For her 9th birthday Eva decided she wanted a sleepover. Easy right?
We’ve never actually had a sleepover at all. She likes her space when she sleeps and the closest she’s ever got is camping with Eddy and another family where she shared her tent with a friend. Yet here she was asking for not one, not two, but SEVEN of her friends to sleepover at our house. Not JUST a sleepover *insert M&S advert voiceover here*. No. A sleepover party.
Well party planning is kind of my forte and it seems that even my children have wind of this now. So with the idea seed planted off I went.
When it came to planning there were a few options, I considered having those teepee tents that you see quite a lot these days. I could even outsource that and have them supplied. Make it easier on myself? As beautiful as they are though I decided that EIGHT of them would probably have been overkill, expensive and with a few of her friends having done that already I kind of thought we’d have something a little bit different.
Oh I do like to pull things off a little bit different!
As usual it’s all a bit of a rushed affair with a Christmas birthday. I’ll literally never learn.
The actual party planning was a surprise from Eva. Previously it was due to lack of organisation, time constraints and not wanting to tell her things that may not actually come to fruition more than it was intention. Yet then she started getting excited by it. Telling people that I always did a good job so it’s nice for her to have the surprise. Basically she plants a seed of the theme wildly into the abyss and to her mind hey presto an (im)perfectly planned party appears. Pressure much! This time therefore, I kept the details from her deliberately.
Party day was Saturday so as she excitedly went off to her 3 hour drama school I got set to work. On her return a lot of it was done for the big reveal.
She squealed. She jumped. She smiled and hugged me at how amazing it all was and THAT is all the thanks I’ll ever need.
See how happy she looks.
The actual sleepover set up was made from four bed canopies (mosquito nets) pinned together. Some long wires of fairy lights which we hung over mattresses, air beds and as many cushions, duvets and blankets we could find to make a cosy, hopefully magical, sleeping set up in the lounge for all of the girls together.
I used some cardboard bunting for ‘happy birthday’ in there and ‘who needs sleep?’ too. Setting my expectations low there I thought would make the inevitable sleepless night more bearable!
To decorate the rest of the house it was simple but effective with the activities for the night (details below) in different stations. The focal dresser housed her name, a balloon arch with some ivy intertwined, along with some battery operated gold lanterns. The cake took centre stage with some apt face napkins I found in Flying Tiger and I wrote chalkboards relaying a loose timeline (Eva does love to know what’s going on after all) and a reminder of our sleepover rules!
I was really conscious not to over schedule. Part of the fun of having your friends round is just chatting isn’t it? And boy did they have a lot of chat in them! Especially as a lot of her school friends she hadn’t seen for almost two whole weeks over Christmas (an eternity to 8/9 year olds).
They arrived at 5pm with their bags (I swear they came with more than I would take on a mini break), own pillows and pjs at the ready. After staking their claim on bed space they immediately sat around the table to eat a picky grazing buffet style dinner and catch up.
The first activity was nail painting. I set it all up on the dining room table like a nail painting station with brown paper to cover it so they could set to work themselves whilst I parked myself in the kitchen so as not to cramp Eva’s style. Yet close enough to step in when a child couldn’t get nail varnish anywhere near the nail of their dominant hand, and to giggle at their conversations. There were nail stickers and gems and lots of laughter.
There was also face glitter to apply like their own little festival… or a moustache as two of them requested! Don’t you just love the randomness and innocence of children?
The T-shirt design that followed took way longer than I had anticipated as it went down so well. What a creative bunch they were. It was like the last day of school when everyone signs your shirt as they adorned the plain white cotton with each other’s names. Taking an eternity to decide how many b’s they would choose to accompany bff!
A lot of chatting ensued again. I sat back and felt so privileged to get a snippet into the life Eva leads when she’s with her friends. Not something I think I will get much more of as the years roll on.
They also confused Alexa a billion times by all shouting, at decibels making me feel thankful we are detached, to play a song for 3 seconds before changing it. It was absolutely comical to watch. They even did little ‘Strictly’ dance routines for each other. Everyone got 10, naturally.
Presents and cake quickly came, unlike everything else it was over in a matter of minutes. Eva, not usually being the one for big centre of attention, looked pleased as punch just to be surrounded (VERY closely I might add, personal space didn’t seem a consideration here) by all her friends happy in her celebrations. I wish I could have bottled up that moment.
