Life is hectic and everyone is busy. While that's an ongoing reality for many, it's also true that time with good friends can be therapeutic. Planning a girls night out is a great way to schedule some dedicated ladies-only time to relax and nurture yourself and your friendships.
These 10 etiquette tips will keep the focus on recharging your batteries and reconnecting with your friends on your next girls night out.
1. Plan it around your interests and budget. A girls night out can be a group of friends dressing up and going to dinner or drinks. Or it can be friends gathering at someone's house to spend the evening in their pajamas chatting over hot cider, cocoa and snacks. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, just an opportunity to spend time with friends.
2. No flaking out. Sometimes we excitedly make plans a few weeks ahead of time, then our enthusiasm fizzles out the day of the get-together. Keep the commitment you made even if you're tired, had a hard day or just don't feel like it. Other friends have planned their schedules around you. Don't cancel unless it's a real emergency.
3. Be clear in your invitation. Avoid confusion by specifying when you extend the invitation that your event is for "girls only"— no kids, no husbands—so you have time to focus on catching up with each other.
4. Carpool. Not only does it save on gas money, but adds an element of safety if you are out late (not too late—nothing good ever happens after midnight). Plus, sharing a car or cab gives you more time to visit with friends.
5. Leave with the friends you came with. Even if you see other pals while you're out, stick with your original plan. You made plans to spend time with this specific group, don't abandon them for others.
6. Expand your circle of friends. On a night out with the girls, invite one or two people you don't know very well. You'll broaden your social circle and give others the opportunity to meet new people too.
7. Use the camera with caution. If you are compelled to document the evening with a photo, make sure you get the picture early on in the evening, when everyone is at their best. Don't post anything on Facebook without permission from friends in the photo. (Read more on #10)
8. Make it a girlfriends' getaway. Try an out of town adventure with friends. Perhaps you or one of your friends has access to a lake house or weekend retreat. Another possibility: a weekend away at the beach or a quaint little town for some antiquing can be very reasonable when a few friends share the costs of accommodations and gas money.
9. Turn your technology off. Stay off the phone and computer. Tell your family to call you only if it's a true emergency and to say good night. Otherwise, put away all electronic devices unless absolutely necessary.
10. Facebook prudently. Before posting any GNO pictures online, stop and think: if it were you in the picture, would you be happy to have the world see the shot? Also, remember that not everything needs to be on social media. Posts about your fun evening with the gals can cause hurt feelings among friends who weren't invited.
Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.dianegottsman.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.