Morpheus Is Having A Party

helicopter momSo, it looks like slumber parties are quickly becoming a thing of the past for many.  Because of the threat of disastrous social media postings propelled by the poor judgement of children combined with nervous helicopter parents, many families are opting out.

qe1 sleepover

One of the very popular pajama parties at the home of young Queen Elizabeth I.

I discovered this when I decided to write about sleepovers and did some research.  I was looking for the history and origin of the pajama party—did little Mary Todd giggle about log cabin boys and hoop skirts with her girlfriends?  Did Boudicea and her squad paint themselves blue and festoon the local Roman garrison with toilet paper?50s adAs best as I can tell, slumber parties became a mostly American thing after World War II.  Madison Avenue sold the whole “suburban, two kids and a dog, backyard cookouts, summer vacations, car in the garage, wifey in the kitchen” scenario.  Parents who just a few years earlier had learned that life can be changed forever in a moment wanted to live that safe and comfortable ideal.7upPajama parties declared to the world there was enough room, food, and fun to share.  That here was an average middle-class families that belonged.  Just like Donna Reed, Leave It To Beaver, and Ozzie and Harriot; they were neither different nor unconventional.1970s pj partyI grew up going to and throwing slumber parties.  I consider myself somewhat of an authority on the rituals of mid-late 20th century pre-adolescent overnight accommodation festivities.black sheepThe guest list is usually populated from classmates.  But there are always one or two kids that the host knows from scouts, or dance class, or somewhere else.  This child will know no one else and unless of unusually strong personality, feels like a duck at an armadillo farm.sad puppyThere will be a sad sack.  This is a child with little or no sleepover experience who is both timid and quiet.  Often the child’s presence on the guest list is at the mom’s behest and will be cousin, younger neighbor child, or child of a parent’s friend. fancy cheetahThe glamorous child.  This kid is possibly a bit older, but definitely more sophisticated.  In a room of tweens, she will be the only one with a bra and a boyfriend.  Pajamas will be silky rather than snuggly and lip gloss will not be clear.  Almost always gets her own way when she declares something is “lame”.judgy turtleThe suck-up.  This is the same kid that in school reminds the teacher she forgot to assign homework.  This kid is kind of a pill and will strongly object to most of the dares in “Truth or Dare”.  But she will get help if things go south, and her mere attendance will keep the shenanigans from going from mischief territory into felony-ville.kim cryAt least one person will get their feelings hurt and there will be tears—often from the sad sack, but sometimes it will be the young hostess.  Emotions are high at these parties, and the hormones flow like beer at a frat party.  Normally the rest of the invitees will then go into protective mode and tissues, “I love yous”, and promises of undying friendship will abound.sick treeThere’s also a high probability that at least one child will call their parents to be picked up.  Homesickness is the most desirable motivation, but much more likely will be the result of upset tummies and unsightly fluidic eruptions.

The approximate cumulative sleep from an average guest list of six children for the duration of this so-called “slumber” party is a total of 90 minutes.  It is strongly suggested there be multiple adults in the home, and they sleep in shifts—fully clothed.slumber morningThanks for your time.

 

Morpheus Is Cooking!

pajama partySo, despite slumber parties being an endangered species, you’ve lost what was left of your self-protective candy coating, and your cotton-picking mind, and agreed to host a horde of ravenous tween Mongols.

Or, maybe the grand-offspring are coming to stay the night without parents, and you’re eagerly looking forward to tearing up the parents’ list of dos and don’ts in regard to their care and feeding and partying with the progeny.grparentsBut the result is the same: it’s a low-level special occasion, and you need to feed kids.

When The Kid turned sixteen, we rented a really cool venue and threw a bash.  Petey and I wanted to make it special, so I investigated catering.  I discovered that for our budget, it was prohibitively expensive—like bare bones basic ran about $40-50 a head (and this was eleven years ago).caterSo, we decided to self-cater.  I spent months searching for and auditioning recipes.  I finally decided on about six items that were interesting but not too complicated, light and fresh, and could be made ahead and finished on-site.

We also had tubs full of soda and juice on ice, big bowls of different chips, two different desserts, and beach buckets (like the kind kids use to make sand castles) full of various candy bars.candy storeThe kids devoured the soda, chips and candy.  The rest of the food was barely touched.  We gave away as much of the carefully prepared food as we could, but there was still a ton of waste.

After that fiasco my policy for feeding kids in social situations was stacks of pizza with sides of junk food.many pizzasBut I do have a few refinements.

Make your own pizza and personalize it.  By the time you let every kid decide what kind of pizza they want to order they’ll be in graduate school.  Make it at home and have a topping bar.

First check each guest’s dietary restrictions.  You don’t want the little buggers to swell up like a Macy’s parade float.  pizza barFor pizza: buy pre-made dough from a pizza joint, including whole wheat and gluten-free, if necessary.  Have a couple different cheeses, pepperoni, sausage, and some veg.  Don’t have more than three or four choices so they don’t become paralyzed by indecision.  Let them make their own and just bake or grill them.taco barFor tacos, make a visit to your local tortilleria (tortilla factory, they’re everywhere these days, just google them); they’re fresh and cheaper than the grocery store.  Get corn tortillas for tacos and larger flour tortillas if you want quesadillas on the menu.  Get a modest selection of toppings and let the kids create their own.jiffy popYou must have munchies, but don’t get carried away.  Jiffy Pop popcorn is fun, and a lot of kids have never seen it.  I like a 50/50 spread: 50% chips and such, and 50% fruit, nuts, and veggies and dip.  Popcorn falls somewhere in the middle.  You can also make things like rice crispy treats, granola bars, and tiny little pb&j’s.sundae barFor sweets, have a Sundae bar with no more than three flavors of ice cream and a small selection of toppings.  Just have plenty of cans of aerosol whipped cream.  Small fry adore them—I know The Kid and Petey sure do.pancake barFor breakfast serve a make-ahead potato casserole, bacon, juice, and pancakes with plenty of drop in choices like nuts, chocolate chips, and fruit.

I hope this helps.  Just remember, don’t get too fancy or complicated.  They could eat cold cereal out of the box, and because it’s with a bunch of friends at a party, they’d be thrilled.pj partyThanks for your time.