As a mom of three boys, I have hosted many sleepovers. We have done sleepovers for a birthday party with lots of kids, and we have hosted sleepovers for just one or two kids just for fun. The kids love sleepovers and the goal is to have as much fun as possible. I’m sharing several tips I’ve learned through hosting many sleepovers about How To Host a Fun and Successful Kids Sleepover.
This How To Host a Sleepover guide is meant for kids of ages 6-14.
The post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclaimer in the top bar menu for more details Thank you!
Set Up Enough Beds For All the Kids to Sleep on Comfortably
I find it is important to have enough spots for kids to sleep comfortably. If kids sleep well, they will be happier and will be less likely to be crabby for their parents the next day. We are a family who camps so we have five air mattresses for use at sleepovers. I like to blow up all the air mattresses prior to the start of the party/sleepover. This way I can focus on the kids at the sleepover. It’s best to stack the blown up air mattresses in another room so the kids don’t play and jump on them because rough play can put a hole in them. I know this because my boys have had friends over and done this!
Air mattresses are pretty cheap. I purchased ours from Walmart for about $9.00 apiece or Amazon sells them too at reasonable prices. There are more expensive mattresses, but I’ve found no matter how much they cost, they all get hole at some point so I’d rather replace them with cheaper ones. I add a fitted sheet to the air mattress to protect it, but this isn’t necessary.
This is one type of air mattress we use that we have been happy with owning.
We utilize couches or mattresses from beds as well to have a sufficient number of beds for all the kids.
Ensure You will Have Enough Bedding or Have Kids Bring Their Own
If you don’t have enough pillows and blankets for the number of kids coming, make sure you include in the invite to bring their own blankets or sleeping bags and pillows along. Many kids sleep better on their own pillows with their own blankets.
Have Enough Food and Fun Snacks on Hand
These kids play hard and they get hungry! I like to ask my kids for their favorites to have on hand for sleepovers if it’s a planned sleepover. Sometimes sleepovers happen last minute so this isn’t possible, but it adds to the fun if you can fulfill their requests for snack favorites.
Favorites at my house include:
- fruit strips or fruit leather
- granola bars
- ice cream
- Muddy Buddies Chex Recipe or puppy chow (Chex™ recipe)
- Nutella™ with marshmallow creme on graham crackers (anytime smores!)
- Seasoned Oyster crackers, a recipe from a family friend my mom used to make when I was a kid (and I still love it today;)
Seasoned Oyster Crackers Recipe:
- 1 tsp. dill weed
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch™ dry dressing seasoning mix
- 1 c. vegetable
- Mix all together in a bowl.
- Pour over 12 ounces oyster crackers. Let stand overnight prior to serving for the best flavor.
Related Post: Try my Gummy Worms Jello Recipe or my
Dinners at Sleepovers
For dinners at sleepovers, I always turn to pizza. I choose pizza because it is the easiest dinner to make for a crowd of kids, plus most kids like pizza. I usually stick with cheese and pepperoni because I find most kids like these types of pizza. My favorite is either take-and-bake pizzas or Dominos ($5.99 deal for 2 or more mediums) because these are the most economical for feeding lots of kids. Plus, they are the least amount of work which is important for the sleepover host (i.e. like me;)
Breakfasts at Sleepovers
For breakfast, I often make pancakes, buy donuts, or muffins (or make some homemade the day before). These are the easiest and fastest ways to get a breakfast for a group of kids. Often they will unexpectedly come up and want to eat and if I have some donut or muffins already prepared, they are easy to plop on the table. I always put out fruit too, but the kids don’t always choose fruit, but at least it is offered. I always have some juice on the table too.
Drinks at Sleepovers
Gatorade™ bottles or gatorade powder for making Gatorade in a quart or 1 gallon container (cheapest route) are always popular with kids at my house. Soda pop is also popular choice with kids if parents are ok with kids having pop. I try to avoid caffeine containing soda pops to prevent sleep disruptions. Pop at a sleepover is a special treat many kids enjoy. Buy some plastic cups and let the kids make pop mixers where they create their own concocotions using 4-5 different types of pop from 2 liters bottle (if they are old enough to pour). I either write the kids’ names on the cups with a sharpie, or let them do it on their own.
Buy a snow cone machine to use at parties. We bought one for my son’s birthday a few years back instead of renting one and we’ve gotten so much use out of it. We have loved making snow cones in a Root Beer Float Snow Cone Bar or using the premade syrups, koolaid, or juice to flavor the snow cones.
Make a Fort for the Kids to Sleep in
Kids love making forts. It makes a giant mess, but they have so much fun with it. They get to be creative and have a blast making the fort and playing in it.
