Relationships

Have You Ever Had a Family Sleepover?

A Family Sleepover

Have you ever had a family sleepover? We had one this weekend, and here’s how it went down…

A Family Sleepover

Our friends Maz and Lee (of City Hall wedding fame) live in Queens, about a half hour away from our apartment in Brooklyn. We’d been wanting to do a games night, but babysitters are expensive, so Alex and I had an idea: Why not just invite them to sleep over? (We piled the kids into bedrooms and Alex was sweet enough to sleep on the sofa.)

A Family Sleepover

They arrived at 6:30 p.m. and the kids ran around the apartment like little tornadoes, while the adults drank wine and caught up. Then, around 8:30 p.m., after the four boys had sacked out, we ate lasagna and busted out board games, including The Resistance and Dixit, which were both really fun. (Have you played them? I’d love to hear your game recs, too!)

A Family Sleepover

The next morning, when the kids woke up, Lee and Maz’s youngest son said, “At first, I thought we were at our house and then I remembered we were here!!!” They were ecstatic to be hanging out/wreaking havoc for hours.

A Family Sleepover

Overall, it felt like we were on a trip, even though we stayed home the whole time. Those in-between moments of chatting, hanging out and making eggs and pancakes for breakfast felt so leisurely and relaxing. I’d love to do it again soon.

Would you have a family sleepover? Have you? I’m curious to hear…

P.S. A mom/kid sleepover, and a very easy dinner party.

  1. Matariki says...

    We do this with our friends all the time here in Aotearoa NZ, but we either go camping or rent out Dept of Conservation huts (which are more like houses and often have fireplaces which is even better). We’ve gone to so many now, that it’s weird to think our younger kids were only one and are now 6. It is our absolute favourite, so much food, board games, kids running wild, often no reception so no phones, swimming, late nights. And we’ve got one this weekend on a farm with a pizza oven, it’s the good life, truly.

  2. Katrin says...

    It all sounded so relaxed, but it would never be so chill if we tried to emulate this, and that‘s because – our kids and their would NEVER go to bed at 8:30 p.m. if they‘re having guests for a sleepover! I gasped when I read this! Did they really go to bed and stay there at this godly hour? How is that possible? Please enlighten us;-)!

    • Katrin says...

      I meant „and their friends“, of course! Sorry for the typo!

  3. Chelsea says...

    My best friend from growing up, who is like a sister to me, lives an hour away so when we see each other we often have a sleepover. Sometimes at their house, sometimes at ours. It’s so fun. We usually get together around 3 or 4, take a walk, then have dinner. At their house the grownups have a fire in the fireplace and usually take a late night hot tub after the kids are sleeping. At our house we’ll have a fire outside. The kids always have a blast and in the morning we have a group breakfast like pancakes or bagels and lox then we head home.

  4. Meagan says...

    We love playing Pandemic. It’s a cooperative game so it’s really fun to work together to “save” the world.

  5. Liz says...

    We had a family sleep over, (me, my husband, 2 kids, they’re family my with 3 kids, and their nanny), when a big tropical storm (almost hurricane) went through our area in Florida a few years ago. (There house was on high ground and ours was only 5 ft above sea level) It was great fun. 24hrs of games, movies, food, taking, some sleep. In the end our house didn’t get flooded, and we switched houses for dinner of pizza and to check out the storm damage at our local beach.

  6. amy says...

    i am with you! wish i could be so easy going and enjoy something like this but pretty please let me sleep in my own bed at the end of the night!

  7. MMD says...

    I love Anton in his little ski sweater.

  8. Frieda says...

    Oh Joana, what a great idea! I’m currently at the point of life were me and most of my friends finnish studying and start to earn money. And somehow all these imperfect activities like cooking dinner together in way to small kitchens with imperfect ovens and everyone using different cuttlery, inviting guests for game nights on the bed (cause the student room is so small it only matches a bed and nothing else :D) and sleep over parties were four people share a bed and the rest sleeps on air matresses got really rare. But your post brings hope that after a period of getting used to the new, improved lifestyle aka living in rooms larger than a wardrobe, we will find a new way to implement this cozier activities in our lives.

