Today's busy kids may need the relaxation of an old-fashioned slumber party even more than their moms and dads did, says Carol Weston, New York City-based author of Private and Personal: Questions and Answers for Girls Only and the mother of two daughters, Elizabeth, 13, and Emme, 10. "Kids are so programmed that they don't have much downtime by themselves, let alone with a group of close friends. They relish the thought of having a huge chunk of time just to talk to each other in the dark."
What's more, sleepovers are a symbol of a child's growing independence, notes Weston. "It's an important rite of passage because they feel more independent than ever, yet they're still under the protection of a friend's roof." By age 6 or 7, she says, most kids should be mature enough to sleep away from Mom and Dad.
In the end, it's the ritual, not the location, that makes a slumber party special. "While some families are throwing amazing parties, the kids just love falling asleep and waking up together," says Weston. "Popcorn, videos, and five sleeping bags still guarantee a good time."