The older I get, the less embarrassed I am to admit how much I prefer the comfort of my own home rather than being surrounded by strangers in a bar. I’m willing to bet you’re the same way. Guess what: your friends probably are, too! When you make plans to "catch up over drinks" at a bar or crowded restaurant, how much catching up do you actually get done, really? It's more like a like a lot of "What? Say that again?" followed by a defeated nod and smile because you have no idea what the other person just said.
Time to be the hero by inviting some of your nearest and dearest over for a night of relaxation and/or tons of fun—whatever direction you want to take this thing in. Regardless, it's bound to be far more entertaining than your last night out. Of course, making a low-key evening memorable requires a littttttle more effort than just cueing up Netflix. But not by much. Grab some crowd-pleasing snacks, stock up on games and movies, select the right jams. The most important thing is the company, and everything else will fall into place.
STEP 1: Tell Your Friends
It’s best not to get too far along in the planning process without knowing for a fact that your people are actually coming, so start here. Envision how many bodies could comfortably fit inside your apartment. (Remember, we're looking to steer away from crowded bar vibes, so consider seating options too. This should be a comfortable affair.) Use that number and make a list of your favorite people. Text, call, group email, send smoke signals — I’ll leave the invitation logistics up to you.
STEP 2: Make a Playlist
Every good host knows how to step up to the DJ plate. This is no joke because the playlist sets the entire mood for the entire evening. Is it going to be super mellow? Or Dance Party USA? The correct answer is a little bit of both. Don’t forget: with the perfectly curated playlist, order matters. None of this shuffle laziness. Stack up the chill indie jams in the beginning and save the anthemic sing-a-longs for later, when everyone’s well-fed and happy.
STEP 3: Pick Some Movies
This evening should really be about socializing, so the movie selection is more for background aesthetics. Therefore, avoid overly complicated plot lines or anything too loud and action-packed and stick to the comedic classics, like Anchorman, Mean Girls, Zoolander — the ones where everyone can zone in and out of attention and still know all the lines.
STEP 4: Stock Up On Board Games
Dust off those throwbacks! And in case your copies of Hungry Hungry Hippos or Trouble somehow didn’t survive your last several moves (I can’t imagine why), check out Amazon’s endless selection. Or just ask around because you’d be surprised what people have stashed away in their shelves. Have a deck of cards handy, too.
STEP 5: Plan Party Snacks
It’s a widely known rule that you cannot invite people over without feeding them, unless you want your friends to look at you with sadness and hunger in their eyes. Offer up a bountiful spread: veggies and hummus, chips and salsa, and of course, pizza as the main event. Present your guests with a Supreme Speciale hot out of the oven. That’ll avoid that whole thing when “hey, let’s order something!” turns into an hour long wait for food—since weekend nights are prime time for delivery guys—and everyone starts to turn at each other (#hangry).
STEP 6: Pick A Signature Beverage
In case your friends aren’t already impressed by your hospitality, serve them a fancy cocktail and that ought to seal the deal. Come up with a theme for the evening and let your cocktail represent that. For example, if your evening is all about celebrating the end of winter (as it should be), serve up some summery strawberry mojitos! OF course, be sure to stock up on flavored seltzer and wine so guests have options.
This article is sponsored by DIGIORNO, the perfect companion to a cozy night in.
Images: bernardbodo/Fotolia; Giphy (6)