Hang out all night with your very best friends, crash on the floor for a few hours, and get up the next morning for a big pancake breakfast. For most preteen girls, a loosely-structured birthday celebration will do just fine. Help your child brainstorm games and crafts she thinks her friends will enjoy, make sure you have the needed supplies, then let the kids run the show on party night.
• Consider having this party the weekend before your child's birthday and reserve the real date for a family party.
• Everyone knows that a sleepover party is about anything but sleep--playing CDs, watching videos, telling ghost stories, you get the drift--so be prepared to call it a later night than usual.
• Have a few board games, a video or cards on hand just in case the kids look to you for suggestions (such as card games) of what they can do.
• Don't forget to stock up on munchies!
• Have your child find out each guest's foot size and favorite color, then shop for flip-flops to make sleepytime slippers.
• Move furniture (if necessary) to clear an area for spreading sleeping bags.
• Set out craft supplies, games and a deck of cards.
• Put out guest towels and extra pillows.
Make a case for a great party by slipping simple card stock invitations into mini pillowcases that the birthday kid can mail in an envelope or hand-deliver. For each, cut out a 7- by 10-inch piece of fabric. With the printed side down, fold up a 3/4-inch strip along one long edge and secure it in place with a glue stick. Turn the cloth right side up and apply glue along the three unfolded edges. Fold the fabric in half so that the two short sides match up and press down on all the edges to make them stick together. Now turn the pocket right side out. Next, trim a piece of card stock to fit inside the case and print on it all of the specifics along with a reminder for guests to pack pajamas, a sleeping bag, a pillow and a toothbrush. For a fun touch, puff up the pillow by inserting a piece of Bubble Wrap into the case along with the invitation.
These sassy jungle slippers are just the thing to make guests feel right at home. To make a pair, place flip-flops on the back side of a piece of fake fur and trace around the bottoms. Cut out the shapes. On each cutout, mark the three spots where the foot straps on the flip-flops join the insole, then cut three slits from the outer edge in toward each mark. Cover the top of each insole with double-sided cloth carpet tape. Starting from the heel, slowly roll the fur cutout onto the insole, adjusting it around the toe straps. Firmly press down on the fur, and the slippers are ready to wear.
Your child will be bidding good-bye to her gaggle of guests in the morning, but with hand-decorated pillowcases to take home as favors, everyone can sleep on their memories for nights to come. During the party, pass out felt-tipped fabric pens and prewashed white pillowcases (slip a piece of cardboard inside each case to keep the ink from seeping through to the other side). Then the kids can embellish their individual cases with drawings and favorite slogans. They may even want to pass their cases around for everyone to autograph.
The morning after the party will be time to wake up and smell the pancakes. In lieu of a traditional layer cake served the night before, present the birthday girl and her entourage with a tall stack of hotcakes drizzled with maple syrup, chocolate sauce, fruit, or whipped cream--anything goes. Top it off with candles and don't forget to sing "Happy Birthday."