Dear American Girl,
I'm going to a new school this year, and I've invited a couple of new friends and a few old friends to my birthday sleepover. I think it'll be fun, but they don't know one another. I'm nervous that it might feel a bit awkward. Are there any get-to-know-you activities we can do at the sleepover? How can I help everyone feel comfortable?
-Break the ice
Here's your advice:
Before the party, plan lots of activities so that your guests won't be bored. If there's an awkward silence, suggest a game or serve a snack. If you plan ahead, you can keep up the energy and fun throughout the sleepover.
-Amber, age 12, Michigan
At the slumber party, you could make crafts together. It's a good way to stay busy, and conversation will probably flow naturally, too. I recently went to a party where I didn't know anyone, and we made bracelets. By the end of the party, a girl and I were making bracelets for each other!
-Abby, age 9, Kentucky
Play a game that needs partners, but ask each girl to partner up with someone she doesn't know. That might be a good way for your guests to get to know one another.
-Greta, age 12, Minnesota
Be a good hostess. When your friends start arriving, don't just stand there expecting them to start introducing themselves. When a girl arrives at the party, be sure to introduce her and help her feel comfortable.
-Tiffany, age 10, Michigan
Think of things that these girls have in common. Do they all like soccer? Play soccer in the backyard during the party. Do they love the color purple? Put up purple decorations and send them home with purple party favors. If you can't think of a lot that these girls have in common, just remember that the one thing they do share is being friends with you.
-Megan, age 12, Massachusetts
Plan an activity in which you all have to work together as a team, such as baking a batch of cookies or working on an art project. It'll be a great way to break the ice.
-Jolie, age 11, Illinois
Toss a ball around a circle. Each girl who catches the ball shares a funny story that's sure to make everyone giggle.
-Mary, age 10, Virginia
When the party starts, give each guest a strip of paper that has a question on it, such as, "What's your favorite color?" or "Do you have a pet?" Ask the girls to share these facts about themselves, and you might see that they're actually pretty similar.
-Alexa, age 11, California
When you introduce one girl to another, don't just say, "Hannah, this is Maggie." Instead, think of something that might connect them and say, for example, "Hannah, this is Maggie. Maggie's been playing the flute for three years, just like you!" Helping the girls to get to know one another can make them feel more at ease.
-Gwyneth, age 12, Virginia
Board games are always great icebreakers. Pull out a few of your favorites, and you'll all be having fun in no time.
-Isabella, age 9, Ohio
Plan some classic slumber-party activities, such as painting each other's nails or doing each other's hair. You'll all be laughing and swapping stories before you know it.
-Paige, age 13, Utah
At your sleepover, it might feel weird at first, but soon you might realize that your friends have similar personalities and might form fast friendships. Good luck!
-Isabella, age 12, California
You can't go wrong with watching a movie at your sleepover. Share some popcorn together and have fun talking about the movie. You also could ask each girl to bring her favorite candy or a snack such as pretzels, and you could mix all the treats together. Talking about your favorite treat is a great conversation starter.
-GJ, age 10, Virginia
Here's a helpful way for your guests to learn one another's names. Have the girls sit in a circle and ask each person to add an adjective in front of her name (Mysterious Madi). It's a good way to remember names and to share personality traits, too.
-Madi, age 11, Washington
A few years ago, I switched from public school to private school. I met some new friends at the private school, but I also invited my public school friends to my birthday party. What I discovered is that my two friend groups got along really well. I planned card games, crafts, and movies for my party. That way, we were never sitting around awkwardly, trying to figure out what to do next. People will feel more comfortable with each other if there's a good game that also starts up conversations.
-Kelley, age 13, Maine