When we were little we knew them as slumber parties. We'd eagerly look forward to getting to stay up late, giggle, and act silly. Those long nights were bonding in ways that time at recess, afternoon play-dates, and long phone calls couldn't replicate. Our grown up version has come to be known as "Girls Weekends" and they are just as bonding and just as fabulous.
We Need Adult Slumber Parties!
I actually think we need these overnight parties more as adults than we did as kids. We so rarely give that gift of extended time to our friendships anymore. If you're anything like me, I feel pretty impressed when a friend and I actually carve out time for lunch twice in a month, touch base on the phone a couple of times, or see each other for a long dinner in my living room-- but you add up all those hours and they, literally, still fall short of what a slumber party can offer.
And far beyond the gift of actual hours together is what the build-up of those hours all taking place at once can make happen. You spread those hours out over a month and at least half your time together is updating about what has happened since you've seen each other last. But you push all those hours into one gathering and once the "updating" of recent events is done, all the rest of the time is for the stuff that really matters. It builds on itself so that you're sharing stories, secrets, laughter, and tears.
I'm still riding high from my annual girls weekend nearly two weeks ago. My heart is full. So ab-so-lute-ly full.
There are simply no phone conversations, meals, or evenings long enough to provide the level of sharing that we relished in. The vulnerability, the un-rushed time, the radical presence we gave each other, the tears, the laughter, the goofiness, the honesty, and the personal growth all added up to feeling so seen and loved by each other. Add in the food, the wine, the sleeping in, and the long walks-- and these are restorative weekends in every way!
But more important to telling you all the benefits to these adult slumber parties is to actually help you see how to plan one in your own life. Even if you don't yet have this perfect group of friends... you can get started.
How to Plan a Girls Weekend:
- Decide Who You Want To Invite. In my opinion, the who informs everything else like location, price, and activities; based on where everyone lives, whether they all consider each other friends, or how bonded everyone is already. When you think about bonding and connecting-- who comes to mind? A group of friends you've lost touch with from long ago? Random friends from here-and-there who don't know each other? A local group of women you are close to? Or, some local women you'd like to get to know better?
- Be Clear on Why Everyone Would Want to Get Together. If the women all know each other and consider everyone else a friend (as opposed to them all being your friend from different places who don't know your other friends), then the why is often a little easier because "just getting together" is reason enough so then the location and activity take a backseat to why the women would come. If the women don't know each other well, then we usually need a bit more of an "excuse" such as for celebrating your birthday or other milestone; and the focus on an activity is more helpful whether it's for a concert, destination, or experience.
- If they don't know each other well and are all local then start with one night and keep it local. I'd suggest finding something fun, such as a concert or restaurant you've been wanting to try, and send out an email to see who wants to join you and then either a) come back to your house for a slumber party and brunch the next day or b) share a hotel room downtown as part of the fun.
- If you're a group of friends who know each other decently well and are all local then I'd either start with the above step or throw out the idea to the group to gauge interest in doing a get-away weekend sometime. The goal of this one is to keep it driving distance and priced low: you want to make it easy to say yes. Try to make it at least 2-full days, with 1-night of housing that is in everyone's budget (lots of homes to rent on places like AirBnB!). Invite your group to it as a chance for us to all get-away and play!
- If they don't know each other well and are not local then realize that it's a bigger ask (airfare and travel time, and time with women they don't really know) so the motivation will be for you and/or the focus of the trip. It really needs an excuse like "this year for my 42nd birthday I really want my closest friends with me!" or an event like "I want to run the Nike Half Marathon this year" or "I've always wanted to do a girls trip to Vegas!"-- with a "Who's In?" and being okay with whatever group of 3-5 women say yes. (The benefit of this is that once they all hang out for a weekend together, chances are high that someone will say "We should do this again!" and you might have the birth of an annual ritual on your hands that will be easier now that they know each other!)
- If they know each other well and are not local then the bigger issue is usually someone just needs to be a catalyst who says, "I miss all of you! I'm jealous every time I hear about others have girls weekends-- what do you all say we do one and catch up?" Again, keep the price as low as possible (does anyone in the group know anyone with a vacation home that can be borrowed? where is it cheapest to all fly into for everyone?) as that will be the objection for many women who feel guilty taking family money to do something for themselves.
- Plan the Easiest Time Away Possible. The biggest mistake is made when the price tag starts climbing and the stress of planning outweighs the intended benefits. Keep it as simple as possible. The goal is to get you together overnight with some of your friends. That's it. You can always dream bigger in following years once everyone is SOLD on that time together. But at first, just err on the side of keeping it affordable and relaxing. The truth is we can all go sight-seeing with our families and romantic partners so that's not what we need; what we need is uninterrupted girl time so make sure your trip factors that focus in! Way better to have more unscheduled time with everyone just hanging out than to be on any schedule packed full of activities. The highest priority is quality time together.
- Get the Dates on the Calendar ASAP. The rest of it can come together later.... what is highest priority is that a weekend is actually selected and committed to-- dates and location need to be set. Then everyone can keep a look out for airfare deals or groupons to local restaurants and start to make the arrangements necessary with their obligations.
- Be at Peace If Not "Everyone" Can Come. Not everyone can/will prioritize this in their calendar and finances. That's okay. Keep planning for those who can. If even 3-4 of you can go, you'll still get the benefits, and chances are high that next year others will try to come. Just get it going.... :)
This time next year, you can have a photo album filled with memories of a get-away with women you grew to love even more.
And, if you're lucky, some of the group get-aways you start might even turn into annual traditions will bless your life far into the future!
I'd love to hear other tips you'd give for planning Girls Weekends-- feel free to add them in the comments. Or, if you have questions or reservations, I'm happy to brainstorm, give suggestions, or offer up any other tips you might want.