Ideas for a tween sleepover in our tiny apartment
October 11, 2015 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Hi, so my daughter and I live in a tiny apartment on the edge of a cool small town. I agreed to host a birthday sleepover for her and three other 11 year old girls. We're going to walk into town and get fancy pizza and local ice cream, then come back and.....

I am really nervous about filling the time. Like I said, our apartment is small. I'm planning on giving the girls the living room for sleeping (my daughter has a loft bed and her bedroom is too small for everyone). I am completely out of ideas for what to do with them once we get back from town. They'll watch movies and I'll make popcorn at some point, but are there any fun things that you all can suggest? Making homemade beauty products? Dance party? Making a keepsake? We have a lot of nice craft paper, art supplies, plenty of Barbies and other dolls, dress up clothes, good tunes.....give me your best ideas!
posted by bright and shiny to Human Relations (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We did this with a car ride to and from cool places (45 min between ice cream parlor, roller rink, and home) ... I plugged a cord into my AUX jack and the girls used their phones to play mix master and take turns playing songs and sing alongs for each other.

If there's a kareoke app for your phone they might like that too.
posted by tilde at 3:02 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't think they need structured activities. They're 11. They giggle and talk and keep you up all night anyway. Provide movies, music, food and nailpolish and leave them to it.
posted by kjs4 at 3:17 PM on October 11, 2015 [40 favorites]

You can prepare some suggestions in case they get bored (probably won't). They'll probably appreciate the unstructured time. Also, I dont know about small apartments and dance parties wtih tweens...
posted by driedmango at 3:22 PM on October 11, 2015

Best answer: Rent some movies, have some polish and nail stickers ready and leave them alone. They'll have a blast. That age can entertain themselves. Check on them by bringing in some snacks and make them go to bed at some point. Party win.
posted by pearlybob at 3:25 PM on October 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

Mancala, Set, or a pack of cards maybe?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:38 PM on October 11, 2015

I think you'll be fine with nail polish and movies.

One cautious note as seasoned veteran of a lot of sleepover parties: sometimes, even the nicest girls can forget their manners and they will sometimes shun or turn on another girl. Keep an eye on their dynamic.

I've seen the nicest girls turn into horribly mean girl monsters at sleepovers, including my own daughters.
posted by kinetic at 3:45 PM on October 11, 2015 [15 favorites]

Best answer: When I was at sleepovers around that age the best thing the parent could do would be to have a thing to busy themselves with in another room. Ideally a movie or a TV show of their own so we felt it was even less likely they were paying attention to us.

The best movies for us, of course, were horror and bizarre late-night things. I want to suggest some 70s disaster movies, but am aware that it can be hard to sell kids on dated media. But surely there's something just a little bit out there that would appeal?

(I would serve a junky breakfast. The mini boxes of sugary cereal, pancakes with sprinkles, Pop Tarts, frozen hash browns, chocolate milk, raspberry Tang, that sort of garbage...)
posted by kmennie at 3:46 PM on October 11, 2015 [10 favorites]

They'll probably come up with their own activities but if you want to have an idea ready, they might like making things with oven-baked clay like this. You can get it at places like Michael's or A.C. Moore. That's something my 12 year old daughter would definitely enjoy and I think most of her friends would too.
posted by Redstart at 3:49 PM on October 11, 2015

I wouldn't do beauty products. They'll just make a mess and get bored of it. Nail polish and food and movies in a space where they can be together and comfortable is plenty. But kinetic's advice above is very good -- they do turn on each other in this setting, so keep an ear cocked.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:51 PM on October 11, 2015

Best answer: The best sleepovers when I was a kid were the ones that were fairly unstructured. My friends and I loved stupid humor, so movies like The Good Burger were big hits. Fun snacky foods (and yes on the junky breakfast, I would have loved that), nail polish, all of that is good. Maybe a book of Mad Libs? Also having some board games available.
posted by I_love_the_rain at 3:51 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think that was around the time my friends and I got pretty good at entertaining ourselves, and sleep overs were more about socializing than a focused activity, so it sounds like you're mostly there. We'd hang out at a tennis/basketball court or bowling alley and make up our own silly games with overly complicated rules that constantly evolved ( this may still occur on occasion, we're dorks). Is there a park around town you could hit up before or after ice cream? Or maybe an age appropriate board or card game? Apples to apples was always a family favorite across all ages (but then, grandma was an English teacher).

