Monday, December 12, 2011
DO-IT-YOURSELF HOME SPA PARTY
Are you tired? Overwhelmed? Stressed? Feel like you need a lift? Could you just use some gal time? Who couldn’t, right?!! A spa is great place to experience such a pick-me-up. But a trip to a spa can be costly, and these days, most of us are tightening up our spending a bit (and most of us would like to tighten up our tummies too. Hmmmm.). Well, the truth is, you can still have a spa experience and share it with a group of gal friends, and not have to spend bu-ku bucks. You just need to plan your own spa day at home. It can be done rather inexpensively (or more lavishly, depending on your budget), and it’s a nice “gift” if you will to share with your friends.
This past Sunday I hosted a spa party for 17 of my friends at my home. We started late morning and went until early evening. People could arrive or leave whenever they wanted. It was a relaxing, refreshing day. We might have been filling up our tummies more than we were tightening them, but we sure enjoyed ourselves in the process.
Here’s what you need to do to have your own home spa party:
Send out your invitations at least 2-3 weeks in advance, so that most of your guests will have enough notice to block out some time to be able to come. I used a spa design invitation available on evite. Evite had several cute spa party invitations to choose from.
SET THE MOOD
* Make your home a “testosterone-free zone” during the spa party. You need to make sure your husband and sons have an alternative activity they can do while your party is going on. Believe me, they’re not going to hang around. There is just something about aromatherapy candles and music CDs with “feng shui” in the titles that really creeps out a lot of guys. After I picked out the date and time for my spa party, the Sweat males in my household planned a “guys afternoon.” One of my sons’ friends (and the son of one of my guests) opted to hang out with them for the afternoon too. They went to Home Depot and Cabella’s, and then headed over to a friend’s home (the husband of one of my other spa party guests) to watch the Chicago Bears football game (I won’t say anything more about that, since I have one family member who is quite unhappy right now about how the Bears have been playing without Jay Cutler).
Here’s a photo of my husband, two sons and their friend, filling our fireplace with wood before our spa party. They wouldn’t look at my camera or me or my friends who were helping me set up; I think they were worried we already had robes on (but we didn’t!). But they were very sweet to get a fire going for us before they left. The crackling fire really added a lot to the whole spa ambiance.
If you have small children, you will probably want to send them to a babysitter or a relative’s house while you’re having your party. Ask your guests to leave their kids at home too. This is one event you’re not going to want any distractions from young children.
* Music Play List. My choices were two piano melodies: “A Peaceful Soak” by George Nascimento, and “Spa” by Roger St. Denis. We played each CD several times during the afternoon—not too loud—but enough we could hear them. They really set a relaxing, mellow mood for us, and nobody minded if we played the same tunes over and over again.
* Decorate. For a splurge, I ordered two eucalyptus scented candles Thymes (www.thymes.com). I don’t always like a lot of scented candles; sometimes they can smell artificial or too strong. But these Thymes candles have a wonderful, earthy fragrance that is not too strong, and each is advertised to burn for at least 40 hours. I placed about 20 other aromatherapy candles throughout my kitchen, dining room, family room and first floor bathrooms—some large, others smaller votives--all “herby” or earthy scents that complemented with, or at least didn’t compete with, the eucalyptus candles.
I also placed four wicker baskets filled with hand towels and wash cloths in various locations—my center island and countertop area in the kitchen, the coffee table in my family room, and on the seating area in front of the fireplace. This added to the spa feel, and also was very functional.
You can see in the very top photo at the beginning of this blog post that I also placed wooden massage hand tools out on tabletops--further adding to the spa atmosphere.
Most of the time the dress for any of my parties is “comfy casual.” That’s especially true for a spa party. Since my home was a “testosterone-free zone” for the day, I told my guests they were welcome to bring robes and slippers to change into once they arrived—just like you’d do at a “real” spa. Or, if they weren’t comfortable with that, at the very least I suggested they wear comfy sweat pants (elastic waistbands—my favorite!), soft and roomy shirts, and flip flops. Since the hot tub would be on all afternoon outside, I also encouraged guests to bring their swimsuits.
