With the nights getting darker and the weather getting colder, right now there’s nothing more inviting than a good night in, staying cosy and warm and gossiping with your favourite pals. My favourite thing about autumn is definitely being all snuggled up inside and listening to the wind and rain outside (not so much fun when you actually have to go out in it, though). Throughout November, Cancer Research are running a campaign called The IN Thing to encourage you to have a fun night in to raise money to help fight cancer. There are plenty of IN Thing ideas on the website, with everything from Come Dine With Me dinner parties, to pamper evenings, to a Stars In Their Eyes style karaoke night. This got me thinking about how I’d spend my ideal night in…
1. Comfy and Cosy
One of the most appealing things about a night in is the fact you don’t have to make lots of effort getting dressed up. Get your friends to bring their onesies and have a pyjama party, or at the very least make the dress code “woolly jumpers and fluffy socks”. Dig out as many blankets and throws as you can find (even better if they’re tartan) and make your living room into a cosy den suitable for a evening of lounging. Make sure to light lots of candles and switch on your fairy lights to make things super cosy.
2. Watching Films
It’s no secret that I’m an avid film and TV watcher, so it’s inevitable these would feature in my night in. You could pick a TV show that you all love and get each of your friends to choose their favourite episode – bonus points for trivia, quotes or themed food and drinks to go with it. Or you could choose a few movies and have a back-to-back filmathon. Choosing films for a night in is a surprisingly fine art; you’ve got to choose something that everyone will like, something that you’ve probably seen before (so it doesn’t matter if you get distracted by chatting) but not something that you’ve seen a billion times (a bit boring and no one’s going to pay attention). For a night in with friends, it’s got to be something fairly lighthearted, funny and easy to watch. If you’re stuck for ideas, late-90s Drew Barrymore has got you covered – The Wedding Singer and Never Been Kissed are personal favourites.
3. Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
No autumn night in would be complete without some hot chocolate, would it? I’ve never actually had one of the Starbucks salted caramel hot chocolates but I keep hearing people talk about them, so I decided to have a go at making my own homemade version. And it’s pretty great, even if I do say so myself! For this recipe (makes 2) you’ll need:
70g milk or dark chocolate (or swap for drinking chocolate powder)
40g light brown sugar
40ml double cream
Generous pinch of rock salt (not table salt!)
Whipped cream/marshmallows/etc to decorate
In a pan over a medium heat, melt the butter and add in the sugar. Stir for a few minutes until the sugar dissolves and loses its gritty texture. Add in the cream and stir well to combine. The sauce should now be a dark golden brown colour and a smooth, pourable consistency. Crush the rock salt (if necessary) into small crystals, and add to the sauce. Turn the heat down low to keep it warm.
Now either grate your chocolate or blitz it in a food processor to get it nice and fine. Heat up the milk (either in a pan or in individual mugs in the microwave) and stir in the chocolate until completely melted.
Add around 3-4 teaspoons of the salted caramel sauce to each mug along with the hot chocolate and stir well. Top each hot chocolate with some whipped cream and marshmallows, then drizzle on some more of the sauce. YUM.
4. Skincare Treats
If you’re hanging out in your jammies, you may as well go the whole hog and put on a face mask too. Get each of your friends to bring round a couple of their favourite fancy skin treatments or face masks, which will give everyone a chance to do some swapping and try out a new product for the evening. My favourites at the moment are the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask and the REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask – both smell divine and leave your skin feeling pretty lovely. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even try making your own face masks from what’s in your kitchen cupboards; there are plenty of “recipes” to have a browse through on Pinterest.
5. Being Nostalgic
Now that we’re all “grown up”, it’s pretty rare for all of my friends to be in the same place at the same time. So when we are able to have a night in together, it’s always nice to have a little reminisce about the good old days. Get on Facebook and dig out all the embarrassing photos from Freshers Week or your 18th birthday parties (the modern equivalent of flicking through old photo albums?!); this will no doubt descend into tales of all the funny things you’ve got up to together over the years. You could even turn it into a best pals version of Mr & Mrs and devise some questions to find out who knows each other best.
What’s your idea of a great night in? Remember to register on the The In Thing website for a free party pack and information about how to donate to Cancer Research. Instead of spending all your money on a new outfit, taxis, and lots of drinks, get your friends to donate what they’d usually spend on a night out to Cancer Research instead – plus you’ll get to have a great night in for free!