Prospecting for fun and healthy ideas to do with friends during the icy, inclement days of winter? Looking for a soothing, chemical-free, even delicious way to help balance and rejuvenate the body, mind, and soul?
How about hosting an eco-spa party, where friends get to enjoy the benefits of homemade, earth- friendly skincare and beauty products, and also healthy treats! If pampering yourself and best gal pals with an avocado and honey facial, warm raw sugar scrub, natural clay masks, fragrant massages, aromatherapy, and buttermilk-infused pedicures sounds a little bit like heaven amidst your usual grueling work and family schedule, an eco-spa party may be just what the doctor ordered.
While celebrated but pricey spas like the Golden Door, Canyon Ranch, and Two Bunch Palms offer soothing treatments that deliver you from frazzled to refreshed, even a few days can seriously rock your pocketbook. And, unless you go with a gaggle of friends, the “shared” experience is usually by iPhone or Facebook only. But by customizing the experience in your own living room, old and maybe some new friends get to participate, laugh, relax, and bond over a cup of steamy chai and a little reflexology.
For starters, you can purchase terrycloth robes but encouraging your guests to bring their own is certainly acceptable, as purchasing the amount you need for an event like this can be costly. To thank them for carting their own, you might warm each robe in front of the fire or briefly place in the dryer so guests feel spa-like right from the beginning. Scouring stores for pretty flip-flops at this time of year (think warm, soothing soaks and tingly pedicures!) might be worth the small investment for you, as chances are they’ll all be on the sale racks. Present them to each guest tied with a velvet ribbon and bottle of chemical-free nail polish. Companies like Zoya, Sephora, and Honeybee Gardens make some great, mostly environmentally-friendly shades.
Next, create the cozy, intimate, quintessential winter spa environment by lighting a fire if you have a fireplace, or perhaps purchasing a simulated fireplace, many available at hardware and big box stores starting at just under $100. Most come with a heating element as well, which can provide your guests with a dose of extra coziness.
To welcome guests with a little aromatherapy, simmer a mixture of orange and lemon slices, or maybe some cinnamon, apples, and cloves on the stove so that the air inside the house smells fresh and inviting–redolent of European spas tucked away at posh ski resorts.
When thinking about homemade products for your eco-spa day, consider that different skin types — dry; oily; sensitive — call for a variety of options. Accordingly, a facial bar (much like a salad bar) gives your guests the opportunity to choose what works best for them. For example, if skin is dry and chapped (and really whose isn’t as we plunge deeply into winter?!), a mashed, ripe avocado with honey provides a soothing mask to soften and moisturize. For sensitive skin, try mixing ½ cup dry oatmeal with 1 cup yogurt per guest; remove with a warm, moist washcloth. Oily skin does well with a mashed, ripe banana, a few drops of juice from a lemon or orange, and 2 tablespoons of honey.
For rough, dry skin on winter feet, one eco-spa idea involves preparing a mixture that includes 1 cup warm buttermilk, ½ cup raw sugar, 6-7 cups warm water, and a few drops of fragrant essential oil per person. Lactic acid in the buttermilk serves to soften and help remove dead skin. Sugar’s glycolic acid helps to exfoliate (don’t be afraid to rub a little). The addition of some marbles in the bowl will help massage tired feet. For a bonus aprÃ¨s-soak foot mask, mash together 1 ripe avocado, ¼ cup honey, and 1 tablespoon olive oil for the world’s softest feet. Wrap in warm, moist towels and relax.
For hands, what better way to moisturize and have fun doing it than to have guests participate in preparing a natural product? Try combining raw shea butter with oils such as jojoba, sweet almond, vitamin E and/or grapeseed, a little aloe vera gel, melted lanolin, glycerin, and up to 10 drops of a favorite essential oil like rose, clove, sage or cinnamon. Slather and enjoy, and be sure to provide pretty jars for friends to take some home.
For luscious, spa-licious treats, brew pots of steamy chai and chamomile tea. If you have a juicer, making fresh, healthy veggie and fruit juice to order adds to the fun, as does a tray of cut fruit or crudités with a pesto dip. Spa chicken salad finger sandwiches made with grapes, apples, and chopped walnuts, (use plain, low or nonfat yogurt instead of mayo) makes for a light and flavorful repast, and for those who indulge, dessert may include decadent homemade brownies, chocolate mousse, or maybe a fresh fruit tart. After all, they’ve probably worked up an appetite mixing up all that hand cream.
All in all, a winter eco-spa day is a special occasion for you and your closest friends, and even those destined to become new ones. United in the pursuit of comfort and joy, what better way to get there than sharing warm buttermilk foot soaks and honey avocado masks. Just don’t forget the camera–and next year’s calendar!