Isn’t this time of year the worst? It’s cold and gloomy, all the fun getting together with family holidays is over, and we’re just stuck with … winter. Nothing really to look forward to until Spring Break, but that’s still a ways away.
So in the meantime, I try and fabricate fun, and one of my favorite things is planning a girls night in. My girlfriends here are the best and literally just carried me through the most challenging year of my life. Some of them have also gone or are going through rough times now. A night surrounded by love and fun usually cures what ails me, and it’s right in line with my goals for this year of tenderness and care.
You know yourself and your friends best so maybe none of these ideas will resonate with you, or maybe one will grow into something that sounds fun for you all. Whatever you decide to do, just do something. Right now is the perfect time of the year to infuse some fun.
1. Theme nights!
Around Valentine’s Day, some ladies do something for Galentine’s Day, which is a fun way to celebrate our friends. But it doesn’t have to be something so formal or established. Truth be told, I was going to do a Galentine’s night here, but couldn’t make it work.
Have a favorite television show that is about to start a new season? Have a night to celebrate that. You can each dress up as your favorite character from the show, and make food inspired by the show. Why not add some fun decorations as well?
When you have a girls night out, it’s fun to get dressed up. But for a girls night in, why not try a “comfy cozy” night? Everyone can wear their pj’s, and be super comfy together. No worries about what to wear. In fact, don’t even bother with makeup. The easier, the better!
Do you have a favorite decade? Maybe you wish you grew up during the Roaring 20s, or just love the clothes from the 1950s. Why not plan a decades night? Everyone can dress up in clothes and accessories from that decade. You can even have food and snacks that were popular during that time period.
For any of these, or other theme nights, you can google to get ideas for menus or things to do. What I’ve found is my friends just want to be together, so it doesn’t even have to be something structured, but that’s us. You may be more into activities, or maybe you’re just getting to know some of the people you’re thinking of including, and structure may help keep things moving.
2. Game night!
Along those lines, you could also host a game night. Depending on your people, pick your games wisely! I’ve got a group of friends I like to play Cards Against Humanity with. I won’t play that with all my friends, but with a select group? Absolutely. And the more irreverent the better!
One time, one of my friends (and admittedly, it was thrown together at the last minute and we were looking for another couple of people and it was very late when we called her), showed up in her pajamas. Legend. So depending on your people, keep that option on the table!
I’ve got a (smaller) group of friends who like to play Spades. Bunco was wildly popular among neighborhood moms for a reason, too. We’ve played Trivial Pursuit (80s Edition!), Pictionary, and Scattergories as well. There’s no end to the possibilities of fun, y’all.
One thing that I think makes everything more fun is a signature cocktail. I like seasonal drinks – I tried out a candy cane-infused vodka cocktail over Christmas, but it wasn’t good, so that was a shame. But for spring, one of my favorites is a strawberry lemon prosecco sangria. Fresh, local strawberries? Yum. With prosecco? Even yummier. The colder months lend themselves to fun cocktails. You could even pair a sweet treat with one.
If cocktails aren’t your scene, try a mocktail. There are so many new, great non-alcoholic mixers and alternatives available now. I like the festivity of something a little fancier than plain wine or water, but that’s just me.
4. Food, of course!
Some people hesitate to entertain because the idea of providing food for so many people is too much. If that’s what’s holding you back, make it a potluck. You can ask people to bring either an appetizer (names A-M) or a sweet treat (names N-Z), or let them choose themselves. Maybe you’ll end up with exclusively desserts, and I don’t feel like that would be a bad thing at all.
When I entertain, I buy most of the snacks rather than make them. Although, every once in a while, I’ll whip something up. But there are a lot of great snacks beyond potato chips available. I just recently tried my hand at a charcuterie board (please ignore the mismatched bowls and jam container – or don’t and don’t let perfection and uniformity stand in your way!).
The only time it took was assembling it – I didn’t even slice the cheeses I put on it, but I did fold the salami and roll the prosciutto. I did some research since I’d never done a big board myself before, but it was easy, and I think it turned out okay for my first try – I’ll definitely try my hand at more in the future.
There are all sorts of food and snack ideas for any budget. The important thing is to get your people together. Nobody’s going to care you went with chips and salsa (because chips and salsa) instead of homemade fancy spanakopita or some other labor-intensive appetizer. Your friends just want to be together, so don’t get hung up on the details that could keep you apart.
I’ve always loved having people over. It brings me joy to see people I love in my home laughing and happy and having fun. And that’s all I want when I’m at someone else’s house, too. I have never – not once – thought, “oh, it’s so great to be with these friends I love and I would be having so much fun, if only the food were fancier/the house was bigger/she’d swept the floors.” Never. And you probably haven’t either. We judge ourselves way more harshly than we judge others (and more harshly than others judge us) and that can get in our way.
So, if you’re looking to perk up this gloomy season, make it happen. Have your friends over. Enlist a friend to co-host. Ask people to bring stuff. But don’t put off spending time and making memories because you’re intimidated or nervous about how you think your friends will judge you.
And then before you know it, spring will be here and it won’t be dreary or cold anymore, and being together with our favorites will just seem easier.
How do you liven up the gloomy months with your friends? What ideas do you have for a Girls’ Night In?