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Tips for throwing a children's slumber party

Wondering how to amuse a bunch of kids all night? “Today” contributor Stephanie Oppenheim shares some sleepover strategies.
/ Source: TODAY

Many parents dread the night when it's their turn to host a sleepover. So how do you keep 10 kids entertained without destroying your house and breaking the bank? “Today” contributor Stephanie Oppenheim offers a few slumber party solutions.

GamesWith a group of kids it's always better to focus on cooperative or group play so that no child ends up being singled out. Try these:

  • Scavenger Hunt for Kids Game (Pazow, $6.98; 8 & up): You can make up your own hunt with your child ahead of time if you'd like. But if you've had a long work week, this game has done the work for you. Make teams and send them on their way.
  • Who What Where Jr. (Pazow, $19.99; 8 & up): For kids who enjoy drawing, this is a fun game that has now been done in a junior version. You are given a who, what, and where card, which you are then asked to draw. You get points if people guess the right answer based on your drawing.
  • Speed Stacks (Jakks Pacific, $38; 5 & up): This is a game that has caught on in gym classes in middle schools and high schools across the country as a great way to build hand/eye coordination. You can buy the cups online, but it will also be sold later this year by Jakks Pacific. The idea is to stack and unstack the cups in the shortest amount of time. It might look easy, but it takes some practice! Fun and active, and great for the age that usually just wants to plug into their video games. www.

Crafts for boys
Cast & Paint: Krazy Kars with Blo-Pens (Skullduggery, $14.95; 5 & up): It's often difficult to find an interesting and engaging craft for boys. These are fun to do. It takes about 30 minutes for the Matchbox-sized cars to set. Then the kids can decorate them with their favorite Nascar racer's logos and it's off to the races!

Slumber party for girls
Create an Asian-themed party with these products:

  • Paint a Paper Lantern (Alex, $9.99 each; 8 & up): Kids can decorate their own with Japanese brushes and paint (included).
  • Awesome Origami (Creativity for Kids, $14.95; 8 & up)
  • Wrist Pix bracelet kit (Fashion Angels, $16; 10 & up)
  • Nature Walk Bead Kit (The Bead Bazaar, $19.95; 8 & up)
  • Send them home with little Chinese take out containers that the girls decorate.

The other slumber-party treat kids love is a good movie. Show them the original “King Kong,” so they can see the special effects of the 1930s. Also new to DVD this season are “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and “Chronicles of Narnia.” My personal favorite, “The Princess Bride,” appeals to both boys and girls and should always be available!

For many kids sleepovers are great fun and part of their social life. Being away from home, even if it's only down the block is a big step. Sometimes hosting a sleepover is a good first step in the process. Seeing how other kids make the transition can often be useful. Some kids will not be ready at the same time as their peers — and that's OK too! Trust your instincts and your child's.

Some more sleepover tips:

  • Selecting activities for such parties can be tricky. If you have older kids and there are video games in your house, the reality is that they will probably eat and plug in. The choices given above may entice even the most avid gamers.
  • Hands down our tween girl testers say that their favorite activities are “spa” treatments — manicures and pedicures top the list. Bring home some fun colors for this activity and pair them with some of the bead kits on our list for a full spa/jewelry night.
  • Movies also rated high on the list for both boys and girls.
  • In order to maintain harmony, try to keep the numbers down so that you don't end up with a child that is singled out as the “it” kid.
  • Having some structured activity also helps move the evening along.
  • If you're bringing home a craft kit, make sure everyone has the same materials, to avoid jealousy over the “best” pieces.
  • Games are also a good choice for groups.
  • If you're so inclined you can also create a themed party, such as the Asian-themed party.