You know how you have those friends who you can not see for months or even years and when you get together, it’s like you were just hanging out yesterday? Those friends are great, but the not getting together often enough is definitely not so great. As much as I love a girls night out, sometimes it’s a challenge to actually make it happen.
Time is probably the biggest challenge, but it isn’t always the only thing holding us back. Inertia. Laziness. Forgetfulness. There are a multitude of reasons why a girls night out doesn’t get put on the calendar nearly as often as maybe it should.
Fortunately, I have some pretty awesome friends. There is a group of four of us who get together for a quarterly girls night out. For years, we have managed to get together at least once a quarter for a girls night out, even though we live over an hour from each other these days.
How do we do it?
How To Make Your Girls Night Out Happen – Regularly
Simple. We have a system that works for us, and I bet it will work for you and your friends, too.
The biggest piece is that it isn’t on any one of us to plan the girls night out. Each one of us has a piece of the responsibility, so no one person has to do it all. Because, be honest, when you have to do all the work, don’t you sometimes just put it off? Instead, each job is assigned to one person in the group, and that job is always our job, but we can’t do it until the previous job has been done. Maybe it’s a little bit of peer pressure or maybe it’s just knowing that someone else is relying on us, but whatever it is, it’s worked for almost 10 years for us.
Each person has her own duty for girls night out, and you can assign them randomly or decide who gets which task based on their strengths. You all have the friend who loves to explore, the one who is organized, the outgoing one who loves to talk on the phone, and more. For us, our tasks are all suited to each one of our strengths. The first step needs to be done only once as a group. The remaining steps are assigned owners and follow each other each time you set up your girls night out.
Step 1 Agree to a timeframe. For our schedules, once a quarter is what works. We agreed to this at the beginning, and that has set the parameters around our gatherings. For others, once a month may work, or it may even be as infrequently as once a year. You know your group and what works for you.
Step 2 Announce planning season has begun. One person is in charge of simply announces that it’s time for another girls night out so the official planning can commence. This should happen on an expected timeline. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Sometimes my friend will send out a cartoon announcing the start of planning season, while other times it’s just a glorious one liner celebrating the end of winter.
Because we do ours quarterly, an email from one of our friends goes out to the group on the first day of each season. We know to expect the email, and we are looking for it. If for some reason my friend forgets, there are three of us to gently remind her. If you have a monthly girls night out, assign a date, whether it’s the first of the month or the last day or even the first Tuesday. However often you want your girls night out to happen, there’s a way to assign an “announcement date” to start the process.
Step 3 Send out a list of possible dates. For our group, we know that Friday nights work best for us. That helps limit the potential dates, but again, your group will be unique. One friend is assigned the task of sending out dates for the quarter – but those dates can’t be sent out until the announcement that it’s time to start planning. She starts by looking at her calendar and determining all 11 Fridays – or sometimes 3 – that work in her schedule. She lists those in an email and sends them to the rest of us. We reply all narrowing down the dates based on our own schedules.
We’re generally able to find at least one date that works, and the friend who sent out the original date list is in charge of announcing the agreed upon date. Because this is her job, she gets to choose the date arbitrarily if there is more than one that works for us. Generally, we try to choose the earliest date that works, knowing that sometimes things come up and we have to be flexible.
Step 4 Send out a list of potential restaurants. One of the rule of our group is that we always want to eat somewhere new. Living in Chicago, there are so many restaurants that we can always find something different. Sometimes we’ll go for a fancy restaurant, while other times we want something more fun and casual. With our hockey team in the playoffs still, right now our focus is on places where we can watch the game.
This one is my job, as I love finding new places to eat. One of the great parts of modern technology is that the majority of restaurants now list their menus on their websites. I’ll send out a note with some ideas for where to each along with a link to the menu so we can all check them out and weigh in. Based on what others have to say, I’ll respond announcing our restaurant choice. This time around? It was Buffalo Wings and Rings, no question. Hey, there’s hockey to watch!
Step 5 Make the reservations. Most restaurants we go to for girls night out require a reservation, so this is the fourth friend’s job. Based on the date and the restaurant, she’ll get that piece set up. In the case where we go to a restaurant without reservations required, like Buffalo Wings and Rings, she’s in charge of finding out typical wait times on Friday nights and deciding on a time that will work best for us to minimize our wait. The final email planning email goes out, and we’re set for an amazing girls night out with an amazing group of friends.
Step 6 Send out the reminder email. We definitely don’t want one of us for forget to come to the girls night out, so the same friend who sent out the original email announcing the start of planning also sends out a reminder email about the girls night out a day or two ahead of the dinner. If you have a fifth friend in your group, this is a great job to assign her, but since our group has just four, we recycle.