  9. Olivia says...

    Am I the only person who thinks this is my nightmare? 😂

    Hate sleeping at other peoples’ homes and would hate having someone sleep at my house. Our parties need an end time. BUT for people who are more low key this sounds so much fun and I can appreciate it on their behalf

    • Liz says...

      You’re not alone! Just the thought of this fills me with horror! It’s a lovely idea, but not for me at all!

    • Cate says...

      same, one of my favorite parts of a party is when everyone goes home! Also I love sleeping in my own bed, so would rather a long drive home than have to stay over somewhere else. But glad it sounds fun to someone :)

  10. em says...

    what a sweet idea!

    also- can you give details about those shutters?! were they custom made? i’d love some more privacy but don’t want to buy curtains or blinds for one of our windows

  11. Julie says...

    We have been doing family sleepovers with our best friends and their two boys for about 3 years…meeting up about every 6 weeks.They are AWESOME! Kids are entertained, we all catch up, no one has to drive home for bedtime, and when the kids go to bed we play cards or board games! They have kept our friendship tight and current when finding a time to have a good hangout can be tough!

  12. Laura says...

    Hey Joanna – please please please offer a tour / closeup of your gallery wall and some real talk on how you pulled it off (because aren’t these those “someday I will do…” projects with a huge hump to get over to actually do?!). I admire these everywhere else but somehow feel convinced I don’t have the right photos OR that it’s a big all or nothing project I don’t have time for. Please explain.

  13. Amber says...

    I love the Spirit Island game and 7 Wonders. We are huge board game addicts. This is a lovely idea! We’ll have to try it out.

  14. Kristin says...

    Yes, we do it every NYE with two other families (9 kids ranging from Age 13 to 6!) and we switch off houses each year. We are all college friends who live a couple of hours away from each other. It’s the best! We also try to do one summer trip with these families every year too. Usually it’s a long weekend somewhere on Lake Michigan, but this last summer we rented a house in Mexico for a week! Honestly, the best way to travel with kids ever. Built in playmates, a pool, and lots of drinks for the parents. :)

  15. KL says...

    my gosh how time flies!!!! from young lovebirds to seasoned parents. oh life!

  16. Becca says...

    Family sleepovers are our go-to! My best friends from college married each other and we were three buddies, then my husband joined, and then 2 kids each for a grand total of 8. It’s the only way the adults can actually talk and drink wine and catch up and it’s so fun and festive. We do them basically monthly, rotating houses. Pro tip – this is the BEST WAY to celebrate NYE as a family without sacrificing adult fun. We’re 7 years strong and counting. My sister always teases me and calls these sleepovers our “key parties” hahaha.

  17. Mel says...

    3 years ago our closest couple friends had a little girl 3 weeks after we had ours. We decided to celebrate NYE together with a sleepover at our house. Our girls were 2 and 3 months old, barely sleeping at night so why not commiserate together? My husband made a wonderful dinner, we had a glass or two of well-timed champagne while the men took down whiskey and we watched TV, and just relaxed in jammies. We now do it every year. Our girls are 3 now and the cutest of friends. Some years other couples have joined for the 6-12 portion before cabbing home. Then in the morning our friends make a big breakfast and we have bloodies, coffee, cinnamon rolls, and egg bake and hang out til noon. It’s become one of my favorite traditions of the year.

  18. Rose says...

    We’ve had several family sleepovers with some of our friends with kids. We live about 40 minutes apart. Everybody gets to be comfy in pajamas, kids can run around and conk out whenever they’re ready, and then we get to have extended adult time- a rarity in toddler-world! The best part? Waking up and having a pancake party in the morning (with lots of coffee, of course!). It’s so low-key, and way less expensive than two families hiring a sitter.

  19. KL says...

    We do it all the time! I’ve been best friends with two fantastic ladies since college (when our sleepovers were always called School Night Sleep Overs). After, we all lived together for a while then split off to different sections of Boston when we met significant others. But we always had our sleepovers! Even with the boyfriends! Fast forward 10 years, three marriages, four kids, and all of us living in different places. Our husbands are best friends, we’ve stayed best friends, and since it’s a little bit of a haul to get to each other, every get together is a sleep over! There’s no one I’d rather have see me in my curly hair bedhead than my best friends <3

  20. Abigail R. Jacob says...

    That sounds like so much fun, and nights like that are why I insist on keeping a sleeper sofa rather than a regular sofa. We don’t use it as often as I’d like, but mainly because our city is smaller and the commute is much less than Brooklyn-Queens, so most folks just go home.