There are many different treatments you can offer at your home spa. I decided to focus on the face, hands and feet. It’s good to designate a room in the house for each of your spa services, and have a schedule in mind of what you plan to do when. First, we did the face and hand treatments in the kitchen (although guests were welcome to recline in the family room while their masks were on) and that followed with the foot treatments in the family room. Lunch was mid-afternoon. We did detox wraps and Mary Kay makeovers after lunch. I sent out my schedule ahead of time to my evite list of what I was planning. That way if guests only had a couple hours free to come to the party, they could choose when to arrive. Not everyone could stay for the full 11 am to 5 pm block of time I had allotted for the event.
For the face, we had four different kinds of masks that guests could choose from. All of the ones I chose were good for normal to dry “sensitive” skin, and helped add softness and moisture. The ones with fruit and grains help to naturally exfoliate the skin, cleansing deeply into the pores.
The first three mask mixtures were homemade concoctions. You can’t make these up too far in advance, but I didn’t want to have to stop and mix them up after everyone arrived either. So I made these up about 1 hour before guests arrived. Each of these recipes makes enough for 2-4 people.
* Dark chocolate mask
2/3 cup cocoa
¼ cup heavy cream
2 T. cottage cheese
½ cup honey
2 T. oatmeal, ground finely
Mix all of the ingredients together in a blender until smooth.
1 cup oatmeal
2 T. flax seeds
2 T. dried lavender buds
1/3 cup Bentonite or white cosmetic clay (available at Whole Foods and health food stores)
2-3 T. almond or olive oil
Optional but a nice touch: 1-2 drops of lavender essential oil
Put ingredients in a food processor or coffee grinder and blend to create a smooth, thick paste.
*Avocado banana mask
1 ripe avocado, pitted
1 ripe banana
2 T. flax seed or whole wheat flour
¼ cup plain or vanilla yogurt
Mash together the banana and avocado with a potato masher. Add the flax or flour and the yogurt and blend until smooth.
* Black mud masks. One of my guests brought a jar of Dead Sea Black Mud, which many of us used on our faces. This was great! Dead Sea mud is known for alleviating dry, dull skin, along with helping with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and acne. Made with Dead Sea minerals, plant extracts, seaweed, olive oil and other organic matter, this product is good for all over your body, not just on your face. It’s easy to use. Just apply about a 1/8 inch layer to your skin, leave on for 20 minutes until completely dry, and then rinse off with warm water. You can buy a 16-oz. jar of this product from Amazon.com for $25.49 (with free shipping). My guests loved it!!
The same person who brought the black mud, also brought some lovely sugar scrubs—in very soothing, minty scents—for us to use to apply to our faces when removing our masks. I also had facial moisturizers on hand to use post-face masks.
Before the party, I had gone down to Dollar Tree and Dollar General and bought several packages of cloth hair bands and ties, so that guests could tie back their hair. I also bought small spatulas and spongy paint brushes for applying the masks. These were all set out on the countertop. So the first thing everyone did was tie back their hair. Guests found a partner, and then each would gently spread the mask mixture on the other’s face. Then they could lie in a reclined position for the next 15-20 minutes, with cucumber slices on their eyes (which we all know soothes tired eyes). Afterwards the masks were rinsed off with warm water and a soft cloth.
For the hands we had:
* Pumpkin Hand Mask/Wrap
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
¼ cup honey
Mix pumpkin and honey together; warm slightly in microwave. Dip hands in bowl to get a good coating of the pumpkin mixture. Put each hand into a gallon-sized plastic bag and press bags around hands. Relax with the bags tightly around your hands for 15 minutes before rinsing.