This system has worked for us for years, and because we all know who is doing what, we can help prod people along if the next step isn’t forthcoming. The first step is the key, but she has learned to simply put it on her calendar with a reminder so that it’s easy to remember each time. From there, everything is a domino effect, and it works.
One key is to be flexible. Sometimes things come up. One friend is an IT director, and her releases (that happen Friday nights of course) get moved and we have to reschedule. That’s where having chosen the earliest workable date sometimes comes in handy. Every once in awhile, the changes happen at the last minute and we have to scramble to come up with a Plan B. Restaurants where we can enjoy a girls night out with last minute planning really help, and not surprisingly Buffalo Wings and Rings is a perfect choice for this, too.
Though we headed there for our girls night out to watch hockey (and enjoy a good dinner and good company, too, of course), baseball is in – pun intended – full swing, and Buffalo Wings and Rings is celebrating this with a seasonal ballpark inspired menu. The traditional menu is huge, but as soon as we opened the ballpark inspired menu, we knew exactly where we were starting.
The Jack’d Up Wings caught our eyes because they were so unique, and… wings. You gotta order wings when you’re at Buffalo Wings and Rings, right? These ones come tossed with their sweet Thai chili and sea salt caramel and are garnished with caramel corn. The wings and the applewood smoked bacon that topped them disappeared. Fast.
But our favorite of everything we had for our girls night out dinner? Deep fried pretzel bites with queso dip topped with jalalpenos and salsa. The Ballpark Pretzel Bites were amazing. I had never thought to deep fry pretzels, but I’m tempted to buy a fryer just so I can make these at home.
We usually share our food at our girls night out, because it’s fun to taste all the different items we all choose. And we are usually pretty good about sharing. Not so much this time around. As soon as we each tasted our first pretzel bite, it was a race to see how quickly we could finish them. It was like little kids at the dinner table trying to ensure we each got our fair share.
Somehow, we finished our pretzels before the queso. Our waiter generously offered to bring us out more chips to enjoy with the queso, but we wanted those pretzel bites. Instead, he placed an off the menu order for just pretzel bites and took $2 off the cost of the appetizer since we didn’t get queso with it.
I could have eaten just those pretzel bites with queso for my dinner. Proof they were truly that good? After all that, one of my friends ordered the Ballpark Pretzel Bites to go so she could bring some home to her family (or so she claimed).
The rest of our dinner was just as delicious. Three of my friends ordered wings with different sauces. With 14 different sauce choices, it isn’t surprising that they each came up with a different pick. So of course that meant we got to check out Garlic-Q, Bourbon BBQ, and Fajita Tequila Lime. So good, and each comes with celery and ranch or bleu cheese – which just like everything at Buffalo Wings and Ring is fresh and never frozen. The chef onsite in the kitchen did an amazing job ensuring the quality of the food we ate.
We had hoped to have dessert – and part of our girls night out routine is to check the dessert menu before we order to ensure we have room to enjoy a sweet treat or two at the end of our meal (shared amongst us all, of course) – but we couldn’t find it in us to order dessert this time. Those Ballpark Pretzel Bites, along with everything else, were too tempting and we failed to save room.
But there’s always next time….
Since we all live so far from each other (and some of us are more on time than others – c’mon, you know you have friends who are always running late, too), we arrive at our girls night out dinners separately. Sometimes that means we’re waiting for a bit due to unexpected traffic or being stuck at work or… just not leaving in time.
We’re that group of friends who can chat away the night, but we still sometimes like to be silly and have fun. One of my favorite games to play when waiting – whether it’s at a restaurant or in line at an amusement park – is to guess “what’s this?” This is one of those games that works both with my kids and for a girls night out, and the rules are simple.
Someone is “it” and gets to choose an object to photograph. Using her cell phone, she selects an object nearby and takes a closeup photo of it while everyone else closes their eyes – no cheating! The photo has to be in focus because it isn’t fair otherwise, but aside from that, it can be anything. Once it’s taken, you can zoom in with your fingers to hide things around what you photographed to make it a little harder.
Next up, the rest of us who are there have to guess what it is. Whoever guesses is the next “it” and takes the next photo. It’s all in good fun, though if you have uber competitive friends, you could rotate in a circle and award points to the person who guesses the item first. This group isn’t like that, but I’ve been out with friends where we’ve done this, and it gets hilarious.
So can you tell what I chose when it was my turn?
While two of my friends couldn’t figure it out, one looked at it and immediately knew it was ice. Good call – this was a super closeup of the top of my glass of water at Buffalo Wings and Rings. Easy, fun, and though it uses electronics, it’s interactive, too. You can make it easier for kids by leaving the hint of the Coca-Cola in the glass at the upper left or make it harder for older kids and adults by zooming in so that the ice is all that’s visible. And yes, even with only the ice, my friend figured it out.