How to plan a fun children's sleepover

We're now just three and a bit weeks away from the school easter holidays and the time of year when parents have to be at their most vigilant. Keeping a close eye on the number of chocolate eggs stored on the highest shelf in the kitchen and looking for any rogue wrappers concealed in bins can be a full time job. We all know that those eggs have a tendency to develop legs and make a speedy dash to sweet-toothed children's bedrooms when grown ups' backs are turned.

If you're looking for a way to take their mind off the chocolate and encourage your kids to have fun with their friends instead, how about planning a sleepover? We know, we know, sleep is sometimes the last thing that happens at sleepovers, but children love them. And better during the holidays when there's plenty of time to nap the next day (or two) rather then heading back to school exhausted.

How to plan a fun children's sleepover

Of course, you don't need to be overly elaborate in your sleepover planning. A comfy bed and a midnight (8pm) feast is often enough of a treat. But if you fancy making it just that little bit more special, here are our hints and tips for planning the ultimate children's sleepover.

THE INVITATIONS

Sure, you can send a text, an email, or simply mention the sleepover in person. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with any of those options. But if you have a colour printer and few minutes to spare, Canva has the most amazing templates that are free to customise and print off. Simply search for 'sleepover invitation' in the templates sections and you'll find really cool ones like these two and many more.

How to plan a fun sleepover

THE GAMES

Depending on the age of the children, they might not need you to organise any games or activities for them but it's always helpful to have one or two ideas to fall back on. If you have a play shop or market stall, you could transform it in a sleep emporium selling all things for a fun night in and a good night's sleep - hot chocolates, teddy bears, eye masks, night lights (or torches), and story books, for example.

How to plan a fun children's sleepover

Later on, a quiet craft could be a nice way of calming things down and getting the children in to a sleepier state. And what could be more perfect for a sleepover than making dream catchers to ward off bad dreams? Buy individual pieces from a craft shop or pick up easy-to-make kits. It's something nice for the children to take home the next day, too.

THE SNACKS

No sleepover is complete without snacks but no parent wants to hand over bowls of sugar to a group of children within an hour or two of bedtime. Middle ground is a must - a treat that they love but with limited sugar. That tends to leave one favourite ... popcorn!

Instead of picking up packets, try popping your own kernels. They're available in most supermarkets and at a fraction of the price of a pre-popped bag. You can then add your own toppings. Perhaps a little bit of melted butter or a small sprinkling of icing sugar or cinnamon. For extra fun, serve the popcorn in individual party boxes.

THE FILMS

When the noise levels reach a maximum, a film is a great way of quietening things down. We love this list of 'best sleepover movies'. It has so many suggestions along with a handy age rating so you can choose something that's appropriate for the youngest guests. It's nice to see some classics like E.T. and The Princess Bride included as they increase your chances of showing a film that the children potentially haven't seen before.

THE BEDS

When it comes to beds or places for the children to sleep, GLTC has got you covered. First up, how about a bed-in-a-bagYou simply need to roll out this cosy mattress and hey presto, you have a comfy spare bed. It comes with a zipped storage bag so is super easy to store, too. The cover is made from 100% cotton and the padded sections are polyester filled so there's no inflation required.

How to plan a fun children's sleepover

Or, GLTC's gorgeous sleeping bags could be an option. They're made from cool, natural cotton and are long enough for teenagers and grown ups to use, too. The integral handles make them easy to roll up, carry and store away, and the cover and lining are made from 100% cotton, with insulating, polyester wadding.

There's also a chair that converts into a sleepover bed. All you need to do is unzip and remove the cover, fold out the mattress and there it is, a cosy bed. And it's just as easy to turn it back into a usable chair, with no need to store or hide it away.

THE LIGHTS

Don't forget that you'll have children in your home that aren't necessarily familiar with the layout. This is fine during the day but can be a little scary in the dead of night if they need to find the bathroom.

An easy-to-access lamp could be the answer, or night lights placed in the hallway. Or, give every child an overnight pack with a small drink and a torch. Make the dark seem like an adventure rather than something that they should be worried about.

THE NEXT DAY

While it's easy to be relaxed and carefree about what time the children should be collected the next morning, the reality is that they're going to be super tired. Breakfast, cartoons and perhaps an hour to play in the garden if the weather permits, and then they'll be ready to head home and snooze the day away. A 10am pick up seems like a good time to us.

Feeling ready to arrange a sleepover? Good luck! And do let us know if you have any tips of your own to share.


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