1. Parenting

How to Plan A Fun Tween Sleepover Party

The secrets to a successful sleepover party

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A sleepover party is a great way for a tween to celebrate a birthday, or kick-off the weekend. But there are secrets to sleepover party success. For starters, you'll need to provide yummy food. But that's not all. The tips below will help you and your tween plan for and execute a successful sleepover party. Your tween may even learn a few skills in the process.

Put Your Tween in Charge

A great sleepover party requires a little pre-planning.
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If your tween is getting ready to celebrate a birthday, and she doesn't want to celebrate at another location, a sleepover party could be the best bet. When it comes to planning a slumber party, your tween is old enough to take charge, with your input. Your child can make a guest list, create invitations, choose a theme, plan a menu, and even work out details such as sleeping arrangements and games to play. Your child may also know important information that you don't, such as guests' food allergies or social dynamics between friends.

Limit Your Guests

While it would be gracious to include all of your child's friends, it's not always practical to flood your home with a dozen tweens. Limit the number of children your child invites to eight. Keep in mind that many children feel overwhelmed in large groups, and may be more comfortable in a smaller setting. If your tween is a girl, you may want to aim for an even number of kids, as girls typically pair off, and you don't want anyone left out.

Pass on Co-Ed Parties

Co-ed parties are all the rage with teens, and your child may think she's ready to host one. In general, co-ed sleepover parties aren't a great idea for the tween age group. You'll have to police constantly, and supply separate bathrooms and sleeping quarters for the girls and the boys. In addition, many tweens and many parents find co-ed sleepovers an uncomfortable social setting.

Gather Contact Information

A successful sleepover party requires a backup plan, in case anything goes wrong. Make sure you have contact information for every child at your home, and ask if the parents have any special concerns or rules concerning their children.

Schedule Activities for the Sleepover Party

It's a good idea to break up the evening with a few scheduled activities such as movies, games, make-your-own sundaes, crafts, etc. for the sleepover party. It's also important that the children direct some of the activities themselves, and that they have time to do what tweens desire most: hang out together. Plan for a few activities, but be flexible enough to drop them if the tweens are happily engaged with one another and are having fun.

Set the Ground Rules

It's important that your tween and her guests know the rules of the house. Go over any rules you may have with your tween before the sleepover party, and then again with the group as a whole. The children need to know which rooms they are allowed in, and which ones they are not. They also need to know what television shows they may and may not watch, whether or not they must ask permission before popping popcorn or making other snacks, and if they are allowed outside, and if so, where they may go. Be specific about your rules, and enforce them. You can limit snoopy tween behavior by offering a tour of your home when the guests arrive. Also, take the time to introduce any other family members that reside in the home to your tween's guests.

Help Your Tween be a Good Host

It's important that your tween understand that he or she will be hosting the sleepover party, and that means making sure guests are comfortable and having fun. If a child is being left out, help your child find ways to include her in activities. Your child can also make sure that everyone has an equal amount of time to play with the Wii or in other activities that require sharing. This is a great opportunity for your son or daughter to develop social skills and leadership skills.

Police Regularly but Don't Hover

Check-in from time to time to make sure everything is going smoothly. Be on the lookout for children who are ganging up on others, or for children who might be homesick. If a child does come down with homesickness, quickly offer up an activity or another diversion. If you think it's necessary, call the child's parent without his knowing to ask for advice on how to handle the situation. Some children may suffer from homesickness for a short period, then move on and have fun the rest of the night. If a child is truly miserable, it may be necessary for his parents to bring him home. It's important to police, but resist the temptation to hover. Tweens need time alone, and that's really the whole point of a sleepover party, anyway.

Keep Supplies on Hand

Make sure you have extra toothpaste and toothbrushes on hand, in case someone forgets to bring theirs to the sleepover party. Extra sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows are also a must.

Keep Siblings Busy

If your tween has older or younger siblings that may interfere, make plans for them in order to limit confrontations. Siblings may invite a friend of their own over for the night, go to the movies with your partner or a grandparent, or take part in a special activity with you.
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