Planning a sleepover birthday party, but looking for ways to make it more “wow”? Whether it’s a couple of close friends or a group of 10, make your child’s sleepover party unforgettable with these easy, fun and extra-special ideas.

Tips for First-Timers

Whether you’re hosting, or sending your child off to their first sleepover, consider these tips.

Check Readiness. If you discuss a sleepover, see how your child reacts. Is she excited? Or, is she nervous? A child who is ready to spend a night without you will be interested in the idea.

Start Small. Don’t go for a slumber party too fast! Try hosting one friend for a sleepover so your child gets comfortable with the idea. Or, keep it in the neighborhood so your child knows you’re nearby if he wants to come home.

Stay Informed. If you’re hosting, share details on your home, activities and what guests need to bring (sleeping bags, pillows, etc.). Ask if anyone has allergies or needs medication. Make sure you have contact information for parents. If your child is sleeping away, ask the host parents questions so that your child won’t be taken by surprise. Will older siblings be home? Will the kids be sleeping on the floor or in beds?

Pack and Prepare. If sleeping away, help your child pack an overnight bag with the essentials, including a special stuffed animal or blanket for nighttime. Make sure your child knows how to reach you and let the host parents know if your child has any specific fears or needs.

Plan for Fun. When you’re hosting, have plans ready if self-directed supervised play seems to get stale. Remember, a sleepover is much longer than a playdate! Have the kids DIY dinner (think make-your-own pizzas or taco bar), an art project to do, or a new game the kids can learn together. When you’re ready for everyone to settle down and get sleepy, dim the lights and start an age-appropriate movie.

Be on Call. You spoke to your child at 10 p.m. and all seemed fine, but at midnight, he wants to come home. It happens, especially to first-timers! It’s no big deal if the first try doesn’t last the whole night, and it’s important that your child knows you’ll come get him if he needs you. At your home, make sure young guests know they can wake you during the night if they have an emergency or need to call their parents.

Recap the Night. Whether your child makes it through a first full sleepover or not, check in with them the next day. Talk about what they liked and what they didn’t, so you know what could work better next time, at home or away. Your child will be your guide to whether sleepovers are a good addition to their social lives, now or later.

Get Out and About

Just because it’s a sleepover doesn’t mean you have to spend the whole time at home. Keep them busy by heading to a fun venue.

Destination: Sleepover

Want to take getting out and about to the next level? Try a destination sleepover. Sleep under the sea at a Georgia Aquarium birthday party. For older kids, you could opt for somewhere further out of town like Great Wolf Lodge, Callaway Gardens or a cabin in North Georgia.

Have a Sleep “Under”

When your child (or you!) isn’t quite ready for the full sleepover experience, a sleep “under” is a great option. It has all the fun without actually spending the night.

  • Plan your event for early evening. Your event could include dinner or a fun snack.
  • Ask guests to wear their pajamas and bring sleeping bags, pillows and a favorite stuffed animal.
  • Plan several fun activities — a kid-friendly movie, games or a make-your own-sundae bar.
  • At the end of the evening, send guests home to spend the night in their own beds.

6 Ways to Make a Sleepover Party Special

Go Glamping

Enjoy all the fun of camping, in the comfort of your home. Go simple, with lots of sleeping bags and pillows, or elaborate, with air mattresses and indoor teepees.

  • Make mini teepees — purchase frames online at or and dress them up with colorful fabric, mini lights, paper flowers, cozy blankets and fun pillows.
  • Go all out and let someone else do the work. Southern Charm Sleepovers will set up a themed indoor teepee party, or an outdoor bubble tent for a sleepover under the stars. Enchanting Teepees has an array of girl- and boy-friendly themes, including Barbie, mermaid, outer space and woodland animals.
  • Set up a hot chocolate bar with marshmallows, sprinkles, whipped cream and flavored syrups, served up in oversized mugs.
  • Put on the music and stage a glow dance party, karaoke sing-along or a talent show.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Whether the kids sleep outside or just enjoy some camping-style fun before heading back inside, make your outdoor venue as rustic or as fancy as you want!