* Paraffin wax treatments. I got out my HoMedics ParaSpa paraffin wax bath, and guests took turns dipping their hands in for a warm melted wax treatment. Afterwards, everyone placed plastic gallon-sized storage bags on their waxed hands. After 15 minutes, the bags and wax were removed, and our hands felt soothed, hydrated and smooth. It’s welcome relief during cold weather when our skin is dry and chapped!
For the feet we had:
*Herbal foot soaks
I set out 8 plastic dishwashing tubs for guests to take turns using for soaking their feet. I found some wonderful recipes online and in some of my home spa recipe books for making homemade foot soaks. I also found a product online called Dancin’ Feet Herbal Foot Soak (available from www.localharvest.com) and decided to go with that instead of making my own, since it was a really good price and actually less costly than making my own concoctions. A 5 oz. bag costs $4.95, and each bag is filled with a mixture of peppermint, rosemary and thyme leaves, Yarrow flowers, orange peel, rose petals, sea salt, oatmeal and essential oils. It comes with muslin bags, which you fill, and then toss into a tub of warm water. Basically it’s like a foot soak tea bag, and it smells so-o-o-o good! We got about 8 foot soaks out of each package.
After soaking their feet, guests could apply foot creams and a nice, herby peel-off foot masks (I bought several tubes of Earth Therapeutics Tea Tree Oil foot peel for this). I also plugged in my HoMedics Elite Foot Massager and set it down in front of a comfy chair—which provided professional deep kneading massage with heat for the feet—for guests to use.
For all of these treatments, you’ll need bathroom areas and kitchen sinks available so guests can clean and rinse. We had two guest bedrooms downstairs and an extra large double sink on our center island that everyone could use for this. Besides the baskets of hand towels and washcloths that I already mentioned, I also set out a basket of disposable facial wipes, cotton balls and Q-tips on the kitchen counter, along with a large magnifying makeup mirror which was helpful for guests who were applying their own masks.
I know a gal who sells Mary Kay makeup, and she was available to do makeovers for anyone who wanted. This was offered after all the other treatments were done, and we had this gal set up in our front office, which served as her own makeup salon.
If guests wanted, they were welcome to use the outdoor hot tub any time during the afternoon. I had a stack of beach towels ready for them and at their disposal, and plastic goblets too so they could sip and chat outside in the tub.
* “It Works!” detox wrap
In addition to the services already mentioned, I also ordered a number of It Works! body and chin/neck detox wraps that guests could purchase. Most of us have a lot of toxins in our body. They come from environmental pollutants, and the foods we consume (soda, alcohol, coffee and processed foods are some of the biggest culprits!). If we’re under a lot of stress, that can cause more toxins to build up in our bodies. These toxins are stored in our fat cells. As more toxins build up, our fat cells increase in size(and therefore our body size). The wraps from It Works are designed to detox your body, causing you to skin to tighten and tone up. You lose inches in the process. The majority of my guests took advantage of the opportunity to try either or both a chin/neck or body (which was applied to the tummies) wrap. We did these towards the end of the afternoon, following lunch. The wraps were left on for 45 minutes, during which guests were to drink 2-3 glasses of water. As is typical, after their wraps were removed, my guests reported that they lost between ½ and 2 inches on their waistline. I haven’t talked to any of my guests in the last 24 hours, but generally people lose even more in the 72 hours after a wrap treatment. I can’t wait to hear how they did! I do think this is a great product, one that is a perfect addition to a spa party. If you’d like to have It Works! at your own spa party, or if you’d just like to get more information, here’s a website you can check out: http://trimyourbody.itworks.net.
Other spa services you could offer at your own spa party: You can hire licensed professionals to come and give mini-services without all the extras like robes and slippers. A nail tech gives manicures and pedicures, a massage therapist gives massage, and an esthetician can give mini-facials and do make-up. You can find them online, or, you could call a local beauty school to see if one of their graduates or students could come out and do facials and manicures.
