If orange is the new black, then “girls’ night in” is most definitely the new “girls’ night out.” (Cue: tremendous sighs of relief from ladykind everywhere.) The Sex and the City days of high-cut dresses and higher heels have given way to a fantastic tradition known as the spa party, in which living rooms and master baths transform into havens of terrycloth and cucumber water, and friends leave bowled over instead of hungover. Ready to create a sparadise of your own? Here’s our guide to hosting your own day of Zen!
First step: plan your menu*. (*Which in spa-party-terms refers to both your menu of activities and your menu of eats!) Ever go to a spa and read over the list of services, only to say “Meh”? Or “If only I could get a facial with a mani instead of a massage and a scrub”? Good news: when you’re the spa, you’re in control! Decide on three to four “spa stations” to offer to your guests, which could range from a pedicure area to an aromatherapy setup to a relaxation station (think a quiet corner of a guest bedroom outfitted with vanilla candles and a stack of People magazines). And if you find yourself stuck -or overwhelmed – on what to offer, try to create “stops” that cater to different parts of the body and mind. So instead of a mani station and a pedi station and a foot scrub area (read: your extremities will be well-cared-for much to the chagrin of the rest of you), mix it up, and make one station for nails, one for hair care, and one for skin.
Activities: check! Next up: shopping! The best part about throwing a spa party is that you can give your guests an amazing experience without breaking the bank. First, make sure you have the basics: tea lights, flowers, lotions, and towels…even disposable flip-flops if you’re fancy. Pick up anything specific you need for your stations, like nail polish, aromatic oils, or face scrubs. Remember – “pampered” doesn’t have to mean “elaborate.” And in fact, with a spa party, sometimes, less is more! Pay attention to the little touches (relaxing lighting, calming music, comfy pillows for lounging) and don’t worry about going overboard. Your friends will still be blown away.
Alright, activities, done, supplies, done…ahem, we think it’s time to talk food. Light, delicious, refreshing food, aka, the perfect menu for your spa party. Like fresh fruits and veggies (grapes, watermelon, cherry tomatoes, zucchini spears…think bite-sized and portable), tiny tea sandwiches, grain salads (like quinoa!) made with fresh herbs (like basil!) and a light dressing (like a red wine vinaigrette!), and baked goods infused with healthy twists, like whole-wheat flour, oats, and honey. Keep the snacks on the lighter side nutritionally, aromatically (as in, that delicious, but ever-so-stinky gorgonzola will wreak havoc on your lavender essential oil station), and volumetrically. And no, we don’t mean quantity; we literally mean “volume.” As in, foods whose crunch factor is less than that of a baby carrot, because nothing says “ruined spa party” like a soundtrack of celery sticks.
And no spa spread is complete without hydration! Flavor-infused water is a must-have. Cucumber is a classic (and don’t forget to buy an extra one for the ever-essential slices you will be putting out for your guests to use on their eyes) but there will be nary a complaint if you mix things up, like rosemary-and-peach. Herbal iced tea also makes a lovely addition to your beverage menu, and we certainly won’t tell if you put out a carafe of rosé or a bottle of bubbly (as long as promise to invite us over).
With your menus locked and your supplies in hand, all that’s left is setting the stage! Pick a room with plenty of space to lounge in (and if this means nicely kicking the hubby/kids/dog/neighbor’s cat out for the afternoon, so be it!), plug in your iPod (and keep it simple – let Pandora/Spotify act as your DJ), and set up your spa stations, remembering the little accessories like a box of tissues by your mani station in case of smudges and a bowl of clean water by the facial scrub stop. And when the doorbell rings, there’s just one thing left to do: relax!