Relax, Refresh: Spa Party Essentials

Admit it. You love any excuse to invite the girls over and show off your skills in the kitchen. Whether it's for the holidays, book club or a birthday, you're the first to volunteer to host. But even the hostess with mostess needs some R&R from time to time, so make the next get-together a spa party so you and your best girls can unwind and catch up.

Set the Mood

Lighting is essential to create a soothing environment, so turn down the lights or forgo them altogether in favor of candle light. Use an assortment of unscented white candles instead of scented varieties to avoid the overpowering fragrance that results from hours of burning. Scent the room using essential oils instead. Mimic the soothing scent of your favorite day spa by using an essential oil diffuser filled with a blend of eucalyptus and lavender oils. The aroma will calm the senses and help melt away the stress of the day. Set out a platter of freshly steamed hand towels on your entry table. This will make a great first impression on your guests and they'll feel as though they've just walked into a real spa.

Start with a Dip

Begin your evening of relaxation with a soak in the hot tub. Make sure that it's clean and in working order at least a week before the party so that you have time to replace any parts, if necessary. If you don't have a hot tub, a dip in the swimming pool is also relaxing. You can always fill up the bathtub or a kiddie pool to soak your feet before starting pedicures. Soaking is essential to soften the rough skin on your feet. It also makes it easier to slough off the dead skin with a pumice stone or file.

What to Serve

Prepare a few trays of fresh fruit and vegetables for guests to nibble on. Instead of calorie-laden desserts, satisfy your sweet tooth with dark chocolate-covered almonds, dried cranberries and some yogurt-covered pretzels. For drinks, infuse a pitcher of water with cucumber, lime and mint. Also, create a signature cocktail for guests who want to imbibe. A white wine spritzer is easy to prepare and is especially refreshing after a long day. Simply mix one-part sparkling water with two-parts Sauvignon Blanc and serve over ice with a twist of lemon.

Make a Mask

In addition to pedicures, another easy spa "service" to offer everyone is facials. While drugstores have a wide assortment of options for face masks, you can quickly mix up one of your own for less money. One go-to recipe uses two teaspoons of honey, three tablespoons of yogurt and the juice of half a lemon for each application. To make this mask extra soothing, mix it up the night before the party and chill it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it. Apply it to your freshly washed face and wait 15 minutes for it to dry before removing the mask with a hot, wet washcloth.

Give a Goodie Bag

Gift each guest a goodie bag filled with a few treats so they can keep the relaxing vibe going at home. Include a bottle of nail polish in a classic shade, some extra thick hand cream and a small sachet of bath salts to create an inexpensive yet thoughtful party favor.

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