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20 Tips for a Successful Slumber Party Without Committing Suicide or Homicide

Growing up, my sisters and I seemed to celebrate every holiday, birthday and end of the school year with a slumber party. We invited all the cousins and then we could each invite another friend, which added up to about a dozen dozing bodies plastered across the living room floor and an honorary Sainthood nomination for my mom.

The slumber party for my 9th birthday. Notice my brother Michael hamming it up in the middle.

My daughters started having their own slumber parties over ten years ago when Emily was in kindergarten. But it’s my 11-year old Mary who has turned our slumber parties into the Valley Village equivalent of an Oscar party, with nearly 20 girls participating. Whether her friends are playing toilet paper bride (where the girls split up into groups and create the most elaborate wedding gown out of toilet paper), piggly wiggly (a game where you try to guess who’s hiding in which sleeping bag) or Chubby Bunny (where you cram as many marshmallows into your mouth as possible at one time and still audibly utter the words “Chubby Bunny” without choking or vomiting), Mary and her friends have just celebrated their eighth year of slumber party gatherings, and the events keep rising to new heights.

Last Saturday night we had 17 middle school girls and one boy over for a Colfax reunion slumber party (the lone boy did not sleep over), and Emily had an additional two high school girls in her room. Because I’ve been doing this for a number of years, I decided to compile a list for the parents who are slumber party novices in the hopes that one day, they too will become as demented as I am.

20 Tips for a Successful Slumber Party Without Committing Suicide or Homicide

1. Know your limits. Just because your daughter’s friend’s super soccer mom can wrangle two dozen girls at a time, it doesn’t mean you can do it without turning into a psycho killer. Start out easy – perhaps three to five girls at a time and build from that.

2. Unless you can invite every single girl in the group, keep the slumber party on the QT. As an adult, it’s devastating to find out that everyone was invited to a party but you. It’s ten times as devastating for a tween. Tell the girls not to talk about the party beforehand. With Facebook and Twitter, everyone will know afterwards, but then they’ll have a couple extra days to try and grow a thicker skin.

3. Warn neighbors in advance that you’ll be having a slumber party. Tell them that the karaoke contest will end by 10:00 pm and stick to it. Unless it’s a particularly quiet group, don’t host a slumber party in a backyard tent unless you want to be treated to a late night visit from your local police.

4. Audition potential slumber party guests with a short play date in advance and then don’t invite anyone who is high maintenance. This means anyone who is rude, a picky eater, a whiner, a crier, a tattler, or a girl who always complains about a tummy ache.

5. Announce the rules in advance and repeat them as needed: Be nice. No one gets left out. For hide and seek, the garage and refrigerator are off limits. Anyone who uses the “B” Word (bored) gets to scrub my toilet. Then we’ll see how bored they are. No drawing on each other’s faces with a sharpie while they’re sleeping or putting their hands in warm water to try to get them to pee, or sticking their bra in the freezer (yes – I did it all as a kid so I know everyone’s tricks).

6. Make sure to have a phone number where parents can be reached at all times and tell them to keep their phone on. Have them set it on vibrate if they’re on a date night at the movies. Warn them in advance that if their little darling becomes too high maintenance, they will receive a call at any moment for them to come and pick her up – even if it is 4 in the morning. Most parents will laugh and think you’re kidding. Make sure they know that you’re not. I once had three parents drive up to my house at midnight because their kids were convinced that a slumber party meant that they were staying up all night. I let them know that they were welcome to stay up all night – in their own beds.

7. Keep the food cheap and simple.Uncooked pepperoni pizza from Costco is best. Pop it in your oven, and slice it into small pieces. When it’s halfway gone get a show of hands as to how many more pieces the girls will be eating and pop another in the oven. Tell the vegetarians to pick off the pepperoni. Ask anyone with a food allergy to bring their own meal and offer to reheat it. The last thing a slumber party mom has time for is acting as a short order cook. Serve grapes, cut up a watermelon and serve make-your-own sundaes with toppings prepared in advance in paper cups. For breakfast, slice Costco muffins into quarters or heat up Poptarts.  For our party we paraded down the street to Yum Yum Donuts the next morning and every girl ordered her choice of donut.

Slumber party aftermath – a trip to Yum Yum Donuts.

8. Make the girls clean up their own messes. Just because you’re not their short order cook, it doesn’t mean that you want to be their maid. This means clearing their food after meals, hanging up wet suit and towels if they’re swimming, and not spreading their bags all over the floor.

9. Use disposable plates, cups, napkins and utensils. I know it adds to my carbon footprint, but it seems like the better alternative to wasting 5,000 gallons of water in the dishwasher and risking all my dishes being broken.  Label drink cups with girls’ names and keep all drinks outside or in the kitchen. Otherwise you’re liable to have apple juice poured in a sleeping bag and ants you’ll never get rid of.

