Photo: Wavebreak Media Ltd via 123RF

If you’re looking for a way to entertain kids indoors, make a magical evening by building a blanket fort!

Great for kids of all ages and fun for groups of friends, blanket forts transform an otherwise dull space into a magical, secret world perfect for imaginative play. If you want to better your chances of becoming the blanket fort master, here are six tips for an epic creation.

Materials Matter!

Anyone who’s made a blanket fort knows that materials matter. While you can get away with heavy quilts and flimsy clips for a small area, a bigger and taller fort requires better materials. First, identify the objects that will form the structure for the fort—whether it’s chairs, boxes, tables, or fort-building poles, these objects need to be sturdy and strong. If something isn’t strong enough, add weights to keep it in place (books are good for this). Next, choose your covering material. Bedsheets work well since they’re large and lightweight. Finally, decide how you’ll attach the seams of adjoining covers and make sure everything stays in place on your structures; large clothespins and binder clips are great options.

Have Multiple Entrances

A truly spectacular blanket fort has multiple entrances/exits. Because part of a fort’s appeal is its secrecy, kids will want to evade your gaze by varying how they enter and exit the area. Having multiple entry points also makes the space feel bigger—one kid can go in while another leaves without a traffic jam. Make the entrances less likely to get caught and cause collapse by using a pillow as a “door” in a gap between a blanket and the wall, for example, or by leaving a small space between two adjoining covers.

Make Separate Rooms

Do you have ample space for the fort? If so, making separate “rooms” is an excellent way to increase the magic and longevity of this mini house. Kids will love designating specific areas for their activities, such as crafts, watching movies (including a tablet is optional!), planning secret missions, and spying on those outside the fort. Create these spaces by lining boxes to create low walls or drape part of a blanket down inside the space for more complete separation. Making separate spaces different heights by varying the ceiling location is also a great way to encourage kids to use the fort for various activities. Crawling through the entrance but standing in the center allows for a versatile space.

Photo: Wavebreak Media Ltd via 123RF

Include Surprising Secret Spots

Kids will assume that their fort has an entrance and exit, but do they expect a secret slot to send letters to the outside world? What about a strategically-placed spot for a paper tube spyglass to peek through? If you’ll be serving food in the fort, make a special cardboard tray that can slide in and out under a slightly raised blanket so that food can magically enter without making contact with adults.

Pile in the Pillows

A blanket fort should be, above all else, cozy! Cover the floor with pillows of all shapes and sizes, along with any extra blankets that you didn’t use for construction. If kids will be sleeping in the fort, make sure there’s enough room for sleeping bags and pillows. Yoga mats on top of hard flooring can add some extra cushion if you need it, as well.

Add Some Lights

If you’ve made your blanket fort well, it’ll be dark inside! Adding lights not only makes the experience more magical, but they serve a practical purpose, too. Use a camping lantern for the center of the fort so that everyone can see the edges and top and avoid creating a collapse. If you’ve built the fort near an outlet, plug in some twinkle lights and run them along a border without any entrance. For added fun, glow sticks can illuminate the space as well. Put a group in a mason jar for a DIY lantern or fasten them into loops to hang from any clothespins or clips that hang from the top. A portable starlight can also create magic in the space by projecting hundreds of tiny dots all around.

Whether your blanket fort is designed for one person or a crowd of kids at a sleepover, these tips will make it the best in the neighborhood!