    But we love game night! Try out Secret Hilter for adults, and Tsuro for a game that both kids and adults can play and enjoy!

  21. Danielle M Breen says...

    We do this (or mean to do this) all the time, it’s the best, especially when our 2.5 year old wakes up saying “(Insert Friends Name) where are you???” and they get to see each other again first thing in the morning. It was (along with hosting family) one of the main reasons we did a loft extension. My only requirement for it is no fuss, invite people over and just make whatever you normally would for dinner/breakfast. They’re just happy to see you, and as a result you do it more often.

  22. Maggie says...

    We do this for New Year Eve – we live in the burbs and take our kids to our friends’ house in the city – their nanny watches all of the kids and the parents go out, then we all crawl to “brunch” with the kids (at like 7:30am) New Year’s Day. So we’re still paying for a sitter but it’s more fun for the kids and we don’t have to schlep back to the burbs that night!

  23. I guaranty these kids play cards better than me

  24. heidi says...

    We love the games Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert. I think there are other ones too. It’s great because they are collaborative with everyone working together to escape the Island or Desert. Another one my kids love is Sleeping Queens – maybe not for fun game night but a great quick card game to play.

  25. Claire R says...

    My folks used to do this when we were kids and it one of my favorite memories. Always so much fun to wake up and know that our cousins or friends would still be there! Like Christmas but without the stress.

  26. Elizabeth says...

    Our neighbors have become great friends of ours since moving to DC. We always want to keep hanging out after the kids go to bed, but babysitters add up! Our new Friday tradition is to put the kids to bed and then do a swap…I’ll go down the block to drink wine with my girlfriend, while her husband heads up the hill to enjoy whiskey at my house. Such a fun way to end the week, be social and save money on babysitters!

  27. Coup is really fun, it’s by the same people who did The Resistance and you can play it with way less players (buy the expansion pack too for more fun). I also like Organ Attack, Spyfall, Codenames and Funemployment.

  28. Sounds good in theory but ends up in a bad night of sleep for the grownups not sleeping at home lol 😂

  29. Kathy says...

    I agree with everyone recommending Codenames!! Best game ever- also anomia and Monikers. Monikers has everyone in stitches every time. Great party game.

  30. Lisa says...

    We kind of did it when our son was 10 months old. We were going on holiday to South Africa for nearly a month, and had sublet our flat, and for reasons my husband never explained, starting two days before we went on holiday. So, we went to stay for two nights at our friends’ flat. Their one bedroom flat, and they had a three month old baby. It actually turned out to be quite fun, as they had only recently moved back, so it was a really intense way to catch up. The only problem is that they have the world’s most uncomfortable sofa bed. We had friends come around to visit in the early evening recently, and our toddler really really wanted them to stay with us

  31. Sarah T says...

    I love this! My fiancé and I live about 40 minutes west of Denver in the foothills and most of our friends live in Denver. We love to have them up for friend sleepovers since going out to dinner or to a movie becomes a really long night. When they come up, they bring their doggies and we all play board games and relax! :)

  32. Hali says...

    I love this so so so much! We have game night sleepovers a few times a year with our friends- initially the slumber party allowed us to drink without worry but now most of us don’t even drink much, we’re all about eating showy breakfast spreads in pajamas.

    Half of my friends love intricate table games with rules and strategy and the other love silly party games. We almost always end up playing Salad Bowl for good measure and have recently become obsessed with the *secret* fourth level: ghost level! Next time you play Salad Bowl, add a fourth round that is exactly the same as the third, except the charades are performed underneath a big bed sheet. It’s so ridiculous and funny.

    • Fay says...

      Omg, Hali! This fourth round is a game changer! We’ve been playing Salad Bowl for nearly a decade on friend trips, and I’ve never heard of this! Awesome. Thanks for sharing!

    • Alice says...