10. Don’t serve sodas. There’s no nutritional value, you’ll have a lot of half-filled cups floating around, and for large slumber parties, caffeine is only your friend if it’s in your body. I prepare a 5-gallon jug of Crystal Light punch and have a gallon of juice and milk available. Or they can always drink water.

11. Get used to the noise. The larger the party, the bigger the wall of sound. The girls are having a good time, and unless you hear the cries of actual pain, you might as well accept that it’s going to be noisy. Think about wearing earplugs. And stocking up on Advil.

12. No cell phones. Girls don’t need to be texting other friends about what they’re not doing with these friends because they’re too busy texting. They can post an occasional photo to Facebook, but if a girl has her face glued to her iPhone, take it away until morning. If she refuses, see Rules #5 and #6.

13. Have some inexpensive activities in mind to keep the girls occupied: karaoke with a bunch of Glee DVDs; hide and seek; a board game like Apples to Apples; watching a recently released or classic movie. The very best is to have a pool. If you have a house and host a lot of slumber parties like we do, it might be worth it to invest in an above-ground pool.  After just two summers it ends up being a lot cheaper than paying for a laser tag or theme park party every year.

14. Rearrange the furniture so the girls can sleep on rugs in the middle of the living room. If they start fighting over who gets to sleep on the couch, give it to the girl who is most low maintenance.

15. Give a countdown to lights out time. Tell the girls put on their pajamas, lay out their sleeping bags, pillows, and brush their teeth at least a half hour beforehand. Five minutes before, let them have a drink of water, but keep the water in the kitchen. Then turn out the lights and let them get settled. If anyone is afraid of the dark, keep a light on in another room for a few minutes, then turn it out once they’re asleep.

16. After two warnings to be quiet, grab a pillow and blanket and go sleep with the girls. The last thing a chatty girl wants is for a mom to be overhearing what she’s ranting about. However, once they start hitting the tween years, let them stay up as late as they want – with a warning to both them and their parents: their mood the next day will worsen in proportion to how late they stayed up.

17. In the morning, have girls put everything that’s theirs into their own pile in a corner or against the wall. Anything left over on the floor needs to be put away. Not by you.

18. About 20 minutes before pick up, search the house and yard for anything that doesn’t look familiar. Set it in the center of the room and make sure everything goes away. If you find something unfamiliar after the party’s over, take a picture of it, or rather them – despite your best efforts, you’re sure to have a lot of lost & found items. Send one email to all the parents and attach the photo.

19. Make sure your kid does the clean up after the party. If she’s reluctant, let her know that it’s the last slumber party she’ll ever have. And stick to it. You may end up really crossing your fingers that she refuses and you never have to go through this again.

20. Keep this list where you can find it easily for the next party. Unless your daughter doesn’t follow rule #19. Then you can chuck it along with the rest of the mess you’ll be cleaning up.

Your daughter is young for such a short period of time. A slumber party is a great way to share lifetime memories, develop deeper friendships, and earn the gratitude and admiration of all the other parents who are much too sane to venture into such lunacy.

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20 Predictions for Season 2 of “Once Upon a Time”

The networks’ fall lineup has just been announced, and it was no surprise to anyone that Once Upon a Time, this year’s #1 new drama, has been picked up for Season 2.

In this week’s season finale, all the townspeople of Storybrooke have just been struck by a virtual bolt of lightning and now remember who they truly are – Fairy Tale Land characters. Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) has poured true love – the most powerful potion in all the realms – into the magical well that can “return that which is lost.” Suddenly a huge wave of pink smoke reminiscent of something you’d find in a Victoria’s Secret ad starts rolling through Storybrooke, terrifying all the townspeople with the exception of Mayor Regina Mills (The Evil Queen) who slowly starts to smile.

Why is she smiling?

We won’t know that answer until sometime in September when Once Upon a Time returns.

As the dialogue editor of Once Upon a Time, my job is the second to the last step before the show airs, so I am definitely not privy to the story lines that are created by the above-the-line mucky mucks many months before. However, being a huge big fan of the show, I enjoy speculating what might happen during Season 2.

Here are my predictions:

Regina Mills – Mayor of Storybrooke

1. In the Season 2 opener, we find that Regina (The Evil Queen) now inhabits the body of Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase CEO and Chairman of the Board, who received a $23 million pay package, lost $2 billion and still remains untouchable. (Isn’t it amazing when truth is stranger than fiction?).

