The holidays are a time for togetherness, and while you may be focused on family holiday parties and plans, it's also a wonderful and warm idea to plan a get-together for your girlfriends.
You may hesitate to plan a get-together, thinking that your friends couldn't possibly break away from their already-packed schedules to attend your party. "I thought it would be self-indulgent of me to ask my friends to sign up for yet another event, to shirk their own responsibilities to come and 'play' for a night with me," says party-host Sheila Weinstein. "I'm one of the few friends without kids, so I thought for sure that this invitation would create even more of a divide between us. But I was surprised at how willing they were, and how much they needed some girl time, like I did."
A UCLA study in 2000 showed that women who have a circle of friends experience relief from stress-based fight-or-flight responses that can drive up blood pressure. Also, when women gather with other women (and with children), they release more oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that has a marked calming effect. So your girls' night out (or in) is actually good for everyone's health -- especially during the stressful holiday season and winter months, when people may feel isolated and suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
So, dress up; slip on the pumps; pop some Champagne corks. It's time to show appreciation to your nearest and dearest ladies.
*Picking a Date and Sending Invitations
--Provide plenty of advance notice.
--Choose an off-day. If you know your friends spend most of their Saturdays tending to their kids' activities, think about Sunday or even a weekday night or morning. It's a good idea to message your friends to get a group vote about the day and time that works for them.
--Use free online invitation services that let you easily see who is coming, who isn't and with whom you need to follow up. Your guests' excited responses generate extra energy for your event, and you may even be able to organize who will bring what to the party.
--Etiquette tip: When you send out invitations, ask your invitees to let anyone you've forgotten from your circle know.
*Choosing a Theme or Style
Consider the following:
--A cookie exchange. This is always a holiday favorite. Make it easy on your friends this year by saying that store-bought cookies or brownies are fine. They often feel relief at not having to bake 11 dozen cookies. Host the exchange in your home, and set up trays on a table for your friends to circle and choose from at any time during a cocktail hour.
--Art night. The group goes to a nearby art center to paint, make ceramics, or create an easy craft project. Many of these art centers will allow you to bring in food and wine.
--Manicure party. Plan a group visit to your local nail salon or welcome your friends to your place and to your collection of fun holiday colors, nail decals and pens, as well as cocktails. (For best results, save the cocktails until after everyone's nails are done.)
--Wine night. Invite guests to bring a favorite vintage. Present plenty of foods that pair well with wine, such as fruit, cheese spreads, crackers and warm hors d'oeuvres. Or give this theme a twist by making it a dessert and Champagne party.
--Sports bar party. With all the winter sports going on, this is great time for your group to unwind and dig into plates of Buffalo wings and fries as you enjoy drinks and cheer for your favorite teams.
--What doesn't work? Direct sales parties masked as a holiday get-together. Never make your friends feel pressured to buy things that would give you a credit or kickback from the soiree.