Caveat, is your daughter on the shy side? If so, and you think a planned activity would help her feel more comfortable, ask her what she thinks would be more fun. I'd go for something she can take the lead on, so your supervision would be minimal: making necklaces/bracelets, nail polish, painting/drawing (I still have a decoupaged jewelry box from a middle school party), halloween makeup ( I had a book with face paint and instructions for about a dozen different monsters, pinterest might have something similar). I think you could let her go to it organically if she starts to feel a bit anxious. Pizza and ice cream might still be enough to break the ice so the stuff may just sit there (or only get half used) while they giggle the night away.
posted by ghost phoneme at 4:04 PM on October 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah - no entertainment needed, you'll just end up frustrated when they don't listen and want to talk about silly stuff all night. Because they're totally going to want to talk about silly stuff all night. Sounds like they'll have plenty of choices between the Barbies and dress up stuff. If they do seem to be bored or just casting about for something to do, yeah, put out some art supplies and let them go to town with them (I usually set some out and they come up with how they want to use them).

Adding to what kinetic said, don't be afraid to tell all the girls what's what. If they are being too loud, say, "hey, knock it off" to all of them. At this age, I enforce a bedtime. No 11-year-old needs to stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning. I tell them they have to start setting down at 11 with lights out around 11:30 (it'll take as much as an hour for them to really settle down and go to sleep).
posted by dawkins_7 at 4:25 PM on October 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Movies, nail polish and I would also recommend getting those cheap clay face masks from Target. They can give themselves homemade facials. Other option is to buy a jewelry making kit for them from Michaels or Amazon or something.
posted by superfille at 5:10 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I remember some sleepovers when I was a kid having subtle but awful group dynamics that an adult at a glance would not have noticed.

Beforehand, you might want to create a subtle code word or hand signal that your kid can use if she needs to talk to you. Like, you check in on the kids, she gives you the code (maybe rubbing one eyebrow with one finger, or saying "muchos gracias" or something), and you say "oh honey come to the kitchen for a sec, I need your help with something".

This gives her a chance to privately tell you if anything weird is going on (like if the interpersonal dynamic has gone south and someone's being snubbed) and that way if needed you can come in and structure their time more. In fact even if she doesn't give you the signal, you might wanna pull her aside at one point and check in.

A simple jewellery kit or similar craft is a nice idea- it can be good to have simple unstructured activities to keep hands busy, can make the socializing smoother.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:50 PM on October 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

The girls I know are a teeny bit younger, but they're all obsessed with duct tape crafts and paracord. Get 10 rolls of cool duct-tape, a few extra pairs of scissors, see what happens.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:38 PM on October 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

I realise my first comment was maybe less than helpful. My friends and I quite liked baking things at that age. Anything sweet and out of a box was fine - we did not have high standards. Cupcakes, icing (frosting) and sprinkles can keep all ages busy for awhile.
posted by kjs4 at 9:09 PM on October 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Gather all the linens you have and let them build an elaborate fort to sleep in. Tent poles help for this too - you can probably grab some supplies cheap at a local thrift store if need be. Command hooks, curtain rods, rope, etc. Then leave them the heck alone.

Another thing I would suggest is taking your daughter (with or without her friends) to the grocery store, giving her a $__ limit, and let her buy all the weird food/junk she wants. Add in some SLIGHTLY healthier food (veggie tray, hummus and pita, cheese and crackers) and again...leave them to it. They will want to watch netflix/tv/youtube and talk about their crushes or whatever. If you must have a group activity I would also consider taking your daughter to a craft store and let her pick out supplies or a couple of craft kits.
posted by SassHat at 8:55 AM on October 15, 2015

Response by poster: Hi everyone, the night is going incredibly well, they're all settled in watching Harry Potter movies. The best advice was to leave them alone but I was prepared with all kinds of silly things in case things went south. Actually, some of them are asleep right now. Thank you so much for the suggestions and the reflections and advice, it was invaluable. Now I'm worried that things are going too well!
posted by bright and shiny at 8:31 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Haha, spoke too soon. They're up and giggling....
posted by bright and shiny at 9:34 PM on October 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

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