      Oh my god the ghost level sounds phenomenal and I’m SO doing that at Christmas!!!!

    • Anu says...

      Ah i thought we were the only ones that did the “secret” fourth level-we call it the sheet charades.

  33. eamatz says...

    Growing up in a military family- my dad was TDY a lot. So back in the 70s and 80s often times my mom and her best friend (who’s husband was TDY with my dad) would schlep all 8 of us kids (4 in our family, 4 in theirs) back and forth between houses multiple times of week for dinner & sleepovers. The kids would do homework and watch dukes of hazzard and the moms would make sloppy joes (always sloppy joes) and then after the last of us went to sleep-The moms would start sewing curtains, painting the house, hanging wallpaper-doing all the things to make the temporary home a real home…they would switch us back and forth between houses depending on the project. The dads would always come home to something new!
    This summer we had a huge ‘family reunion’. In the past 40 yrs our group of 12 has grown to 36, but those sleepovers are the best memories we all have! And the stories- what we did when the dads were gone…the moms still ‘shush’ us…to not spill the secrets

    • hali says...

      sounds like a movie!! so sweet!!

    • Pamela says...

      This is so lovely!

    • Renee says...

      Absolutely love this story!

  34. Amy Thiessen says...

    We do this pretty often with our friends and family…it does make something simple seem more like an event. We love it!

  35. C says...

    We love family sleepovers! Years ago when we moved into our house, we started a tradition of some of our best friends (from in town) spending the weekend at our place- we jokingly refer to it as the ‘F.I.R.P.’ (Friend in Residence Program). Now that we have kids, I love our FIRP weekends even more! Life is chaotic, so it’s so luxurious to be able to catch up with a friend over multiple meals, wine and board games, and to see our kids bond with the people in our lives who are as important as family.

  36. We’ve recently got into Dixit and the kids are surprisingly really good at it. Though my 5yo at first didn’t quite get it… “A candle is bleeding!” But now they amaze me with their creativity. So good.

  37. Shauna says...

    I LOVE games. One that is great and your boys might be into soon is Survive: Escape from Atlantis. It is for 8+years old but i suspect a 7 year old would be able to play too. There are sharks, whales, a Loch Ness monster… I think it is really fun.

    Concept is another neat game for adults or for families and you can keep score or you can all work together.

    I saw someone else already mentioned Code Names and I second that one too.

    (My husband and I play a LOT of games… we have been together for 7 years and bought our first TV a few months ago – all our evening time went to playing games because we liked that more. Board Game Geek is a great website with descriptions, reviews, and categories you can search if you are looking for more games.)

    • Anonygirl says...

      I love this!

  38. Amy says...

    I guess we do this all the time with visiting family; my husband has three siblings out of town and they all have kids the same age as ours. But it’s never occurred to me to do this with friends for some reason! Thanks for the idea; I have no idea if they’d be game but it sounds fun!

  39. Saba says...

    I love this. You always share the best ideas.

    As for game recs, we love Game of Things and Telestrations. They’re so versatile that they work for our large family, from kids to family members that don’t speak English as their primary language. Also the party game “fishbowl,” which just requires some paper and a pen.

  40. Marilyn says...

    When our boys and our close friends sons were young, we spent every New Year’s Eve, rotating sleepovers. We also started the evening in an activity, such as tobogganing or skating and coming back to the host home for kids dinner, chaos and fun. After the four kids went to bed we’d have an appetizer laden dinner, champagne all evening long and craziness at midnight.
    I have such warm memories of these evenings and the cozy next morning breakfasts.

  41. jen says...

    Yes, we’ve done this! It’s so much fun and so memorable for the kids!

  42. Kristin says...

    We are going 10 years strong on a few nights of a family sleepover in a cabin over NYE! We always end the year on a high note with friends after the chaos of the holidays.

  43. Juliet says...

    If you like low-key party games, try telestrations and snake oil. Telestrations is basically chinese whispers with doodles while snake oil has you try to give the best sales pitch for an absurd product. Other fun games for those good with words and spelling are bananagrams and wordsy.