  • Plan a nature-themed scavenger hunt or make leaf rubbings.
  • Play camping-themed bingo (find printable cards at Set up giant Jenga and other backyard games, play flashlight tag or charades using camping-themed ideas — think “act like a bear” or “catch fireflies.”
  • Serve up grilled hot dogs and burgers or make “silver turtles” cooked in the campfire. Set up a nacho bar or DIY trail mix. Have DIY s’mores ready to go by packaging graham crackers, marshmallows and a square of chocolate in individual bags.
  • Create ambience with battery-operated lanterns, strings of lights and a real or pretend campfire.
  • Pitch store-bought tents or make your own by stringing clothesline between trees and draping it with a sheet. Use rocks or weights to anchor the corners. Build teepees with poles, clothespins and a sheet (find instructions on

Have a Spa Session

Make the girls feel special with an evening of pampering, from head to toe.

  • Sheet face masks are easy (and less messy) to apply and remove for an at-home facial; look for kid-friendly versions with fruity scents and fun colors.
  • Buy nail polish in a variety of fun colors, along with decals and adhesive gems. Cover a table with paper for easy cleanup; you could even enlist an older sibling to help paint nails.
  • Provide plush robes, slippers and sleep masks for guests to wear at the party.
  • Serve up delicacies like mini tea sandwiches, fresh fruit, petit fours and sparkling punch.
  • Splurge on a glam at-home spa party by SpaPartyz or a mobile spa truck from Pamper Me Pretty.

Make it a Movie Night

Whether you go with classic cartoons, an ‘80s throwback classic or a popular current release, a movie night party has appeal for all ages.

  • Rent, buy or borrow a home projector and screen. Set up the ultimate backyard viewing area with blankets and pillows for lounging. During the summer, look for an outdoor movie showing at your local park. Many have food trucks on-site, or you can pack your own treats.
  • Indoors, set up oversized pillows, bean bag chairs and cushions so everyone has a cozy spot.
  • Set up a popcorn bar with bags of popcorn and caramel corn in fun paper cups or bags, along with mix-ins like chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and shake-on flavorings. And no movie is complete without Twizzlers, M&Ms, Nerds and Milk Duds!

Bring on the Games

Plan a game-themed party for kids; be sure to choose age appropriate activities that everyone can participate in and that your child and guests really love.

  • For gaming enthusiasts, bring in a game truck — try Virtual Reality Game Truck or Gamer vs. Gamer.
  • Stage a backyard Nerf war with obstacles, targets and plenty of foam ammunition.
  • Work together to solve a mystery with an “Unsolved Case Files” game, or crack a code to escape in “Clue: Treachery at Tudor Mansion” (find both on
  • Let the screens rule and play a few rounds of Heads Up, 7 Second Challenge or Psych.
  • Get creative and develop an escape room at home using clues about the birthday child.

Keep the Fun Going!

No matter your sleepover theme, use these ideas to prevent any “I’m bored!” moments.

  • Balloon Pop: Write activities on small pieces of paper, like “watch a movie,” “eat cake,” “play charades,” “create and act out a silly skit” — and place each inside a balloon. Inflate the balloon and write a time on it with permanent marker. At the appointed hour, the birthday boy or girl pops the balloon to reveal the activity.
  • Photo Booth: Capture the moments! Set up a photo booth area with fun props and accessories. An instant-print cameral makes this one extra fun.
  • Games: Be ready with some fun group games to play, like Pictionary, bingo, flashlight tag or “name that tune.”
  • Be Creative: Plan a craft that matches your party’s theme — tie-dye T-shirts, make beaded bracelets, paint canvases, decorate cookies.
  • Midnight Breakfast: Set up a waffle bar with syrup, whipped cream, fruit, chocolate chips and cinnamon sugar.

— Dalia Faupel contributed to this article.

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