Some suburban parents are opting to move their slumber parties from the familiar confines of the family room to more spacious and interactive venues, like gymnastics centers, children's play spaces, and bowling alleys. Another trend, particularly among families for whom space is a problem: hotel parties, held anywhere from a suite at the Plaza to a room at the local Holiday Inn. Some parents even rent a limo, letting kids feel like celebrities for the night. Guests are picked up, driven around while they eat pizza, then delivered to the hotel, where they can splash around in the pool and settle in with a video. It's like a post-prom for 7-year-olds with no stress -- and no opposite sex.
What's driving the trend toward more extravagant sleepovers? "We're living in the information age, so people want to be more clever about parties than ever before," says Katherine Wyse Goldman, author of New York's 50 Best Places to Have a Kids' Party. "And with two working parents, you don't have as much time, so people are taking advantage of all the party-planning services out there. What's more important -- to have time with your kid or to plan the party?" The educational component of museum and zoo parties appeals to many parents as well.