So here’s the thing. We all know that women provide such a powerful buffer to our worlds; a unique relationship that can not be replicated – not by our husbands, not by our children, not by our own company. And yet, our friendships are usually the very first things we drop when life suddenly gets busy and overwhelming. This ends up hurting us because scientists have shown that while males respond to stress and threat with a fight-or-flight reaction (aggression or withdrawal), females characteristically respond with tend-and-befriend. They combat threat and stress by tending to offspring or nurturing others, seeking out a social group for support. It is a detailed phenomenon and I won’t go into too much more, but it seems women are innately built for social connection – biologically, we actually need it for survival, and our hormonal make-up drives these natural, instinctual behaviors.
So many people write to me wishing they had a Red Tent in real life they could go to, and to that I say, why can’t you? Why can’t you create a real Red Tent, with the good women already surrounding you, and why can’t you start one right this very minute? How amazing would it be if we started seeing Red Tent women’s groups popping up all over the place so that Tend and Befriend became our way of life?
This is the year. This is the year we start creating our own Red Tent nights, however deep and hippified, or light and fun you want them.
Here are 10 ideas to host your very own Red Tent night.
1. Dress Code: Pajamas Only
Also translated to Yoga Pants Only. The dress code, basically, must be No Effort Required, because: tired. We are all extremely tired. The entire glorious point of these nights is to CHECK OUT. We don’t Tend and Befriend by out doing each other with our flashy hair and outfits. The best grounds for tending and befriending is unmade, always. So, Cozy and Comfy it is.
2. Bring Your Feel-Goods
Before your friends come, have them write on a piece of paper one thing they admire or love about each of the other women coming. You can take turns having each person’s great qualities read aloud, or tuck them into envelopes addressed to each woman so they can take them home to read in their own time; their very own feel-good party favour, like chicken soup for the soul. No doubt they will boost the spirit of each woman long after her Red Tent night is over.
3. Create a Spa Bar
Face masks, nail polish, massage oil — grab whatever you have at home to set out a pamper corner for you and your friends to indulge in. Take turns tending and being tended to, and everyone will experience how nice it is to nurture and feel nurtured.
4. Clothes Swap
Have your friends bring one item of clothing they don’t wear anymore — a dress they’ve grown out of, a skirt they don’t like the pattern of anymore, a top they bought with the greatest of intentions but doesn’t really go with anything else in their wardrobe. Have your friends swap their pre-loved clothes with another friends’ and everyone goes home with something new — all without spending a cent!
5. Truth Circle
If you want to get really sisterhood-ish, open up a truth circle. Take turns talking about what is really on your mind – what you are struggling with, what you want constructive, supportive criticism about, what you need help with, or questions you’d really like to ask, with honest answers to. It might be worthwhile pre-warning your guests about this so they don’t feel put on the spot. Each speaker holds something which gives them the ability to speak, so nobody can talk while anybody else is talking. This is to ensure that everybody feels heard and not interrupted. Ultimately, the truth circle is a huge experiment in trust, but once one woman becomes real and vulnerable, it quickly opens space for others to follow suit. It could add a really supportive and binding element to your Red Tent night.
6. Book Swap
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Bring a book you loved reading, and everyone swaps their book with someone else’s. Return the book to its owner at the next Red Tent night, and swap again! Likewise, you could start a little mini book-club, if a lot of your friends are avid readers.
7. Get Watching
If you want a really relaxed, chilled-out night, watch a movie together — a classic like Thelma and Louise, or Beaches, or Little Women. Or you can schedule your Red Tent night so it coincides with the Oscars, or the Golden Globes, if that takes your fancy. Score the red carpet dresses out of 10 and wear some fake pearls and jewels over your pajamas to really get into the spirit of things.
Definitely no cooking for the hostess, unless she actually truly dooly enjoys it. Order pizza. Ring for Thai. Say it after me, R-E-L-A-X, relax.
9. Goal Circle
In keeping with the whole circular-type activities which always sound more hippie than they actually have to be, how about starting a Goal Circle. Each woman states a goal she wants to reach – an exercise in not only holding each other accountable in going after what we really, truly want, but a great exercise in thinking about what it IS we really, truly want. Remember goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-specific.
10. Party Favours
Pick up some inexpensive spritzer bottles, fill them with water, add drops of some great essential oils, and voila’: some easy take-home party favours for your girlfriends, bringing some self-care home with her to spritz on her pillow at night, or on her body after a shower.
Of course, feel free to add any ideas specific to your friends and interests, but whatever you do, start celebrating the women in your life today– make more time for them, find new and nourishing things to do together, start your own traditions, share a little bit more depth with one another, and invest in the relationships which will sustain you for years – and hardships – to come.
“Sophia Mercer,” Elodie intoned, “we have come to induct you into our sisterhood. Say the five words to begin the ritual.”
I blinked at her. “Are you freaking kidding me?”
Anna gave an exasperated sigh. “No, the five words are ‘I accept your offer, sisters.”
― Rachel Hawkins, Hex Hall
SISTER ON SISTERS! I will make a little post after I host a Red Tent night of my own but in the meantime please, hashtag #redtentgirlsnight with any pictures of your night so we can share the tending and befriending, too.