A complete guide to throwing the most epic retro sleepover party this summer holiday

In honour of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain back to China, here's how to have a sleepover – 1997 style!

Karly Cox |

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In honour of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain back to China, we’re encouraging readers to celebrate with a sleepover – but you should party like it’s 1997!

Now that school’s out, invite some friends over, and host a retro bash. Here are some tips from someone who actually attended slumber parties like this, at the time.


First and foremost, you have to understand that even in tech-savvy HK, where almost everyone had internet, internet was dial-up. You couldn’t do things like download a Spotify playlist or stream a series on Netflix. You had to buy or rent a CD or VHS (ask your parents) respectively.

Also – and this may be the hardest part of hosting an authentic do – hardly anyone had a mobile phone, and they certainly weren’t capable of doing much except making calls, sending SMS, or playing Snake.

So, for an authentic 1997 gathering, decide in advance what you want to watch and listen to, and download it. Then switch off your Wifi on the night. No cheating.

To help you decide what to watch and listen to, here are our some of favourites from the year:

Movies: Men in Black, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, Good Will Hunting, Hercules, Air Force One

TV shows: Friends, The X Files, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Party of Five, Animaniacs, Boy Meets World, The Simpsons, Beverly Hills 90210: the original series

Albums: The Verve, Urban Hymns; Daft Punk, Homework; No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom, Backstreet Boys, Backstreet’s Back; Spice Girls, Spice (OK, a 1996 album, but it was huge in ’97!)


Luckily, popcorn is a pretty timeless snack , and thanks to the popularity of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the early 90s (and, you know, it being delicious), pizza was a big thing at sleepovers around the time of the handover. Delivery was a thing even back then – strictly you should phone them, but I guess we’ll turn a blind eye if you order online.

Doritos and Cheetos were also popular, so load up (and be careful what you touch with your orange hands!). Add to this any of the following overly sweet treats, available at bigger branches of Western supermarkets, or the American stores (have a salad the following day!):

Pop Tarts, Nerds, candy necklaces, sherbert, Ring Pops, bubble gum, strawberry laces, weirdly flavoured soft drinks (add a drop of vanilla essence to your Coke, or fruit syrup to your Sprite).


In the 90s, everyone – gamer or not – had a Game Boy, gaming was an huge part of slumber parties. There are rebooted versions of so many 90s classics for contemporary consoles, while others are available online (OK, go on, switch the Wifi back on), so load up, and hold a tournament of one of these 20-something year-old classics.

Host a tournament of any of these games: Super Mario 64, Myst, Doom, Final Fantasy VII, Mortal Kombat, Crash Bandicoot, Sonic the Hedgehog, Tekken 3, Resident Evil, Dune, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, Tomb Raider II, Mario Kart 64, Diablo


You should definitely wear costume, at least to arrive. But because fashion is cyclical, there’s a good chance you have 90s clothing in your wardrobe and don’t even have to make an effort.

Girls, wear a choker, crop top, mood ring, and dungarees, or a skater skirt. Poker straight, centre-parted hair and dark lipstick are essential for authenticity. If you can be bothered. Guys, keep it cool with skateboard brand tees, baggy jeans (with one leg rolled up) and a snapback cap. Frosted tips are optional (and ill-advised).

Play (some more)

If you’re not into video games, or feel bad for going online and not getting the real experience, there are plenty of board games that still exist.

Operation, Guess Who, Connect 4, Jenga, Cluedo, Twister and Pictionary are still entertaining.

And don’t forget, once it’s lights-out, any good slumber party requires ghost stories. Prepare to scare!