  44. Hilary says...

    We did a family sleepover on NYE with our best friends because babysitters ARE expensive, especially on a holiday like New Year’s Eve! We have five kids between our two families, ages 7 to 1.5. We fed them pizza and sparkling grape juice, wore silly 2019 hats, let them play a few minutes of “Guitar Hero” (highly recommend for the hilarity factor), and put them to bed SO LATE (like, 9 PM). :) Then the grown-ups ate fancy cheese and charcuterie and sushi, drank champagne, and played Trivial Pursuit. We saw midnight (in our sweats) and ambled off to bed. The next morning, the kids were STOKED to be waking up all in the same house (MINDS BLOWN!). Our family sleepover had a high return on investment: It wasn’t not expensive (compared to a night out) and required minimal effort, but it was hugely fun and produced great memories!

  45. Allyson says...

    We are planning to do this with our closest couple friends and their toddler! We bought an old house about 40 minutes from their house and they brought up the idea as a joke (like our house is a BnB getaway!) but we all agreed. My husband and I put the majority of our new-homeowner energy into sprucing up the guest room for family & friends!

  46. Jen says...

    We do this occasionally and love it. Sometimes the adults go out after the kids are in bed and have cocktails by the fire pit. Sometimes we “backyard camp.” I still remember how delighted my older son was when he was 3 and his older friend came into bed where I was brushing his teeth and offered to brush his hair. He loved being doted on by her :)

  47. Angela Zito says...

    Need information about velvet couch, please!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      It’s from article xoxo

  48. Amanda says...

    Absolutely and we do regularly with a couple of friends. We used to live far apart. We now live close enough, though both in Switzerland when previously in California (neighbors at the start of the friendship) then California/Chicago), that we could drive the hour or so home but staying over means kids get a sleepover and we get a night drinking wine and talking. Highly recommend air mattresses and kids piled into one room for even more sleepover feel!

  49. Sarah says...

    Looking up the resistance now & the box says 5-10 players. Does it work with 4? Looks fun!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we played with five players (my mom was in town, as well) — you’d need more than four for it to work because of the bluffing aspect! it’s really fun!

  50. A says...

    I love this idea. We had planned to do this over the summer with in-laws and cousins but due to conflicting schedules it never happened. We might have to organise over Christmas! That will kick my guest room tidy-up into gear at last!

  51. Mary says...

    This is such a fun idea! Makes perfect sense. Are you wearing a pajama top in the last photo? :)

    Just curious, and I don’t mean to sound critical – but isn’t your apartment large enough that no one need sleep on the couch? I guess what I mean to say is…I hope you don’t feel the need to downplay your success or the size of your home because of what others might say/think. It’s a lovely home and if it has enough bedrooms to sleep 8, that’s great!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      my mom was in town, too, so we overflowed the beds :) but thank you for your really lovely message! and i’m wearing an pajama top from eberjey in the last photo, they’re the softest/silkiest.

  52. Annelies says...

    If you like Dixit and The Resistance, you might enjoy Codenames as well. We have both versions (with words and with images) and they combine the excitement of The Resistance with the creative thinking of Dixit!
    (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/178900/codenames)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you!!

    • Amy says...

      Yes to Codenames! But the word version is better than the picture version, in my opinion.

    • Kim says...

      We love codenames as well!!

  53. Turtle says...

    What a sweet idea for building friendships! Sounds like so much fun- a chance to be kid grown-ups, sort of? Since you asked about games, our current favorite is Pandemic. It sounds darker than it is, with its theme of a global pandemic, but it’s really a fun and compelling game for grown-ups and older kids. It is cooperative and at the end of the game either everyone wins or no one wins. Feels like something we all need to realize about real life these days, right?

    • Bobby says...

      I just bought that to play with my nieces!

  54. Elisabeth says...

    My friends and I played the game “Anomia” at a recent game night. There’s a version for ages 10 & up, and then there’s also an adult’s version of the game!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oooh looks really fun!

    • Kirsten says...

      Oh man, we got that last Christmas and it was so fun and hilarious. Even my game-hating dad loved it!

  55. One of my best friends lives about an hour away with her husband and 2 daughters. About 3 times a year, I go visit them and stay for 1 or 2 nights. It’s fun to be around the kids and they get extra attention and manicures. And then I go home and decompress a bit ;) I’m actually visiting after Thanksgiving!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds really fun!