Jamie Dimon – King of JPMorgan Chase

2. Mr. Gold’s (Rumplestiltskin) gets his wish to have his son Baelfire returned to him, prompting his 20-something-year old to live in true present-day style by moving in with his dad and spending his days playing video games, watching raunchy reality shows, and filling Mr. Gold’s home with empty beer cans and Dominoes Pizza boxes.

3. Belle marries Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin), but after a week living with his prodigal slacker son, she hightails it back to the loony bin where she had been imprisoned for the previous 28 years.

4. Mary Margaret (Snow White) and David (Prince Charming) seek relationship advice from therapist Archie (Jiminy Cricket) when she’s laid off from her teaching job due to school budget cuts and he starts bringing home stray mutts and feral cats from his job at the animal shelter.

5. For season 2, Emma finally trades in her boots for some practical running shoes. She also has a fling with Ruby (Red Riding Hood) and Once Upon a Time’s ratings explode with a loyal lesbian fan base.

6. Real life actor Jared Gilmore (Henry) has a growth spurt over the summer and his voice changes. In an effort to keep him short and cute, he is recast and replaced by one of the background dwarfs.

7. August Wayne Booth (grown Pinocchio) is reanimated as a real man with the exception of one body part that makes him very popular with the small town girls. I’ll give you a hint on that particular body part: his new nickname is “Woody.”

8. Storybrooke therapist Archie Hopper (Jiminy Cricket) vanishes into thin air when Regina (The Evil Queen) returns to Fairy Tale Land with a can of Raid.

9. Present Day Snow White, Belle, and Cinderella nearly kill each other in a catfight when they are all featured as contestants in Storybrooke’s version of The Bachelor.

10.  After the Blue Fairy has trouble flying due to the excess weight caused by her ginormous boobs, she inhabits her Storybrooke Mother Superior body to have a breast reduction. However, once in Storybrooke, she changes her mind and leaves the convent after realizing that her breast endowment makes her extremely popular among the men in town, most notably the more plentiful than average population of short men in Storybrooke whose faces are directly at eye level with her chest.

11. An evil clown arrives in Storybrooke, forces Granny out of her diner and installs a pair of Golden Arches over the entrance.

12. We find out how Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) got his limp. As OUAT fans know, Rumplestiltskin’s favorite line is “All magic comes with a price.” Apparently he tried to sneak into a David Copperfield show at a Mafia-run night club without paying, and the boss’s thugs broke Mr. Gold’s kneecap. Hence as retribution, Mr. Gold has made himself the Godfather of Storybrooke.

13. Jefferson (The Mad Hatter) gets his tween daughter Grace/Paige back, but returns her to her Storybrooke parents after he’s disgusted to realize that she’s addicted to The Disney Channel and spends all day texting.

14. We find that Dr. Whale is actually Monstro, the giant whale that swallowed Geppetto (Marco) and Pinocchio (August) in Fairy Tale Land.

He starts having regular therapy sessions with Archie (Jiminy Cricket) when it is revealed that after upchucking the old Italian guy and his wooden puppet, Dr. Whale now suffers from bulimia.

15. Kathryn Nolan (Abigail – Prince Charming’s intended wife and his Present Day actual wife) remembers that her true love is Frederick, who is now the Storybrooke High School head coach. She takes a job beside him coaching the Storybrooke cheerleaders who were Fairy Tale Land Fairies, and they all end up in a zany 2013-2014 season spinoff called Once Up On a Grind.

16. In the season finale, when the pink cloud rolls in, former Daily Mirror editor Sidney Glass is reverted to his Fairy Tale form (the Evil Queen’s Mirror). Regina sells him at an auction to the highest bidder – Oprah Winfrey – and Sidney spends his days telling her how thin she is.

17. It is revealed that the Once Upon a Time book was actually penned by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob of Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous fame. When Regina (The Evil Queen) sets out to destroy the true authors, instead of whipping up a sleeping potion, she gives them each a bottle of Colt 45 malt liquor.

18. We find out that Henry’s father is the rabbit from The Tortoise and the Hare.

Like any true rabbit, he reproduced at will, then scurried away as soon as he found out Emma was pregnant. When we meet Baby Daddy sometime in season 4 we’ll know he’s changed because he’ll be bald (hare-less).

19. Leroy (Grumpy) and perpetually-pleasant Sister Astrid (Nova the Fairy)

get married and have a slew of bi-polar children.

20. Love-stuck female fans start an email campaign to return deceased Sheriff Graham (Huntsman) whose heart was ripped out from his chest by Regina (The Evil Queen).

Once Upon a Time’s parent company ABC Television holds a contest offering to bring back the hunky Irishman if 100 fans decide to donate their own body parts to charity.

If you have no clue what I’m talking about, catch “Once Upon a Time” in reruns this summer and you’ll be up to date when the show returns this fall.

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Filed under Humor, Parody, Top 10 List