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3 ways to throw the best sleepover

Your kids are going to love these parties.

Sleepovers are a summertime staple. Sure, ordering a pizza and renting a movie are classics, but you can step up your game with these three themed sleepover parties that only take a little extra effort.

Have a backyard tent party

Throwing a tent party is a great way to keep older kids entertained while still giving them a little freedom. Get the group together and have them help you set up a tent in the backyard to "camp" in overnight. Setting it up is a fun activity that's always a hit, but even better, the party mess and noise is contained outside, which is great if you have a baby in the house who needs rest.

tent party

My kids love campout sleepovers.

Alina Bradford/CNET

If you don't have a backyard, set up a tent in the living room or family room. Tent parties are one of my kid's favorites and my youngest still has this type of slumber party at least once a year.

Add a little innovation to party by projecting movies on the tent walls for late-night entertainment. If you don't already have a projector, I recommend using the Cinemood projector. It has preloaded Disney movies and you can stream Netflix movies and shows, so the kids won't run out of things to watch. On top of all that, it's easy to use.

Be sure to set aside a time for s'mores cooked over a fire pit or the grill, and ghost stories to complete the camping theme.

Pro tip: If the walls of your tent aren't working as a projection screen, safety pin a white sheet to the tent to make a screen in a snap.

Make it a cinema night

If your kid absolutely adores movies, then maybe a cinema night would be a good sleepover option. Jump on to your Netflix account and create a new profile just for the occasion by clicking Manage Profiles > Add Profile. Under Allowed TV shows and movies, choose the appropriate age range for the group to keep the kids from sneaking shows they shouldn't watch, then click Save.

netflix

Set up a profile for the party.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Now, let your kid load up My List with movies. The sleepover friends can vote on which movie to watch first from the list. Add candy and popcorn to make the night complete.

Star night

Another fun sleepover idea is a star party, where kids can dress up and feel fabulous. Grab a laundry basket full of some fun dress up clothes like feather boas, top hats, sunglasses, funny outfits and props gathered from the thrift store or party supply shop. Then, make the night complete with a photo booth. Don't worry, my version is super simple to set up.

In a corner of the room, hang a sheet or a colorful tapestry on the walls using thumbtacks. Be sure to hang it high enough that the edges won't be in the photos. Then safety pin balloons, streamers, glittery stars or other decorations to the sheets. 

photo-booth

I arranged the photos in a line using my photo editor, printed them and cut them out in strips for the guests.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Finally, you need a camera. You can play photographer all night with your DSLR or even smartphone, but you can also hand over the reins to the kids. If you don't want them to play with your expensive camera, stock up on disposable cameras or invest in a kid's camera that can be used over and over. An inexpensive, durable, easy-to-use option is the BiBene Kids Digital Camera. For older kids, the Pellor Waterproof Sport Action Camera is a good choice. It's waterproof and also records video.

The great thing about choosing a digital camera instead of disposable is you can take out the SD card, pop it into your laptop and print out the photos so everyone has a souvenir to take home.

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