  56. Charlotte K says...

    This reminds me of when the cousins would come. Some nights with us, some with our grandparents. Lots of porch sitting and game playing. Great idea!!

  57. celeste says...

    This is basically every holiday at my husband’s. My MIL would be furious if we stayed at a hotel. I love him dearly, so… (Also, actually having kids asleep at 8:30 p.m. you all are the stuff of legends! We’ve never been able to do before midnight.)

    • justine says...

      I agree! 8:30!!!! Stuff of legends, indeed. #goals

    • Kristen says...

      Yes! How do you get 4 excited kids to sleep at 8:30? Seriously, I want to know tricks. Ours are getting warmed up for a long night if partying ahead at that time.

    • Kelly says...

      agree! it’s such a fun concept but my kids don’t sleep well when they have kid guests in the house (won’t go to sleep and wake up far too early)…so it doesn’t feel like we really get any adult time and then kiddos are a basket case the next day…

  58. Colleen says...

    Yes! We do that with a beloved friend and her daughter. It is THE BEST. We each have one daughter who are two years apart and have a fantastic time. So fun to have a friend outside their usual circle. When we are at their house my husband brings his tools and does some home repairs and we all drink a ton of tea and chat up a storm.

    • Monica says...

      Gosh- the part about the husband and tools and hone repairs. My hearts all warm and squishy right now😍

  59. Family sleepovers are the best! My brother and I used to have “sleepovers” in the living room. We’d be up all night playing various games, building forts, etc.

  60. Kathy says...

    Yes! We do this frequently with our best college friends. It was fun in our 20s without kids and its even more fun (well, a different kind of fun) with our combined six children!

  61. JenJen says...

    We do this all the time! My brother has 3 kids and a 5 bed house, and we love taking our boy to stay there. To add to the chaos, our mum usually comes over as well which means all the kids pile in to see her first thing in the morning so we parents get a lie in! It’s the best thing, all that chilling out and just spending time in different combos that you don’t get at other times. We’re doing it again at Christmas, can’t wait!

  62. Jennifer says...

    We frequently have family friends stay with us. It takes off the pressure of driving, or assigning a DD, and the kids have so much fun (usually very independent of the adults!). It also has become so frequent our friends pitch in with cleaning up, and now know how to empty the dishwasher (putting away everything correctly) and buying us kitchen utensils they prefer to have on hand for future sleepovers!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, i was amazed by how the kids played independently! we even played some grown-up games on sunday morning when they were awake. it all worked out much more seamlessly than i had expected (which is rarely the case with parenting, haha!)

  63. A says...

    We have great friends who we do sleepovers with about 4 times a year. We started this because we live about an hour away from each other and by the time you do dinner and catch up it seems like it’s time to go. Especially when the kids are little and need to go to bed. So now they come on a Saturday around 3pm and the kids play and we catch up. Dinner around 6:30. Kids then watch a movie and then off to bed. We play games such as Ticket to Ride, Cards Against Humanity and Catch Phrase. We make breakfast in the morning and then leave by 11am. So much fun and no stress!!

  64. Amy says...

    Love the idea! Can you share how you prepped all the kids so this would be successful? I have a hard enough time getting them to go to bed, let alone with others over or at another house!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      all the kids were already exhausted from a busy day, so they passed out around 8:30pm. i also think it was key that they arrived at 6:30, so there was enough time to play and get their excitement out before bedtime.

  65. Emily says...

    My family used to do this all the time, though never with guests from in the same city! We had family friends coming through often. Adults would sleep on an air mattress in our living room — my mom would tiptoe through in the morning to make coffee — and kids were distributed into our bedrooms. We’d have dinner, play boardgames, and often go for a walk or beach visit the next day. Lots of fun– and makes you enjoy having your house back when everyone leaves!

  66. Clarissa Ghazi says...

    Sounds like so much fun! Joanna, I love your rug- where is it from please?

    • Clarissa Ghazi says...

      Thank you so much! It’s lovely!

  67. Ruth says...

    I LOVE this idea!!! Would totally do this.