Typically, staying in means a nice meal and movie watching while cuddling with your significant other. But have you thought about hosting your girlfriends for a night at home? With some planning, you can create an opportunity for true connection in a space that welcomes open conversation.

For a memorable night at home, challenge yourself to create an experience that touches all five senses. You’ll want to first set the atmosphere with furnishings and décor. Seating arrangements and little touches foster a readiness to unwind. You don’t have to be an interior designer to transform an ordinary room into a themed dinner setting. Use whatever décor pieces you have on hand and create an experience around them. For instance, a boho-style picnic may only require you to collect textured rugs and furniture cushions from within your home. The importance of these details is not to be overlooked. Your intentionality speaks a welcoming message: I’ve been expecting you, and I’m so glad you’re here.

With a plan in place for eye appeal, you’re now ready to create a menu. Think foods local to your region and in season. An appetizer, a main course with a side dish, a dessert and beverages are sure to satisfy your girlfriends. Sharing dishes that you regularly make grants you the needed confidence that they also will enjoy them, and, at the same time, gives your friends further insights into your personality. You may be surprised at how quickly your guests talk about their day or their lives over the course of the meal. There’s something about breaking bread together that breaks down barriers. A good time of heartfelt conversation builds trust and needed community.

Smell is an important memory-maker, so look for ways to incorporate it through freshly baked goods or home fragrance. Whichever you choose, you might consider creating a smaller portion or purchasing a travel size version for each guest to take home. By doing so, you reinforce the message that your setting conveys.

Music apps save the day when looking for a playlist that suits your gathering. Unlike a noisy scene when you go out with friends, a night at home means you control the tunes, allowing music to accentuate the evening and not dominate it. The goal in building community is for each woman to be heard and understood. When the night is done, she will depart knowing she experienced something special, and she will like the way she feels so valued.

One last element to consider is the sense of touch. Is there a hands-on activity that you can prepare in advance for your group to enjoy? If you know a local artisan that offers group instruction, invite her to be a part of the evening. Your girlfriends will love the opportunity to learn or hone a skill together. The possibilities are endless, and you can plan for something as simple as hand lettering, or an artistry requiring more time, such as painting or baking.

With a little foresight, your night a home will prove to be a great time enjoyed by everyone.

Article Written by: Renee Beamer