Make a Plan
Talk to your kids about what they want to do, what their friends might enjoy, and what youre trying to accomplish. Do the kids want uninterrupted hang-out time or do they need more structured activities? Do you know the personalities of the guests involved and can you predict any situations that might occur? Are there rooms in the house that are off-limits to the party guests? What will happen if guests cant agree on an activity?
Movie and TV choices need to be communicated to parents ahead of time as parents can have very different ideas of what is appropriate. Overplan the activities so you have some backups just in case things dont go as planned. In some cases, Ive created a codeword with my child before the party so she can easily let me know if an issue pops up during the event then I know to come in and change things up a bit without stepping on her toes.
Communicate with Parents and Guests
When I send out a slumber party invite, I let the parents know as much as possible what will be happening, including activities, food, bedtime, movie choices, etc. The guests arrive prepared, parents of kids with allergies can let me know of any issues, and parents can sense how the event will work with their plans the next day.
For younger parties, I sleep in the same room with the party guests just in case anyone gets up in the middle of the night (and I let parents and guests know that up front). For older parties, I stay with the kids while they are falling asleep (the kids are free to wake up early if they want to do something together, but they need to go to sleep at night). In my experience, most of the social drama and trauma occurs very late at night, and can be avoided with a little sleep!
Keep It Simple
Sometimes the best activities are also the most simple; activities that allow kids to connect and enjoy each others company. Roll out butcher paper on the kitchen table and scatter a bunch of interesting art supplies. This activity gives kids something to do when they first arrive, and can create a fun momento of the event for the host to keep. Baking cookies or ShrinkyDinks can be an entertaining and relaxing way for kids to enjoy themselves, as long as youre ok with a bit of mess. In the summer, have kids splatter paint a big sheet in the backyard. Create a station with face paint, beading kits, hair chalk or friendship bracelets.
Check the Phones at the Door
The first thing I do when guests arrive is ask them to put their phones on our kitchen counter. They are free to use their phones to contact their parents if they like, but I ask them to not post anything on social media websites. Sometimes social media can get in the way of enjoying each others company, plus pictures and communications sent out in real time hurt the feelings of those who werent invited. I let parents know this as well, and most also have similar plans in place at their events. This allows the guests to do what they came for: connect with each other, get silly, some fun, and make great memories!
kiddywampus, an inspired place for kids, is a destination for children in the Twin Cities. kiddywampus provides a wide range of quirky, unique toys for kids of all ages. The shop hosts classes, camps and birthday parties for kids in the Jackson Pollock-inspired art studio.
Amy Saldanha is an attorney and mother to three kids, ages 14, 11 and 8. kiddywampus is the toy shop Saldanha always wanted for her kids. She has hosted (and survived) many slumber parties and sleepovers.