Sometimes athletic clubs can refer you to massage professionals. I found one masseuse who did shoulder massages for $1 a minute, plus a $20 set-up fee. She only required that we could provide her a minimum of two hours of work. Guests would just need to pay for the number of minutes they wanted her massaging them. We ended up not using her, though, because we didn’t have enough people who wanted shoulder massages. Still, I thought I’d mention this anyway, just in case you might want to do it at your own spa party.
The great thing about spa parties is there’s a long list of treatments you could offer. You could offer manicures, pedicures, yoga sessions, facials, massages — the choices are endless. You just have to choose which services are best for your particular group of guests.
Late morning and all afternoon snacks and refreshments:
**Pitchers of ice water with fruit, cucumbers, mint leaves
**One beverage dispenser filled with iced strawberry pomegranate herb tea and a pitcher of iced blueberry herb tea
**Bottles of sparkling water and sparkling juice/cider
**Hot herb tea and decaf coffee service
**Fresh fruit platters
**Raw vegetables and dip platters
**Trays of garlic humus and pita chips
**Garlic cheeseball and crackers
**Mini banana nut bread loaves and mini cranberry pumpkin bread loaves--sliced
About 2:30 pm, I served lunch, which was a large tossed salad bar buffet on my kitchen center island, which I called “Sweat Tomatoes.” (I put the sign next to the bowl of tomatoes, which literally were “Sweat tomatoes,” because my husband had just picked from our garden.) Guests could choose from the following to make their own customized tossed salads, just like they would get a Sweet Tomatoes restaurant:
--Red-tipped leaf lettuce
--Shredded red cabbage
--Sliced green onions
--Sliced fresh mushrooms
--Sliced red, yellow and green bell peppers
--Garbanzo beans (chick peas)
--Canned black beans
--Grilled, marinated chicken, cut in strips
--Diced hard-boiled eggs
--Candied walnuts for salads
--Grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses
--Eight different salad dressings (including my favorite, homemade creamy cilantro)
For dessert, we had:
--Mini chocolate and raspberry mousse cups for dessert
--Belgian chocolate cup candies
Several of my guests offered to bring food items, and I had them bring a lot of the afternoon snack trays and bottled beverages, and fruit salad for dessert. That eased my workload and helped me in terms of refrigerator space (I only have space to store so many trays and bowls of food that have been prepared!).
We had a lot of food leftover, but that meant I had something to feed to my hungry husband and sons after they returned home that evening. Since the Bears lost in overtime, I made sure to have some leftover chocolate cups on hand to give to my literally-grieving 16-year-old son. I was also able to send some “doggie bags” (or more appropriately, “hubby bags”) for the husbands of ladies who had come to the party. We usually have a lot of leftover food, and can’t eat it all by ourselves. I always try to have disposable plastic containers on hand for big parties, so that guests can take some extra food home. And some gals did assemble some salads for their husbands before they left on Sunday.
It’s nice if you can give some beauty-related party favors to all of your spa party guests. I had a basket of homemade soaps and hand lotions setting out in a large basket, and let guests know they were welcome to pick out some to take home.
It may sound like a lot of work. There are ways you can cut down on expenses and prep work. For instance, you could just serve snacks. Actually, we had so many snacks sitting out on different tables during the day, many of my guests thought that WAS the meal. Some were surprised when I announced that the salad bar was ready. So you could just have snacks and put on the invitation that you would like everyone to bring a snack of some kind. I didn’t do that with this. I only had people bring food if they asked. If you wanted to have the salad bar, you could ask each guest to bring 1-2 salad bar items.
Well, I think I’ve probably given you a pretty good idea of what you can do at a spa party. It’s really a wonderful way to relax and unwind with your gal pals. Even you’re the one who’s hosting, with planning, you’re sure to come away feeling relaxed and refreshed—along with your guests!
Happy home spa-ing!