April 1, 2016

Create a fun, comfortable sleepover for guests with these tips and ground rules.


Sleepovers have always been a popular kind of playdate for kids.  I am a mom of a 14-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy, and my family has hosted many sleepovers.

However, for parents it’s not always as easy as throwing sleeping bags in the living room and turning on a movie. Sleepovers can be intimidating and feared not only by the parents hosting but also sometimes by the kids who attend. Below are ideas to help make sleepovers a positive experience.

How many people to invite?

Decide if this is one friend sleeping over or multiple friends. Questions to ask: Can your child entertain multiple guests over an extended amount of time? Have you hosted those invited to your home for a playdate? If you invite multiple children, can they all get along in a group?

When to have your sleepover?

Select a date that works for your family. Make sure you do not have early-morning sporting events, church, dance class or anything else that starts early because children will be tired after a long night of fun. Give yourself and your child a day to recover post-sleepover so everyone starts the week rested.

What should you plan for the sleepover?

Lots of food

The secret of any sleepover is the provisions. Stock the kitchen with all types of food. Make sure there is an assortment of snacks. Get creative and come up with a food theme. One example: “Under the Sea,” using Goldfish, Swedish Fish and doughnuts in the shapes of stars to look like starfish.  Make sure food items are easy to clean up!

The opening act

Start the sleeping over with a fun group activity. Maybe it’s kickball outside, a craft or making pizzas.

Keeping the kids busy

To make the night run smoothly, develop a plan for activities. Have your child help create a fun plan like:

  • Movie Night: Select age-appropriate movies and have kids vote on what to watch. Set up a viewing area with blankets and pillows. Pop popcorn and place in individual bowls, and serve theater-style candy.
  • Camp-in: Kids love setting up a tent in the house and pretending to be on a camping trip. Use flashlights and make s’mores.
  • Beauty Makeovers: Girls love to do mani-pedis and put on loads of makeup. Take before and after pictures for the girls to take home.
  • Sports sleepover: Have your boys wear their favorite sports jerseys. They can divide into mini teams and play games of basketball or football. If the weather is bad, do a sleeping bag “sack” race.

Final sleepover tips to make the sleepover run smoothly:

  • Create start and end times.
  • Set a bedtime.
  • Show the children how to find you.
  • Check in regularly to make sure nobody is being teased and that arguments are not occurring.
  • Take phones up before the sleepover begins. Social media is everywhere. Kids should unplug and enjoy each other. And NO POSTING PHOTOS ON SOCIAL MEDIA as someone’s feelings are sure to get hurt.
  • Make sure everyone knows the “ground rules” you have in place (for example, no leaving the house without asking).
  • When considering if your child is ready to sleep at a friend’s home, consider if he or she has slept out of the house before (could include grandparents’ house) and how that went.

Remember this is FUN and your mission will be successful if you plan well.


This post written by Shawn Haile. Shawn lives in Nashville and is a wife and mom of two. Shawn had a career in the PR/Marketing field before becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom.  Shawn enjoys her family and volunteering for a variety of organizations ranging from her children’s schools to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.