On my 11th birthday, my parents allowed me to have my first sleepover. I was unbelievably excited. I have an older sister and I used to always try and take part in her sleepovers. She didn’t let me because I was her sister. Her younger sister. And not cool. I was jealous; she was older and got to do everything first. But on my 11th birthday, it was finally my turn.

The first sleepover is always the best

This first sleepover involved eating sweets, watching Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and playing Atmosfear dozens of times (excessive I know but, man, we were oddly obsessed with The Gatekeeper). We were up all night and it was worth it; it was one of my best birthdays ever.

There were plenty more sleepovers after that where we progressed to takeaways, horror films and playing pranks on each other. Then we got older and the sleepovers involved alcohol, talking about boys and hanging out at the local park. We changed. The sleepovers changed. Then suddenly nobody had sleepovers anymore. The closest you’d get was crashing on a friend’s sofa after a messy night out.

Growing up is overrated

I don’t know if I’m alone in this but I miss being a kid and having sleepovers that involved playing board games and watching cartoons and eating jelly worms. Sleepovers before boys and booze and bad heads the next morning.

So I’ve decided that you’re never too old to relive your youth and have come up with 7 steps to having an old-fashioned sleepover:

1. The invitation list needs to be spot on: Apologise to the men in your life but they need to steer clear. Invite your best friend; the one who you know can survive a night without Netflix and wine. Take a chance and invite a relatively new friend who has secret skills at Twister. And definitely invite the girl in your life who actually went to 11-year-old sleepovers with you – I guarantee she will up your game.

2. Playing board games is essential: Dig in the back of your cupboard or head to a local jumble sale because you can’t play any old board game (Monopoly, Cluedo and Scrabble are banned). Get your hands on Twister, Girl Talk, Dreamphone, Game of Life or Atmosfear (may need a VHS player – even more retro). You will have a blast and possibly scary yourselves silly.

Never throw away the classics
Never throw away the classics

3. Deciding what to wear: Only pyjamas are allowed. And to be clear, I mean fleecy, full length and covered in cows or stars or My Little Pony. You’re not going for style here. This is all about comfort, elastic waistbands and feeling snuggly. Extra points for slipper socks with paw print grips on the bottom.

4. There are strict rules on food and drink: If it makes your teeth rot or your stomach ache, it’s a winner. Strictly no alcohol is allowed and water is boring so stick to fizzy pop and chocolate milk and you should only eat items that are ready made or require minimal cooking – pizza, popcorn, chocolate, pop tarts, crisps and jelly worms are essentials.

Minimal cooking, maximum taste
Minimal cooking, maximum taste

5. Giving each other a makeover is always a highlight: None of us had a clue about makeup in our younger years and applied anything and everything with aplomb so this is the time to dig out the orange nail polish, blue eye shadow and the crimpers. Anything and everything goes – the bigger, brighter and scarier the better.

6. Watching films with your friends is a favourite pastime: We’re talking early Disney (before Pixar got their hands on it), kid’s films (anything when Lindsay Lohan was cool should do), PG/12A rated horror (Jaws, The Woman in Black, The Sixth Sense, etc.) and you can’t go wrong with a bit of rom-com.

A mix of genres should please everyone
A mix of genres should please everyone

7. The most important step of all: No mobile phones allowed. No iPads, iPods, nothing beginning with an ‘i’. Only disposable cameras allowed (remember how much fun they are?!) and dig out your ghetto blaster. Note: I will allow smart TVs but no using the internet; that would be cheating.

Follow these steps and you got yourself an old-fashioned sleepover. Have fun, enjoy and if you’re low on numbers…send me an invite.

What else do you think is essential for an old-fashioned sleepover?

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