A slumber birthday party can be loads of fun for everyone, but it can also be full of pitfalls for the unprepared. In addition to combating the sometimes-difficult nature of tween girls, you need to be ready to deal with homesickness, arguments and illness. Following a few simple tips can help prepare you to navigate the treacherous territory of slumber party planning.
Any overnight tween gathering has the potential to get out of hand, so set limits on everything early on. Keep the number of guests under 10. Tell parents exactly when to drop off the kids and instruct them to return no later than noon the next day. As soon as all the guests are present, put up a list of hard-and-fast rules, such as no prank calls, no sneaking out and no bullying. Give one warning. If the behavior persists, call the parents. Talk to the birthday girl before the party about being a good hostess, including everyone in activities and being gracious no matter what gifts she receives.
Sort the Basics
Check that every child arrives with a list of her allergies, prescription medications, nocturnal habits and parents' emergency contact information. Invite guests whom you already know at least a little -- one trouble maker can ruin the party for everyone. As each guest arrives, lead her to the sleeping bag area, issue her a towel and washcloth, show her the bathroom and reassure her that she can call her parents or talk to you at any time about anything. Set up the birthday cake, refreshments, decorations and gift table before the party begins.
Keep Guests Occupied
Half the fun of a slumber birthday party is giggling and gossiping, but guests who get bored with just chatting can cause a world of trouble. Don't create an itinerary, but be ready with a variety of entertainment options to prevent bad behavior. If TV palls, get out the board games. Let them play with your makeup or go into the backyard to play games. If the weather is good and your backyard is enclosed, offer guests the option of sleeping outside. Have the ingredients for baking cookies on hand in case the girls want to try cooking.
Stay in Charge
Don't try to appease every guest when it comes to sleeping arrangements. To avoid any fussing about sleeping bag location, arrange all the bags so that the tops form a circle and guests' heads are in the middle. Be open to suggestions for unplanned activities, but don't be afraid to say "no" if you feel uncomfortable. Institute a dim-the-lights time for when the girls should begin settling down. Half an hour later, tell them it's time to go to sleep. Check on them periodically until everyone is asleep. In the morning, serve a light breakfast and help each guest pack her things. Have guests watch a movie or play a game while waiting for parents.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images