When your teen has a sleepover there's a good chance he or she will resist any ideas for games or projects while their friends are over. Try some of these fun ideas to make it a memorable night without embarrassing your teen with "stuff for little kids."
Customize the Night
While many people assume all teens like the same thing, the fact is that not all teens find the same things entertaining. You know your teen well; don't present an idea that makes it sound as though you're planning a sleepover for younger children or something that doesn't actually appeal to their interests.
The Dance Experience
You will need a room that you can open up by moving furniture to the side for your teen's own dance club. Dim the lights, pump up the music, and then let them have the room to themselves to dance. If you have a strobe light or disco ball, this experience is definitely elevated. This will go over better if you, as the parent, don't stand there watching them dance (and certainly don't take photos of them) as they will feel more inhibited in their dancing if there's an audience. Instead, allow them the freedom to enjoy the "dance club" freely. Be sure to play music they enjoy instead of your favorites. You can also increase the fun factor with some dance- and music-themed activities.
- Music video contest - Girls are divided equally into smaller groups and each comes up with a music video for a favorite song (a girl not in the group can take the video on someone's phone). Place fun props in the area they can use. Girls vote anonymously to determine the winners. A small prize, like an iTunes gift card, makes a fun addition.
- Parady craze - Teens can challenge one another to see who can come up with the zaniest parodies on their favorite songs.
- Name the lyrics - Get the song lyrics for popular teen tunes and copy them in a new document. Remove some words throughout, then print and teens can see who can get the most lyrics correct.
The Spa Experience
Chances are good that your teenager probably already has an impressive variety of nail polish colors at her disposal. Gather these up and set up some chairs for a spa experience. Add some homemade face masks and you have all the makings of an at-home spa that won't cost a lot of money to pull together. Add some herbal tea to the moment and play some soothing music to accentuate the ambiance. Perhaps they'll relax so much that they will actually sleep at some point in the evening. You can also include:
- DIY spa favors - Let the teens create their spa item, like body scrub, lotion, or lip gloss. Buy small containers at a local craft supply and set out the ingredients for one or more recipes. Many of these can be made with simple ingredients found at home or easily purchased at a grocery store in advance. Give a few options for things like scents so girls can customize their creations.
- Manicure challenge - Come up with a theme or set of themes (beach, holiday, flowers etc.) for nail art and teens can challenge one another who can come up with the best or most creative look. This could either be done for a complete nail look or with individual nails for a more fast paced activity.
- Celebrity look-a-like - Girls choose favorite celebrity makeup looks and see who can best emulate it. Supply some inexpensive makeup from a line like Elf with individual applicators or cotton swabs to apply.
The Shopping Experience
This activity takes a little pre-planning. Before the sleepover, comb the bargain racks at stores to find inexpensive trinkets that the teens might like (makeup, hair accessories, phone accessories, etc.) and stock up on these as you find them. If your budget allows for more expensive items, buy things you know your teen will like and set them aside. The night of the sleepover, set all the items out on display in a room of your house. Find your teens, hand them all bags (if your budget allows reusable bags are great, but paper or plastic bags work too). Declare that "the store is open," and usher them all into the room with the trinkets.
- Teens will enjoy "shopping" without a budget.
- If the sleepover is a birthday party, these items can serve as the goodie bags for guests.
- Don't go solely for quantity; if teens are presented with a room packed with stuff that they could find as a prize in a Cracker Jack box, they're not going to be impressed or excited.
The Sleep Deprivation Game
You already know that the teens are likely not going to sleep much - or perhaps not at all - during the sleepover, so why not use this as an opportunity to demonstrate how important sleep is to cognitive function? This game is ongoing throughout the night. Every hour or two, record the teens answering a short series of questions that make them think while holding a sign showing the time; you can be the person recording or assign your teen as the designated interviewer. You can also have them attempt to solve puzzles. As the night wanes, their responses will get less precise and definitely slower.
The in between time gives the teens time to hang out and have unscheduled free time (which they'll appreciate). You'll wind up with a funny video that shows how much the brain slows when not given proper sleep; burn the videos onto a DVD to pass out as everyone leaves the next day.
More Fun Games and Activities for Teen Sleepovers
Not all sleepover activities have to be a full-blown "experience." You can always play classic games like Truth or Dare, but here are some other ideas for fun games and activities too.
"Only You'll Know"
The teens sit in a circle. The first teen whispers a question to the person to her right, which the person answers aloud. Everyone in the circle then votes as to whether or not they get to hear what the original question was; this game becomes more fun when you limit the number of times the group gets to hear the question in a round.
"Get Down, Mr. President!"
Without warning, one person puts their hand up to their ear, as though listening through an ear piece. Everyone else who notices it does the same, until there's only one person without their hand to their ear (because she didn't notice). Everyone yells, "Get down, Mr. President!" and then gently tackles the person to the ground, mimicking the Secret Service protecting the president from harm.
Swaps or Auctions
Teens love getting new stuff, and with a little organization you can create a fun swap or auction where no one has to spend a dime. On the invitations, specify that guests bring one or more of their own gently used items to swap or auction based on a chosen theme (clothing, accessories, video games, movies, fun stuff to decorate a bedroom, etc). You can set up an area for a swap or set up an auction where each teen gets a certain number of tokens she or he can use to "purchase" items from the auction block.
If you have an active teen, or for earlier in the evening when teens still have a ton of energy, consider some more active games. You can create many of these with items around the house:
- DIY obstacle course (good for outdoors or if you have a basement) - Set up things like a mini balance beam (could just be a length of word slightly off the ground, items the teens have to go under or over (can use furniture, draped blankets, etc.), and challenges like getting a set of balls into a basket placed a challenging distance away.
- Minute-to-win it type games - Simple and fast paced, you can come up with lots of fun teen games like seeing how many mini marshmallows each teen can transfer between bowls using a straw or how many balloons they can blow up and pop in one minute.
- Themed scavenger or treasure hunts - Come up with a specific theme for a scavenger or treasure hunt based on your teen's interests (Like sports, fashion, or nature) or make it challenging with unique items or clues. Make a scavenger hunt more fun for teens by making it a photo hunt where they have to take pictures of things or places on the list.
If you're teen is on the creative side, gather items she can and her friends can use to create some fun and crafty items. These can be recycled crafts or made with inexpensive items from the dollar or craft store. Ideas include:
- Beaded or recycled jewelry, like Starburst bracelets or necklaces
- Small picture frames
- DIY jewelry holders
- Decorated magnets (they can use to decorate lockers at school)
- Easy tote bag
- Decorated journals
- Embellished flip flops or other D.I. Y. Fashion
- Room decor
It's no secret that teens love watching movies at sleepovers. Enhance the experience by creating a simple DIY trivia game based on some popular teen movies. You can also create a "concession stand" area (could be a dining room table, kitchen counter, etc.). This doesn't have to be expensive for parents; microwave popcorn served in individual paper bags will mimic movie theater popcorn, just as off-brand soda served in disposable cups with ice and straws will give the feel of a movie theater. Of course, if you want to go all out with full size candy bars, nachos, and hot dogs, you'll wind up presenting an impressive concession stand.
Don't Pack the Night
Teens want to hang out with each other and don't necessarily want adults swooping in to navigate the entire evening. Set your teen up with snacks and friends and let them steer the course of the evening. Whatever your plans, just make sure they leave ample room for goofing off and hanging out with friends.