Ultimate Kids' Sleepover Activities to Keep Them Busy (Before Bedtime)

Published October 28, 2021
girls having fun at sleepover party

There is very little more exciting for kids than a sleepover with cousins or friends. With so much time for togetherness, parents need to be sure to pack sleepovers with plenty of activities to keep kids busy before lights out.

Create the Perfect Sleepover Set Up

To start the overnight party off right, you'll need to set the scene. Consider the theme of your party, the budget, and the ages of your slumber party guests.

Go Glamping

glamping tent in yard for sleepover party

Older kids don't have to stay inside for their sleepover experience. You can head into the backyard for a tent sleepover, or take tent camping to the next level and go for a glamping experience. Glamping is essentially glamorous camping. Think strung up fairy lights in trees, lots of pretty throw blankets and pillows, and plenty of pretty tent decor. You can also set up an open-air tent next to the sleeping tent for all of your sleepover campers' eating needs.

Create a Living Room Camping Theme

If you have kids not quite at an age where sleeping outside of your four walls is appropriate, bring the camping experience indoors. Set up pre-purchased small sleepover tents for each child, or create your own.

Along with the personalized tents, include something special like personal slippers, a small pillow, or a blanket to include in each space.

Create Light to Ward Off the Spookies

Even the most perfect sleepover party can go sideways when kids become frightened in the night. If you are hosting a sleepover for young kids who might not have much experience snoozing away from home, create a serene and cozy setting to aid in their comfort levels. Hang twinkling lights around the area where everyone will be sleeping, or use a light projector to create dancing images on the walls or the ceiling.

Keep Little Kids Near

Young children might start missing their parents once the lights go out. If you suspect that this might be the case with one or two of your partygoers, you may want to drag your sleeping bag out and join in the late-night fun, or sleep in an area that adjoins the sleepover space.

Sleepover Snacks to Work Into the Party

Sleepovers are busy evenings, and kids will work up quite a late-night appetite. No party is ever complete without a great menu, so consider working these culinary ideas into your kid's next sleepover bash.

Make Your Own Pizzas

children making personal pizza at sleepover party

If you are feeding the kids dinner, personalized pizzas are the way to go. Kids, both younger and older, will keep busy in the kitchen, creating the perfect pies, and everyone gets what they like! Be sure to have tons of toppings on hand, including vegetarian and non-dairy options. Check with parents to see if any kids have allergies or dietary restrictions as well. Lastly, make sure you have extra pizza ingredients. While you may think one personal pizza is enough for a child, they may surprise you with their monster appetites.

Set Up a Sundae Bar

Top the night off with a sweet treat. A sundae bar is an excellent idea for a sleepover snack because kids can customize what they are eating. You will want to have classic vanilla ice cream on hand, as well as non-dairy and sugar-free options in case some kids have specific dietary needs. Go wild on the toppings and include items like:

  • Crumbled cookies
  • Sprinkles
  • Gummy bears
  • Skittles or M&Ms
  • Twizzlers
  • Gumdrops
  • Marshmallows
  • A selection of sweet sauces to drizzle on top

Put Out a Perfect Popcorn Set Up

Popcorn is a perfect sleepover snack. It's easy to assemble, most kids (at least ones who don't have braces) enjoy it, and you can get really creative with this fairly simple snack food. Create a popcorn bar that includes some fun popcorn flavors:

Be sure to include personalized popcorn buckets with kids' names on them, and don't forget the drinks. Popcorn tends to make kids really thirsty.

Have a Morning After Pancake Bar

pancake buffet with fruit and peanut butter

Don't forget to put some thought into what you will feed the kids the next morning. A pancake bar is a fun breakfast idea that plays on the theme of letting kids create their own culinary concoctions. Make plain, blueberry, and chocolate chip pancakes as well as vegan pancakes and unique pancakes. Set out lots of toppings like fruit, nuts (if there are no allergies) syrups, whipped cream, and sprinkles. Offer a side of breakfast meat, fruit, and a bowl of yogurt to go with the main course. Don't forget to include a few beverage options like apple juice, orange juice, and milk.

Key Ideas to Remember When Hosting a Sleepover

When hosting a sleepover for kids, keep in mind that your activities will center around children's ages, interests, and comfort levels. Knowing this, keep a few key ideas in mind.

  • Have start and end times, so parents know when drop off and pick up is.
  • Be sure to have emergency contact numbers for all children, in the event of middle-of-the-night emergencies.
  • Sleepovers should be fun, but that doesn't mean they are free-for-alls. Create some ground rules for sleepovers in your home.
  • Be present. Don't hover and go full-on helicopter parent, but know what is happening in your home, even after the lights go out.
  • Work in fun activities and snacks to keep the kids occupied and happy.

Sleepover Activities for Younger Children

Little kids need plenty of entertainment on regular playdates, so they certainly need built-in activities when attending a sleepover. These fun ideas will keep them occupied until it is time for everyone to turn in for the evening.

