8:30-9:00      Photo sessions
9:00-11:00    Movie & Popcorn
11:00                Lights Out

9:00-9:30        Breakfast – Donuts & Fruit cups
9:30-10:00     Get girls dressed &pack up
10:00-10:30  Pick Up 

Reality Check # 1:  The girls arrived very excited, ran around laughing, screaming, and talking about One Direction until dinner.(The dog also got very excited and created a few messes for me to clean up while I was trying to order the pizza.) What I expected: they went through 2 cheese pizzas and a gallon of lemonade in about 10 min. What I didn't expect: they threw marshmallows at each other and talked about farting and constipation while at the table. And, I went through a tub of baby wipes and 2 rolls of paper towels cleaning up random messes.

3. Plan to serve your child's favorite foods and treats - you won't please every child, so don't try. Make sure the foods you serve are easy to dish and clean up. You won't have time for complicated meals or to scrub up pots and pans. And I don't recommend serving soda! They don't need the caffeine or sugar and are perfectly happy with milk or water with their dessert.
Coconut Bon Bons & Banana Muffins - 2 of my daughters favorites
Cupcakes are easier to make and to serve than a whole cake.

Reality Check #2 - I underestimated "The Group," as my daughter calls her little circle of friends. Days before the party, she came home from school announcing that they had decided they didn't want pizza for dinner, and they wanted pancakes for breakfast. Well, I was firm on the pizza, and thankfully, my husband volunteered to make biscuits for breakfast. (I am NOT a morning person, especially after spending the evening with 6 children who were awake until 1:00 am, and there was no way I was committing to standing over the stove for an hour, making enough pancakes for a hungry mob of prepubescent girls.)

4. Make sure to check your sweet little guests for smuggled goods they brought from home! One friend brought clay and my clean dance party idea turned into "make your own pottery hour" and had me scrubbing the play room table for about 20 min. And after dessert, the "makeovers" turned into "let's paint the pottery hour!"  (They did dance and sing VERY LOUDLY to music, which was quite cute and fun to watch) while I did their nails.)

While painting the pottery, they also took a shot at painting one another with acrylic paint! This led to my HUGE MISTAKE of offering up face paint...which led to their idea of making a horror movie and covering themselves in face paint (NOT so easy to get off of faces, bodies, walls, sofas....).

Needless to say, we spent 2 hours while they created their own G-rated "horror" movie, and I acted as camera mom.  They didn't settle down to watch the movie until after 11:00 PM and were awake until 1:00 AM...And, the next morning, another friend brought out actual make-up from her home (to redo their faces in order to redo some scenes from the movie.) Which basically means that their parents will hate me forever, because along with their children, they also picked up zombies and mutants and ghosts from the party.

But, it was absolutely priceless to watch 8 & 9 year-olds imagine, develop, and direct their own "movie,"
and I saw texts between them saying, "I am having soooooo much fun." And, despite the zombies, and fake blood, we all survived.