How to Organize Your Child’s Upcoming “Sleep-Under” Party

When your child wishes for an overnight experience but is not yet mature enough for it, learning how to organize your child’s upcoming “sleep-under” party can be the perfect solution. By arranging a fake sleepover, you can create a fun and memorable event that meets both your child’s desires and your own comfort level.

Children and sleepovers go together like campfires and s’mores, but while your child may be begging for a sleepover, they may not be mature enough to handle one. If your child is still young enough to be terrified of things that go bump in the night or if they still rely on their tried-and-true bedtime routine, then a sleep-under might be the next best thing to a sleeping bag on the floor.

A sleep-under is a simulated sleepover for children who are not yet old enough for an overnight. At this type of party, children are welcomed in the evening to participate in typical slumber party activities but are picked up by their parents before bedtime. Here are some helpful recommendations for ensuring that your child’s sleepover succeeds.

Time and Headcount

The optimal time for a sleep-under is just before dinner. After settling on a headcount (one or two best friends? or a full class? ), select a window of time between three and four hours, which is ideal for the children to enjoy a dinner, some games, and a movie.

If your sleep-deprived guests arrive around 5 p.m., prepare for their departure at or slightly after their usual bedtime (about 8 p.m. is ideal!). This allows the children to select their resting locations, unroll their sleeping bags, and settle in for a few hours of sleepy fun.

Sleepover-Themed Dinner

Food is always an integral aspect of celebrations. From finger foods for an after-school playdate to pizza and cake for a birthday celebration, the food you offer can affect the atmosphere and theme of a gathering. Try providing breakfast for dinner as a fun twist for a sleepover.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Make a basic waffle or pancake bar on the kitchen counter and allow the children to choose their own toppings, such as whipped cream, berries, and maple syrup. Provide a side of fruit and yogurt, as well as orange juice.
  • Tiny cereal boxes are a creative method to satisfy everyone’s desires. Get a variety pack of your child’s favorite chocolatey or fruity cereals and allow them to choose their own flavors. Add some fresh fruit and milk to finish.
  • Eggs are always successful! If you only need to entertain a few children, consider preparing diner-style omelets or scrambled eggs, toast, and sausages.

You can always order pizza if your children are not interested in breakfast for supper.

Don’t Forget Pajamas!

Invite the children (and yourself) to wear their favorite jammies. Also, they should remember to bring a stuffed animal or blanket, a pillow, and a sleeping bag. After all, what is a sleep-under without the proper equipment?

Consider asking your guests to bring a blank t-shirt that they can design with fabric paint to create a pajama “uniform” for the remainder of the party if your youngster enjoys crafts.


If your visitors are too thrilled to sit still long enough to watch a movie, consider providing a few entertaining games to keep everyone happy and occupied. Here are a few timeless songs that are guaranteed to get those wiggles out:

Truth or Dare

What is a sleepover without an exciting round of Truth or Dare? As the majority of your guests will likely be children, you can construct entertaining, age-appropriate truths and dares for them to complete. Ask them about the ridiculous things they’ve done (have they ever given their meal to their dog?) or their worst experiences (what’s the grossest veggie they’ve ever eaten?). Keep dares basic but entertaining, such as challenging children to bite into something sour, such as a lemon, or to spin around three times and then try to walk in a straight line.

Dance Event

Put on some kid-friendly music and dance in the living room. Check out these entertaining dance moves on YouTube and see how many you can learn in a single evening. The Electric Slide, the Mashed Potato, the Cabbage Patch, the Running Man, and the Worm are some classics. Instead, try creating new dance moves and naming them humorously.

Flashlight Tag

Get your guests to bring a small flashlight; when it becomes dark enough, play a thrilling game of flashlight tag outside! To keep everyone safe, review all the rules, including where the children are permitted to play and where they are not permitted to play (the street, parked cars, dangerous parts of a yard, etc.).

Pillow Fight

Establish an area where children may engage in pillow fights without knocking down a lamp (or other breakables), and let the battle begin. To prevent the energy from escalating out of control, have an adult serve as the referee to keep the children safe.


Does your home contain numerous excellent hiding spots? If so, sardines would be an incredible game. Assign one child the role of the sardine and instruct the remaining children to count to 10, 20, or 30 to give the sardine time to hide. The children then disperse and search for the sardine; when they discover it, they silently hide with it until all the children are squeezed together like sardines. The last child looking loses this round but gets to be a sardine in the following game.

Movie Time

Choose an age-appropriate film as low-key amusement for the children. Let the children snuggle into their sleeping bags and turn out the lights. Uncertain about what to watch? Here are some family-friendly classics that most young children enjoy:

  • Mary Poppins
  • The Peanuts Movie
  • Ratatouille
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Paddington
  • Stuart Little

What is a movie without an additional snack? Consider popping popcorn, serving tortilla chips with nacho cheese, or handing out small treat bags containing favorites such as Milk Duds and M&Ms.

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