Nicole Roland buzzes around a Glenshire backyard, stringing up strands of lights and laying out vibrantly colored pillow and blankets. Two little sets of eyes are peeking above the windowsill from inside the home’s second floor. Busted! Realizing they’ve been spotted, the children quickly duck away. Their excitement for the coming evening’s festivities got the best of them.
Roland is at the home to set up a party organized by her year-old business, Silly Sleepovers. Her events are anything but silly — they’re the kind of celebration that kids everywhere dream of, with sleep tepees, sparkling lights, catered food and snacks, and personalized souvenirs. Silly Sleepovers was born out of Roland’s knack for throwing one heck of a party.
“I’m a party girl in a party world,” she jokes. “I’ve definitely had a lot of occupations, jobs that dealt with or revolved around children, so I think that’s been a passion for my whole life … I just love to have fun. I love to entertain. It makes me happy putting a bunch of different people in a room that maybe know each other, introducing friends. I like to socialize, so then I want other people to socialize. I love a good party.”
As a mother of two, Roland has always thought Truckee/Tahoe could use a few more kid-centric birthday party locations, especially for kids whose birthdays fall in the winter months.
“I feel like our kids here don’t have a ton unless they’re going to go skiing for their birthday or go to Reno to one of the jump places. In Truckee itself, really, as soon as they grow out of the KidZone, what is there?” she said. “So I think there was a need for it and then I started just gathering my thoughts of what it would take.”
Roland’s business experience has been on the management side, so this was her first go at being an entrepreneur. She was looking to invest some savings, and the idea of throwing kids’ parties seemed like a great fit.
“The start of it was just trying to create something fun for kids to do,” she said.
Her daughter’s 10th birthday in the summer of 2022 was the perfect chance to test-run her business. By September, Silly Sleepovers was ready to debut. One year in, there’s been a lot of finessing along the way. Finding more efficient ways to set up for parties, in particular, was one area in which Roland quickly learned there was room for improvement.
“That’s probably been the biggest learning curve for me — being able to figure out what is the best use of my time,” she said.
It didn’t take long for Roland to sort that out. From using props that are interchangeable with multiple themes — such as teepees, lighting, table trays, and bedding — to assembling items at home, she’s got setup down to a science. It typically takes about four hours to decorate a party space, which can be inside or outside. From neon and glow parties to princess, dinosaur, tropical island, galaxy, camping, and countless other themes, Roland can make it happen. Parties aren’t required to be sleepovers; movie nights are just as popular. And for that matter, Roland’s festivities aren’t limited to just children. She excels at putting on adult parties, too, whether it’s for holidays, birthdays, or showers.
Her biggest challenge has been trying to find the balance of being able to create a profitable business while keeping her parties affordable for families, creating packages and ways to make things fit everyone’s budget.
“You don’t want to say, ‘oh, I’m only going to be for this type of client,’” she said. “I figured it out, creating it so that I can scale down or scale up based on what they’re financially comfortable with. I don’t want someone to feel like they can’t afford it.”
Roland looked at what local families typically spend on a birthday party when they go to places in Reno, such a trampoline parks, escape rooms, arcades, and go-kart racing. She found a way to have packages priced in line with how much those places charge while also being able to accommodate higher-end clientele, such as The Ritz-Carlton, which has hosted Silly Sleepovers for children staying at the Northstar California hotel. She even had a Girl Scout troop that saved their funds to celebrate with an outdoor movie night for their year-end party.
Another challenge for Roland is to restrain herself from buying more and more props and decor items because it’s easy to get carried away. She’s acquired all kinds of cool things, like a popcorn cart, movie projector, outdoor movie screen, even a yurt. Now that she’s built her arsenal of party supplies, Roland can accommodate pretty much any theme a client might desire. And she takes pride in the fact that no two parties are exactly the same.
Roland gets caught up in the feeling of watching parents’ excitement during the planning, with the best part of all being the kids’ faces when they see their first glimpse of a setup.
“I’ve stayed for when they’re arriving just to see. I’d say that’s the coolest thing ever,” she said. “It blows their minds … Their backyard didn’t look like this a few hours ago, and then they walk in and it’s their little dream. It’s creating a little fantasy world for the evening.”