Because it is my life goal to be more like Leslie Knope in all things, I’ve been hosting a Galentine’s Day party ever since I saw the season 2 Parks & Rec episode of the same name way back in 2010. I mean, your favorite lady-friends plus breakfast foods. What’s not to love?
Fast-forward to 2015, and I’m now planning my 5th annual Galentine’s Day celebration. And over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about throwing a kickass lady-love party. Here’s what I’ve learned, so you can bring this wonderful tradition into your own home, if you haven’t already.
I usually save the paper for my valentines on the day-of, and send an e-vite for the party. Partly because of cost, and partly because I usually forget to send out invites until a couple weeks ahead of time. Technically Galentine’s Day is February 13th, but I usually plan on the Saturday or Sunday before Valentine’s Day to avoid any conflicts.
Whether you choose snail mail or e-mail to invite your guests, just make sure it gets the message across that this is a day for gals to celebrate being gals! (No boys allowed.) And don’t feel like it needs to be fancy! Galentine’s Day is about fun, so I usually go the silly route, pushing my mediocre Photoshop skills to their very limit. I was particularly proud of my e-vite last year, even though some guests were disappointed that Meryl and Hillary didn’t end up showing:
Going out for Galentine’s Day is totally an option—that’s what Leslie does! But if you want full control (and zero noise restrictions on all the laughter that ensues), a homemade brunch is the way to go. I usually go potluck-style, asking that everyone bring a dish and a bottle of sparkling wine for mimosas. This is a great way to keep costs down (and keep your sanity) if you’re inviting more than 6 or 8 people.
However, if you love to cook or it’s a more intimate affair, making brunch for everyone is the best Galentine’s Day gift EVER. And there are so many make-ahead brunch recipes out there! Here are a few ideas that cover all the “perfect brunch” bases, if you ask me (note: calorie counting is strictly prohibited on G-Day):
- Easy Winter Fruit Salad
- Cobb Salad Deviled Eggs
- Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
- Hash Brown Egg Nests with Avocado
- Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus
- Baked Banana French Toast with Pecan Crumble
You’ve got to put everyone’s champagne to use somehow! Two words: Mimosa bar.
And, bonus: Having an array of juices and fruit is still just as tempting for anyone who doesn’t want to spike their brunch.
Other Galentine’s Day drink ideas:
- Make it pink: Looking for a brunch-appropriate signature cocktail that’s also beautifully bright pink? Look no further than the Blood Orange Mojito. Get in my belly now, please.
- Make it red: More of a savory brunch cocktail group? This bloody mary bar set-up is a proven hit. (Trust me, because I’ve done it. Things got deliciously weird.)
- Make it in bulk: This elderflower champagne cocktail is easy to make in batches, and it has sophisticated flair—plus strawberries. Yum.
- Make it caffeinated: “Irish coffee, anyone?” (All hands immediately shoot up.)
- Make it suuuuper nostalgic: This cocktail contails cocoa puffs. Need I say more?
Treat yo’ self to a couple bouquets of fresh flowers—use one as a centerpiece, and break up the other into smaller bunches and place them around the space in bud vases. The rest of the decorations can be as easy as buying pink plates and cups, making some tissue paper pom-poms, and stringing some red construction paper hearts along the mantle. No need to overdo it! Galentines don’t judge.
But if you ARE looking for a couple crafts to show off your Galentine’s Day spirit…
- This hand-painted XOXO tablecloth is adorable, and so easy.
- Make a wall of 3-D paper hearts!
- These big fringe garlands would make an amazing photo backdrop.
You’re gonna want a playlist that features a variety of amazing female artists singing upbeat, inspirational, and heartwarming songs about girl power and female friendship. Mix up the modern and nostalgic picks for a “girl love through the ages” feel. Think: Beyoncé, Spice Girls, Cyndi Lauper, Robyn, the Golden Girls theme song, etc.
Don’t have time to compile such a jaw-droppingly awesome soundtrack yourself? WELL GUESS WHAT? I made it for you. 50 fist-pumpin’ songs worth:
An activity is by no means necessary, but it can be a fun addition that gives your party a focus. One year, I even booked us all on a tour of a local chocolate factory—complete with lots of taste testing, of course. Get as creative as you want, but don’t overthink it—the whole point is to spend quality time together.
- Nail art: Put your Julep stash to good use by hosting a mani/pedi party for your pals.
- Get crafty: Pick a fun project that you can all do together, or provide a variety of colored paper, pens, glitter, and other craft supplies, and let people make their own Valentines at the party.
- Play games: Charades, Taboo, Celebrity, Apples to Apples… they’re all more fun after a couple mimosas!
- Watch a movie: Once brunch is over, bust out the popcorn and host a screening of a crowd favorite like Mean Girls, Bridesmaids, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, or another favorite rom-com or comedy.
Leslie Knope is an overproductive angel-goddess who gives everyone in attendance at HER Galentine’s Day party a bouquet of hand-crocheted flower pens, a mosaic portrait made from the crushed bottles of their favorite diet soda, and a personalized 5,000 word essay about why they are is so awesome. But here in the real world, we must be realistic. If your friends are anything like mine, getting everyone together for laughter and mimosas is enough of a gift in and of itself. But if you want to go the extra mile, here are some ideas:
- Gift bags: If you want to send everyone home with a treat (yo self!) bag, fill it with fun, girly, and affordable items like stickers, candy hearts, and your favorite beauty and polish goodies.
- Lipstick & nail polish exchange: My sister-in-law is hosting her own Galentine’s Day celebration this year, and she’s asked us each to bring a $10-or-under lipstick or nail polish for a gift exchange! Such a fun idea that hits me right in my Julep feels.
- Secret Cupid: This year for Galentine’s Day, my friends and I are trying a new thing called “Secret Cupid.” It’s like Secret Santa, except… all Valentines-y. We drew names beforehand and set a $25 limit, and everyone brings a special gift for a special someone. And you can bet they won’t be the stereotypical roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate.
- Go grade-school style: Make Valentine containers for each person using manila envelopes, paper bags, or shoe boxes. Ask your guests to bring a card for each person and then pass them out. The first year we did this, many of my friends went all-out, drawing their own cards and writing the sweetest messages for each friend. I still have all of mine!
Those are all my Galentine’s Day tips! Will you be hosting your own G-Day celebration this year? I hope so! It’s one of my favorite days of the year, bar none.