Brighten up this winter with plans to celebrate your friends.
Valentine’s Day is sweet and its partner holiday, Galentine’s Day on Tuesday, February 13, is an opportunity to cherish the women in your life. But you don’t have to wait for a specific day. Take time to acknowledge friends, old and new, with special plans this January and February. Whether it’s scheduling a long overdue girls’ getaway, sending a card with a heartfelt note or planning a simple lunch, here are a few ideas to let those special gals in your life feel cherished.
The possibilities are endless. Break out the good china and linens, host a potluck menu where everyone contributes or make your favorite meal. If you don’t like to cook or fuss, make it an afternoon coffee or tea. The key is to set aside the time and invite friends to settle into real conversation. Clubs and restaurants are great, but home gatherings have an intimacy that can’t be beat.
One of my favorite gatherings was an all-women birthday party where the host had theme rooms—one featuring a fortune teller and another with a masseuse giving shoulder rubs. Invite a big gathering of friends and let them all mingle. Who knows what new friendships may form?
An intimate gathering creates the chance to truly catch up. Go the extra mile and consider each friend. Make place cards that say more than just a name. Include a special memory or what you admire the most about them.
Give a Gift
It’s hard to keep up with birthdays amid job deadlines, kids’ sports schedules and life’s fast-paced calendar. Make Galentine’s the day you send a thoughtful gift to one or more friends whose birthday you might have missed. It doesn’t have to break the bank. Simple and personal is best. Wrap up a book you enjoyed, a journal, colored pens, a box of macaroons—the key is being personal. Try being a little nosy and take notes. The Notes section in your contact list is a great place to store personal details as they come up—things like gluten-free, loves caramel, hates nuts.
Words Go a Long Way
We text, we voice-memo, we stand side by side on the playgrounds with friends with every other sentence interrupted by the need to dust mulch off a fallen toddler or answer a text about next week’s lax car pool. We can spend hours with friends and never finish a conversation. Whether it’s nap time or after the kids are asleep and the rest of the house is giving you a break, sit down to send that note letting your friends know what their companionship means to you. It doesn’t need to be an essay, but a real paper card, handwritten and mailed, is a priceless gift. If you are a planner, set this on your schedule as a regular event. Go back through your list of friends, old and new. Think of where your words might matter.
One of the best things I have ever done was taking the time to write to a friend’s parents who had hosted me as a teen almost every summer at their lakehouse. As an adult, I could look back and realize that their casual gesture was one of great generosity and shaped the person I became. My note made their day. Your words can make an aunt, teacher or long-ago friend feel valued and loved.
Life is fast-paced and a little scheduling goes a long way. Keep a list of faraway friends you want to keep in touch with and add a name or two to your calendar each week and set a reminder to reach out. Check names off after you have a catch-up and move them to future dates so you make certain those valued friendships don’t slip away.
Start a Friendship Chain
Is there anything better than anonymous flowers, sweets or a special treat at your door? Try the winter version of Halloween “Boo-ing,” where children leave a treat anonymously at a friend’s door asking them to pass it on. Sneak an anonymous surprise at the door of a friend with a note telling them they have a week to pass a similar surprise along to another anonymous friend. See how far your chain of friendship can go. Maybe you’ll even find something to make you smile at your front door.
Shake those Pom Poms
Celebrate friendship all year long. One of the ways to stoke true friendship and personal happiness is by embracing a philosophy of freudenfreude. This phrase is derived from the German word for joy and means to be happy for someone else’s success. The whole concept of freudenfreude is to cultivate genuine joy and positivity when good things happen to others. In a social media culture that exposes us daily to comparison, try to counter jealousy by assuming the role of cheerleader. Our friends are on our team, and when good things happen for a teammate, we all win.
We read about it everywhere. There is a loneliness epidemic. At a time when we seem to be more connected than ever, we still sometimes feel alone. Friendship is the antidote to isolation, but keep some perspective. We do ourselves and our children a disservice by stoking the best- friend myth. Girls covet that BFF status and find themselves searching each new classroom for the “One”—that girl to stick with them through thick and thin like a Hallmark movie.
Searching for that one emotional soulmate to help us navigate everything from school to workplace drama to married life and motherhood is rare, and she usually is not just one person. Most of us will have many different friends over the course of our lives. Accepting that and not holding on to an expectation that is unrealistic is sage advice.
A satisfying friendship doesn’t always have to work both ways. Keeping score over who called who last and what you do for friends vs. what they do for you turns a connection into a sport, and nobody wins. Some friends simply are better at making the call, remembering birthdays and dropping off bone broth when you’re sick. Take heart. You don’t always have to be the perfect friend. But Galentine’s Day, or any day, is an opportunity to take time to reach out and rekindle friendships.