Once they had all grabbed their hair nets (honestly it looked like I’d got a factory line going the way they were all wearing them), sleep masks and slipper socks they waited for the ‘spa’ to start. This was basically a ruse to ensure they all washed their faces of glitter whilst also feeling pampered and grown up without introducing any chemicals to their still delicate young skin.
I steamed the flannels to be like hot towels and placed them on a tray with some cooling eye cucumber. Of course it got a laugh when one of Eva’s friends merely ate the cucumber and then it was a competiton on who could find the most inventive way to place it on their face. In the folds of the eye mask won hands down. Seconded by on top of the flannel which meant for a brief moment they all lay quietly (or as quiet as 9 year olds get) looking like some kind of flannel monsters!
Following using their flannels to wash their faces and change into their pjs – or their newly designed T-shirt’s as a lot of them chose to wear – they piled on the beds to watch a movie.
But not before games.
Once more I didn’t want to be prescriptive with lots of games taking away from spur of the moment fun time. Thankfully Eva had gotten a book for Christmas from her auntie of sleepover games. It was like a young child version of ‘truth or dare’ and ‘would you rather’. Very mild fun that they all had a bit of a laugh with. If they could get a word in edgeways that is. I seriously take my hat off to their teachers.
After me vetoing their choice of watching their own school production (narcissism at its best) they settled for The Sound of Music. We watched it for an hour with popcorn and subtitles as they sung their hearts out – some more than others with jazz hands at the ready. I paused it to brush their teeth and bed down to a rather ambitious 10pm lights out. If anyone knows The Sound of Music you will know it is a 3 HOUR film! As much as I love it I can’t quite do that at already 10pm on a Saturday night.
I left them to it before having that moment you walk into a room to your child’s friends and you have your PJS ON! Shock horror. Most of these children I’ve only seen at the school gate or at other parties so it made them laugh ALOT. That stage of parenting ey!
Thankfully they were all so good, brushed their teeth all together huddled in our downstairs washroom like some kind of dorm camp. I poured myself a rather well deserved glass of Prosecco and gladly joined them to watch half an hour more of the film and lights went out at about 11.15pm. Phew.
Naturally I spent a slightly torturous 45 minutes tidying up in the kitchen and just waiting around for them to go to sleep intermittently telling various children to keep it down so that others could close their eyes. Mostly just wanting to go to sleep myself.
Midnight came and all was quiet so I took myself and my peppermint tea finally up to bed.
Yes I did have to go down at 5.15am to tell a couple of them it definitely WASN’T morning. Eva’s Fitbit had kindly informed me she had already been awake an hour! Thankfully they did go back to sleep though and it was a much more acceptable 7am until I heard them again.
They pottered, tiptoed around the ones whom were still sleeping (goodness knows how with the noise going on around them) and finally got to watch last years school production. Screaming at each other saying they missed people who had upped and left for senior school. Relaying stories of just 12 short months but seemingly a lifetime ago.
I escaped to roll pain au chocolat and cinnamon swirls in the kitchen when one girl came and asked if I’d like any help. So there I stood in my dressing gown and slippers rolling pastries chatting to an 8 year old that wasn’t mine.
I laid out the breakfast and after brushing their teeth in an almost identical way to the night before they praised me and got stuck in faster than their little mouths could keep up with.
Before we knew it they were dressed as I was transported to 10 years time when it will be a similar but I am sure different story when getting ready to go ‘out out’, a scary thought! 10am actually seemed to roll around faster than I imagined. Parents arrived to collect slightly tired but otherwise happy children and their ‘party bags’ of the loot they had collected, nail varnish, sleep mask, cosy socks and a bath fizz.
I collapsed in a heap as soon as the last child left but with an odd sort of contentment. Eva has such a lovely group of friends that allow her to be a bit different. They are all quirky in their own way and celebrate that about each other, they are fun and free and although they were all a unit before Eva joined the school whilst they were two years in (something I constantly worried about) they have welcomed her with open arms as if she had always been there. This, is just the most wonderful feeling. She is very lucky to have such wonderful friends.
Eva left the party happy and I really enjoyed spending it with her. Maybe this growing up thing isn’t so bad after all.
As for another sleepover? I definitely think one is enough!