9 super tips for hosting a slumber party

What’s the secret to throwing the best slumber party ever? Fun food, lots of activities and great quiet time entertainment to settle the kids down late at night.

We asked Chicago area parents for their recommendations. These nine strategies rose to the top.

Get the kids cooking

Have them make their own pizzas using a box of pizza dough and sauce, bags of assorted shredded cheese and a variety of toppings (meats, veggies, Doritos, and for the more adventurous, marshmallows, peanut butter, chocolate chips or gummy fish). Or, create a make-your-own-sundae bar, with flavors that range from classic to contemporary.

Set up a makeover station

All you’ll need are fingernail polishes, nail polish remover, extra mirrors, a few cakes of blush, mascara and a bright selection of eye shadows. You can buy extra eye shadow applicators for as little as a dollar. For a twist, give the girls a facial! Tubes or packets of facial masks are available at discount stores.

Host a Nerf gun battle

Open the backyard or the basement for Nerf gun fun, making sure each child has a Nerf gun. In the summer, outdoor water blaster or water balloon battles also are a hit. Tip: Have each child bring an extra change of clothes and have a basket ready to throw their wet clothes into a dryer.

Play “Who’s Your Mummy?”

All you need is toilet paper. Have the kids pair with another child and have one child wrap the other in toilet paper, mummy style. Then, challenge the mummy children to break through their tissue paper getup.

Make your own photo booth

Drape a sheet over a door or pin it to a wall; then add some decals or other decorations. Take photos of the kids and send them out for one-hour processing. Or, try an old-school approach by using a Polaroid camera. Kids will get a kick out of watching the photos come to life.

Create an arts-and-crafts center

Buy blank canvases for the children to paint as a group, in pairs or individually. Acrylic paints, in bottles or tubes, work well. For less mess, try chalks or oil crayons. You can also buy ready-to-make craft kids in bulk from discount shopping sites like Oriental Trading.

Design a city of forts

Give the kids all the items they’ll need to create their own forts: blankets, pillows and pillow cushions. Or, set up a fairy town with tiny indoor tents, collapsible playhouses and flashlights. Don’t have enough for the group? Ask other parents if they have playhouses or tents you can borrow.

Try a “Fear Factor” challenge

Have the kids dunk their hands in covered bowls of mystery food and guess the items inside. Or, choose a selection of baby foods and have children take a tiny taste and guess the flavors. For a less messy challenge, consider a pre-made “guess the flavor” kit, like the BeanBoozled Jelly Belly challenge.

End the night’s activities with a classic movie

Think “E.T.,” “Princess Bride,” “Goonies” or “Holes”—movies the kids might not have seen before that are sure to capture their attention and help settle them down for the night.

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