Have a Before Bed Puppet Show

During the sleepover event, make some adorable sock puppets or paper bag puppets. Later in the evening, set up a puppet theater stage and have kids create some fun plays and skits using the puppets they made. This is a fun replacement activity for a traditional bedtime story.

Have a Stuffed Animal Sleepover Party

girls at sleepover party hugging stuffed toys

If you have little ones sleeping over, they might benefit from bringing along a stuffed animal from home. Invite guests to bring their favorite stuffed animal to include in the festivities. Create games that utilize the stuffed animals, set up a play dining table for the stuffed animals to eat at, and when it is time to sleep, kids will be comforted at the piece of home they brought along with them.

Create Your Own Pillowcases

Using plain white pillowcases and fabric markers, design pillowcases! Have everyone sign their name on the back of the pillowcase, and put the cases on the pillows kids brought with them. Let everyone take their pillowcases home after the sleepover as a gift.

Build Fun Forts for Creative Play

If you have cardboard boxes, have kids decorate them, cut out holes, and use them as awesome forts for creative play. If you don't have any boxes on hand, no worries! Toss the couch and chair cushions off of the furniture, and build pillow forts to pass the time.

Play Animal Charades

Little kids love using their imagination and transforming into something new and silly. This means that animal charades is the perfect game for kids who need to work some energy out before bed. Give them interesting animals to act out in front of their friends, and listen to the laughs as everyone tries to guess what the actor is.

Sleepover Activities for Older Kids

Plan a few fun things for older kids and teens to do during their sleepover, so they don't spend the entire night sitting around staring at their phones!

Create Sleepover Scrapbooks

Take tons of pictures of the kids playing games, making their snacks, watching movies, and hanging out. Print these images out on your computer or use Polaroid pictures that print out from a camera immediately. Gather up lots of scrapbook paper, embellishments, and small photo books, and create mini scrapbooks for the kids to remember their big night.

Get Matching Jammies for the Big Event

Everything is better with matching jammies! Try purchasing red and black checkered pajama pants or fun onesie pajamas for the gang. You can also buy cheap white T-shirts and iron matching designs on them.

Create a Spa Night

Set up some tubs to soak feet in, create a nail painting station, and make fun facial masks. Let the kids indulge in a spa night just for them. Bonus points for providing matching bathrobes and slippers.

Have a Movie Marathon

three boys having movie marathon

Movies and sleepovers go together like peanut butter and jelly. Work through a few classic film or some new releases. Try scary movies for teenagers who can handle some haunt. Just make sure everyone is comfortble watching this type of film, and that parents are on board with the viewing too.

Create a Fun Photo Booth

Set up a fun backdrop, gather plenty of glasses, scarves, hats, other props, and a Polaroid camera. Tada! You have a perfect little photo booth for kids to capture their silliest sleepover moments.

Giggle Through Classic Sleepover Games

Play Truth or Dare, 20 Questions, and Would You Rather? Try a few fun card games, but be sure to have several decks of cards on hand so different groups of kids can play different games. Pull out a classic board game or two, and see who comes out the champion!

Crafty Activities That Celebrate Friendship

Sleepovers are all about bonding and strengthening friendships. These cute crafts focus on exactly that. In addition to giving kids something to do, they will also provide children with an adorable memento from their sleepover experience.

Make Friendship Bracelets

tie friendship bracelet on wrist

Making friendship bracelets is a timeless craft that keeps kids occupied for hours. Use beads, string, or whatever else will suit the kids at your party's developmental needs. Go intricate with older kids or stay simple with the younger crowd.

Create a Friendship Cheer

See if the kids can work together to create a cute cheer or poem about their friendship and their sleepover party. If you're lucky, they will share the finished product with you.

Make Cute Picture Frames

Snap a picture of the kids and print several copies out. Decorate cute picture frames with glitter glue, stickers, pom-poms, and paint. Let the projects dry, and pop the picture of the sleepover gang in the frame.

Make Friendship Jars

Every person at the table gets one mason jar to decorate. After jars are nice and pretty, pass out slips of paper and a name of a party goer to each child. The task is that the crafter must write down kind thoughts, memories, and qualities of the person whose name they have, filling the jar with warm fuzzies. When the jars are filled, they get passed to the happy recipients to take home as a gift.

Write Name Poems

Work a bit of creative writing into your slumber party. Each guest gets the name of someone else. They then use the name to make a sweet poem that reflects the qualities of the person they are writing about. An example for the name CARI is as follows:

C aring

A rtistic

R adiant

I ntelligent

Make Magic Memories With Sleepovers

Kids will remember epic sleepovers for years to come. Make the one you host as special and memorable as possible, because some sleepovers are major events in many kids' childhoods. Pack in activities, games, yummy treats, and lots of love and friendship. Be sure to schedule a parent nap for the day after the sleepover, because hosting an all-nighter is a lot of work!

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