If you’ve never heard of Galentine’s Day, you’re certainly not a faithful viewer of the TV series Parks and Recreation, where the concept originated in 2010, on the 16th episode of the show’s second season. Most likely you have heard of Galentine’s Day, though—you’re simply unsure of its specifics. Like me before writing this article, you may have just assumed it was a cute way to redirect the focus of Valentine’s Day for the single ladies among us. But it’s not the case. (A relief to those of us anxiously awaiting another Valentine’s Day spent baking alone.) Some things you may not know about the holiday and how to celebrate: First, Galentine’s Day isn’t on February 14th, but February 13th. Second, the holiday is meant for romantically attached and unattached women alike. Third, the focus is on female friendship—or, as Leslie Knope of Parks and Rec says, “ladies celebratin’ ladies.” Right on!
If you’re looking for a way to let the important women in your life know how much you appreciate them, take advantage of this February 13th to plan something special. Here are five ways to celebrate Galentine’s Day with your ladies:
Get out of town
Why not turn a Galentine’s Day celebration into a weekend getaway? It doesn’t have to be far from home, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Sometimes it’s just nice to escape the life you know. Gather a few of your closest friends and split the costs of a bed and breakfast, an Airbnb, or a cabin. Adjust your plans for what’s nearby and what all of you need the most right now. Are you craving a quiet setting surrounded by nature? A bustling city? A town that doesn’t show up on most maps? Try to choose a location that none of you has explored. This doesn’t have to be prohibitive to the ladies in relationships who want to spend Valentine’s Day evening with their significant others, either—just plan an overnighter or a day trip instead.
Block out time for a long, boozy brunch
This one brings Galentine’s Day back to its roots, evoking Leslie Knope’s vision for the holiday: “My lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it breakfast-style.” Scour the internet for restaurants in your area that are putting on Galentine’s Day special offers for drinks or menus (they’re out there!), or make reservations at your favorite brunch spot (bottomless mimosas, anyone?). Whatever you choose will be great, because breakfast is great.
Organize a Secret Galentine gift exchange
You’ve heard of the Christmas tradition Secret Santa. The variations of the game are numerous, but a tried-and-true version is the one where everyone in a group draws a name before some specified event (say, a long, boozy brunch) and, without revealing who has drawn whom, purchases a gift for the person they’ve drawn. For this Secret Galentine gift exchange, the organizer should hand out identical gift bags to the gals participating (including herself). Suggest a gift price range based on what everyone can afford. Remind the gals to put no identifying markers on the outside of the gift bags when they bring them on the day of the exchange, but to instead tape the name they’ve drawn to the inside of the bag. (This ensures that the gift-giver’s identity remains a secret until the part of the game where identities are revealed—which I can say from experience is most fun after everyone has had a few drinks.) At the event, each gal can take one of the gifts, open it and give it to the person whose name has been taped on the inside. Once all gifts have been opened, each person writes the name of the person she thinks is her Secret Galentine on the back of the piece of paper with her name on it. Once guesses are revealed, the Secret Galentines can reveal themselves to one another; those who guess correctly get a small prize!
Bring back the sleepover
Some of the best memories from my youth are of group sleepovers: those exciting events when, for a full 12 to 24 hours, I was left pretty much alone among a group of others who shared my passion for discussions about boys, sex, periods, feelings, God, and A Wrinkle in Time, often lasting through the night and broken up only by junk food, movies, and delirious fits of laughter. While the subjects of your passion may have changed since middle school, and while that passion’s intensity may no longer be enough to energize you through the night, there’s no reason why you can’t recreate a similar sense of excitement and intimacy. Invite your ladies over for a pot luck-style dinner, followed by special cocktails, popcorn, and the binge-watching of a show like Good Girls Revolt.
Schedule a group wine tasting (or host your own)
Wine tastings are fun, because they allow you to feel fancy and cultured while also getting kind of tipsy. (If you’d like to keep tipsiness to a minimum, be sure to consume a hearty meal ahead of time. It’s best to prevent a hangover before it happens!) Wine tastings have something for everyone in the group: those with refined palates and a love of wine get a better understanding of flavor profiles and winemaking methods, and those who just love wine whether it’s from France or Whole Foods still have wine. If you don’t want to go out for the tasting, create your own at home! Not a fan of wine? Try bourbon or beer instead. Your gals won’t complain.