Sleeping in it is even more fun! Let the kids fill up the living room with a fort to sleep in. Slide the air mattresses into the fort and let them set up their own beds. We have a little camping lamp our kids can set inside the fort. They can play games in the fort, watch DVDs on a portable DVD player, or play with iPads/toys in the fort. I hang a white board on the outside entrance of the fort and they can label their fort with a name.
Have Games Available
If the kids can read, the Apples to Apples game brings tons of fun and laughter for the kids. (This is a family favorite of ours too!) Amazon affiliate link.
Uno dare is another favorite one for my boys. Play is the same as for usual Uno game plus several dares are included as part of the game. This is super fun and results in lots of laughter from the kids as they do the dares.
Make Your Own Homemade Putty or Slime, or a Craft
Making slime is super popular with kids right now. My son likes to make up his own slime using ingredients like clear glue, corn starch, food coloring, water, borax, liquid starch, clay, poster putty, saline solution, or pieces of different items to make chunky slime (such as small rubber bands or styrofoam chunks). Find a fun slime recipe on Pinterest or online, or let them make up their own recipes. Just be prepared for mess if they make slime:) I find letting the kids make it outside, on the deck, or in the garage makes the cleanup eaiser.
Kids love to paint too, at least younger kids do (maybe not the tweens or teens though). I have bought inexpensive cardboard or wood figures at the craft store for kids to paint plus some washable paint. Or simply give them paper and tell them to paint a picture of each other. Lay an old sheet down on the kitchen floor and let them paint.
Have Your WIFI Password Ready
Keep your WIFI password handy because the kids will all be bringing their iPads, iPods, phones, and tablets (if they have one). They will all ask for the password so they can play on their electronics. I know there are several games they can all be playing at the same time together so even though they are looking at a screen, they are still interacting and talking with each other as they play.
Boys tend to bond well over video games so I allow them to play at sleepovers.
Play the Xbox or Playstation
Again, kids bond well while playing video games and they love playing together so this is a fun sleepover activity. We have several games where four or more kids can play at once (new to Minecraft where kids can play on the iPad or a phone too). Kids often have a tournament or simply take turns.
Have them Play Outside at the Sleepover
Outside play time is always great for the kids to get energy out, and this one applies to the younger kids, tweens, and young teens. Encourage outside play such as basketball, soccer, tag, hide and seek, ghost in the graveyard, freeze tag, tv tag, football, or bocce ball. There are so many outdoor games that kids would enjoy. I have included a few we have enjoyed below.
Have the kids make an obstacle course out of chalk on the driveway and have them take turns doing the course. This activity would appeal to the younger kids more in my experience. My younger son often likes to make a chalk layout of a Mario game and then manually walk/jump/hop his way through the course. I love his crossover of the video game into real life because he mixes it with his own creative thoughts and exercise.
If the sleepover is in the winter and you live in an area that gets snow, have the kids bring warm clothing for outdoors. I suggest having the kids each bring a sled if there is a hill nearby to sled down. They just love to play in the snow with or without fancy toys! Making a snow fort can be extremely fun, just hand them a few shovels and let them go at it. Be prepared to have spots to lay out all the wet clothes!
Watch a Movie
At sleepovers, I always let the kids watch a movie to wind down before bed. This also allows time for some kids to simply fall asleep during the movie if they are very sleepy. For younger kids, I tell them to brush their teeth, use the bathroom, and get pj’s on before the movie starts so if they fall asleep, they are ready for bed. The older kids do their own thing so I allow them to determine their own plan.
Tweens and Teens and Sleepovers
For tweens and teens during sleepovers, give them their space and alone time to hang out. We make sure they are safe and don’t get into things they shouldn’t (or do things they shouldn’t). But, for the most part we leave them alone to do their own things. This is what they want anyway, so feed them, be present in case you are needed, don’t hover, but be sure to give them time and space to simply hang out together. Movies and games are important to them as well, but they are pretty self-sufficient in figuring that out for themselves.
Checklist for at Dropoff
Here are some tips for things to remember to talk with parents about at dropoff:
- I always check with parents at the dropoff prior to sleepover for what movie ratings they are ok with their kids watching. This way when it comes time to choose a movie, it is easier to pick one.
- Ask for parent phone numbers in case you need text them…it’s nice to have all the numbers for the parents to text them if needed for emergencies or if their child needs to go home in the middle of the night.
- Ask parents if their kids have any allergies or medical concerns.
- Set a pick up time for the morning.
Have fun, take lots of pictures, and enjoy being able to do something fun for you kids they will remember for their lifetimes!
I hope you found this post useful. Pin it for later to revisit these ideas as you plan your next sleepover:)
Free Packing List
Printable Packing List to make packing for your family easier which will reduce your pre-travel stress:) Have a wonderful trip!