When it comes to hanging with your girlfriends, cocktails and gossip are starting to seem as antiquated as a pre-cell phone era Sex and the City episode.
Instead, we’re going on workout dates, meditating en masse, and, even more recently, joining women’s circles—all-female gatherings that often involve rituals, intention setting, learning, and sharing (with no judginess allowed).
Though there are plenty of opportunities on both coasts to get involved with a circle—The Den and Wanderlust Hollywood in Los Angeles and Maha Rose in Brooklyn hold them regularly, while independent women’s health practitioners such as LA’s Paula Mallis and Ashley Neese are also well-known hosts—a growing number of women are choosing to throw them in their own homes.
Shel Pink, founder of “slow beauty” brand SpaRitual, is one of them. “I was seeking a spiritual connection with friends—an expansive, creative, and open-minded experience grounded in tradition,” says Pink, when asked why she started hosting monthly circles in her Hollywood Hills home last year.
She adds that going deep with your girlfriends is truly vital in the age of overstuffed schedules and surface-level social media friendships. “I’m interested in knowing people, not their curated online personas. Each time we meet as a group, we give ourselves an opportunity to slow down.”
And those three hours of bonding time aren’t just fun—they might also make you a better human. “Spending time with people you enjoy, with whom you can be open and supportive, is a profound [aspect] of self-care,” says Pink. “And when we care for ourselves in deep, meaningful ways, we are best able to care for others and the world.”
Ready to trade your usual plans for something a little more soulful? Read on to discover five things this beauty boss has learned about leading a successful women’s circle—just don’t be surprised if your friends start fighting over who’s going to host.
1. Plan it by the stars
Pink’s crew gathers on the new moon each month to honor the Jewish holiday Rosh Chodesh—but even if you’re not religious, she says the new moon is traditionally an auspicious time to circle up. “It is a celebration of renewal for women, by women; a sacred time to reflect and set intentions for the month ahead,” she says.
2. Keep your invite list tight
Pink finds that 15 women is the winning number for her circles, and she stresses it’s important to keep the invite list the same each time. “A deep trust develops over time when a consistent group of women gets together regularly and have shared experiences,” she says. And when you trust the ones you’re with, you’re bound to open up more—and create more profound connections.
3. Pick a theme
To help set the tone of your gathering, it helps to choose a theme that can run throughout the evening—anything from joy to forgiveness to gratitude could work. In Pink’s case, “We begin by discussing the theme, and then come together with a candle-lighting ceremony that opens with a blessing. We go around the circle and light each other’s candles, and whoever would like to add to the blessing is welcome to do so. This ceremony is beautiful and is a way to pause, reflect, and set personal intentions for the month ahead.”
4. Bring in a special guest
Pink recommends hiring a healer, speaker, or expert to lead a mini-workshop relating to the theme—think sound baths, guided meditations, or poetry classes. (Most teachers are open to hosting small group sessions). “I personally select each guest speaker based on the theme to help us to deepen our connection to it,” she says. And don’t be shy about reaching out to your social media wellness crush—they’ll probably be stoked to join you. “A few of the speakers have become personal friends of mine,” adds Pink.
5. Don’t forget the food
Whether it’s catered, potluck, or prepared by the hostess, eating together is a big part of the women’s circle experience. A little healthy indulgence is welcome—even encouraged. “Wine is always served,” says Pink. We’ll toast to that!
Think you’re too busy to plan a circle for your gang? Not so fast. Here’s why author Gala Darling says you should prioritize your female friendships no matter what. And if you need some help building up your conscious clique, don’t stress—there’s an app for that.