Your little girl is growing up: she’s lost the toddler pudginess, ties her own shoes, knows the multiplication tables, and—wants to have a sleepover? Sleepovers are a rite of passage, and they’re not as intimidating as they may seem. The key to success is all in the planning.
First, decide upon an appropriate number of guests. Odd numbers may promote exclusion of one guest, while a large number makes it easier for girls to pair off and create chaos. Four to six girls, including the hostess, is a great starting point.
Once you’ve finalized the guest list, set a date. Perform a little due diligence and make sure there aren’t any conflicting events, like other parties or school dances. There is nothing as traumatic as competing sleepovers coinciding on the same date.
Next, set some ground rules with your daughter. Be clear that sleepovers are a privilege and a sign of responsibility. Discuss house rules and how they will be enforced. Let her know what rooms of the house are off limits. Find ways to occupy extra siblings, if possible.
Before the girls arrive, make sure that you’ve gotten in touch with their parent(s). Ask if their child has any food allergies, has to take any medication, or has any other issues that may be relevant. Get their cell phones numbers so that you can call in the event of an emergency. Having all of this information organized and on hand before the sleepover starts makes it easier to plan food choices or even move the family pets to another part of the house.
Don’t micromanage the party, but have some activities available (e.g., manicures, pedicures, games, videos, crafts, snacks, etc.). The goal is to have everything available for their use so the girls can take care of things themselves. Interfere only if necessary. Keep things as simple as possible: order pizza with a make-your-own salad bar for supper, offer three or four snack options, and serve mixed fruit or cereal for breakfast.
Finally, be sure you go to bed. You are not an invited member of the sleepover and are therefore not obligated to stay up all night. Announce when you are going to bed, ask the girls to keep the noise level down, and sleep well, knowing that you’re allowing your daughter to make precious memories with her friends.