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Surviving the Sleep-over


Two of Hesperus's friends look angelic for the camera. Don't be fooled by these sweet smiles! They're really rabble rousers.

Two of Hesperus's friends look angelic for the camera. Don't be fooled by these sweet smiles! They're really rabble rousers.

About a thousand years ago I wrote a post about my then 10-year-old’s upcoming birthday, her plans to have a huge gala to celebrate turning eleven, my fears about not being able to afford it, and my general dread of the whole idea.

One reader whose kids are a bit older than mine, Brette Sember (check out her blog at MarthaAndMe) mentioned that a sleep-over party was all but obligatory at this age. Still, she gave me several practical suggestions on how to keep it manageable.


Other readers also helped assuage my fears and encouraged me to keep things within the limits of what I could handle.


Thank you for all your wisdom.


I am here to report back that we had the sleep-over party.


And that I survived.


The girls arrived at 3:00 p.m.


Our first activity was a photo shoot.

Hesperus and a friend in a silly pose. We took a lot of fun shots as well as portraits.

Hesperus and a friend in a silly pose. We took a lot of fun shots as well as portraits.


Then the girls played outside. They came in to make their own pizzas (also Brette’s idea). I was going to buy pizza crusts but decided that morning to make whole wheat dough before the party started. It rose surprisingly well (homemade bread and I have an uneasy friendship. I aspire to bake my own. Sometimes it’s fantastic. Sometimes it’s a brick.)


While the pizzas cooked, Hesperus opened presents, accompanied by lots of giggles and exclamations.


After dinner, we had cake and ice cream. I made a very simple glazed lemon cake (agave sweetened with whole wheat flour) that I baked the night before:


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Hesperus convinced me to buy a can of whipped cream, which she then spurted directly into her mouth. This might have been the highlight of her entire life.


After dinner, I put the baby to bed and then raced out on my bicycle to the drug store to print the photos. Etani and Athena went to bed, James and I cleaned the kitchen, and the girls watched “Twilight.” (They’re all obsessed with the Twilight books and one of Hesperus’s friends had already seen the movie four times!)


I went to bed before the movie was over. James, who took Etani and the baby to a friend’s earlier in the party, stayed up to usher the girls to bed. Their giggling only woke me up thirteen times. Constant reminders to hush from James kept them relatively quiet. They all slept on the living room floor.


Baby Leone was all coos and smiles at 6:00 a.m. Since the big girls had gone to bed at midnight, I didn’t want her waking them. So I took her for a two-hour walk.


Then I made pancakes.


Then we had a pinata (we ran out of time the night before) and the girls munched on candy and worked on their friendship books.


They glued pictures of their friends on the pages and then each friend wrote something on the page opposite her picture. They used colored pencils to make borders and cut letters and pictures out of magazines to decorate the books.


Hesperus, her brother, and her friends working on their friendship books

Hesperus, her brother, and her friends working on their friendship books


This activity was super successful and kept them so busy that they weren’t ready to go when the party was supposed to be over. So everybody but one friend stayed a couple hours longer to finish their books:


The cover of one girl's friendship book

The cover of one girl's friendship book


Sample page from friendship book

Sample page from friendship book


Hesperus was happy. Everyone had a good time, I think. I put the kids to bed super early Sunday night and no one acted sleep deprived. Besides me.




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Tags: 11-year-olds, affordable parties, birthday party, friendship books, fun things to do at a birthday party, photo shoot, pinata, sleep-over party, turning 11, Twilight obsession





Comments (14)

Sounds like a great party! I like the way you inspired creation in the girls. .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..Wellfleet in September Paradise 4 Kids =-.
Love this post! They all look so happy in the photos. Way to go, Jennifer; you've survived a big ordeal we mothers of daughters have to go through. .-= Ruth Pennebaker´s last blog ..Mad Women =-.
Glad it went well. Always some scope for disaster with these things. .-= Melanie´s last blog ..Cheap iPad Alernative- Android Tablet =-.
Love that the whipped cream might have been the highlight of her life. Sometimes we've just gotta let go, huh? .-= Kris Bordessa´s last blog ..Lilikoi Gingerade =-.
I love the idea of the friendship books! I'm glad the party was successful and that you thought my advice was helpful. And I had to laugh about your bread - mine is the same way - sometimes good, sometimes awful. I think sometimes you're supposed to say a magic spell over it.
Awww--I'll have to remember this when my kid is old enough for these things. Sounds like a great time! .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..9 Ways I’m a Normal Mom and Wife =-.
Fun, fun party. Homemade fun is the best, right? .-= Kristen´s last blog ..MKES in Ladies’ Home Journal- KIWI and more =-.
Phew! Now you're done with her birthday party for another year. I remember how much I looked forward to sleepovers at that age. We'd do some crafts, paint each other's toenails, maybe watch a movie. But really ... it's not so much the bells and whistles as the company.
Speaking as one of the mom's of Hesperus' guests, I can also confirm that the party was quite a success. Nellie had a great time and the activity you choose of making the friendship books was brilliant. I'm planning on stealing that one! I also hosted my first ever many-girl sleepover for Nellie's birthday this year (as you may remember). We had a great two-team treasure hunt,a simple craft, and then all the girls rode their bikes to the YMCA to go swimming. Not only is swimming fun, it was also a chance for them to all ride their bikes together. Still, your friendship books beat that. I really love them!
Janet-Nellie's slumber party was the party to end all parties. Hesperus STILL talks about it. I think they really loved being able to go off on their own. Also, the simple craft was fantastic (she loves her decorated vase) and the fact that you had so many cool activities lined up was also amazing. I think it set the bar high. I'm just glad (she says, wiping sweat from her brow) that this year's is over. Well, for one of my children anyway. The thing about Nellie is that she hasn't been having elaborate parties every year whereas my darling daughter had the birthday party to end all birthday parties (a ducky cake with blueberry water and mango webbed feet, need I say more?) when she was one and that was eleven years ago. At least my son has shown no interest in anything beyond a family party. Yet. p.s. Glad you liked the friendship books. I was surprised at just how involved they got in that project. If you have a chance to see Carson's, she decorated hers really nicely, adding borders and everything. .-= Jennifer Margulis´s last blog ..Bankruptcy lawyers cash in- my new article in Oregon Business Magazine =-.
Your suggestions were so helpful, Brette. Thank you again. I think you, and other readers, really helped me give myself permission to do my best without worrying about being over-the-top with everything. Also glad to hear that I'm not the only aspiring baker who screws up bread! .-= Jennifer Margulis´s last blog ..Bankruptcy lawyers cash in- my new article in Oregon Business Magazine =-.
waw what a fantastic day it has become! simple, friends, amazing! congratulations. i'm sure hesperus will have tears in the eyes when she will read this in 20 years. all the best joanna .-= Joanna´s last blog ..Abitibi =-.
The photo shoot was always a favorite sleepover activity for my group of friends growing up. We'd augment the fun with insane outfits from the Salvation Army - another idea for your next party! (Now I have to dig up some of those photos.)
FABULOUS story. Sounds like everyone had a great time, and you're still super mom in her eyes! .-= Stephanie - Wasabimon´s last blog ..The Herbfarm’s 100-Mile Dinner =-.
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