Make the Most of Your Gal Pal Time

Make the Most of Your Gal Pal Time

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Next time you cancel a girls' night out because of a crammed schedule, reconsider. Your physical and mental health could suffer for it.

A 2000 UCLA study found spending time with your ladies releases the hormone oxytocin, which relieves stress, and found that animals with a high content of the hormone tended to be calmer and more relaxed than those without it.

Apply the findings of this study to your life by not feeling so guilty about taking the occasional "ladies' night out" (Like Cincy Chic's upcoming ladies night July 12, 6-9pm, at the Wine Cellar in Hyde Park). Instead of coming home after work for a solo bowl of ice cream and an episode of "Desperate Housewives," make a night of it with a special friend or two.

Feel Like Dancin'?

A great way to spend time with your girlfriends is taking a dance class. CocoCabbana Dance Studios in Cincinnati Mills offers ballroom, line and salsa dancing, to name a few. Owner Rhea says not to worry about coming sans partner if ballroom dancing is your thing. Partners switch every so often to cultivate camaraderie among dancers, so you and your friends will have no trouble finding a hip-swinging Romeo.

But if dancing with strangers doesn't appeal, Rhea says it's no problem to set up a special hour lesson just with you and your friends, and your dance instructor of choice.     

Whatever your dance preference, the activity is a good one: you relieve stress by hanging with your friends, and, as Rhea points out, "Dancing is great exercise because it releases endorphins, which gets you up and gets you moving," she says. "Anytime you move to the music, you have a good time."

For the babe on a budget, get the same effect by renting a copy of "Flashdance" or "Footloose" and mixing up a jug of margaritas. (Warning: hilarious photos ensuing from said suggestion may end up on the Internet.)

Spend Time with Your First Love

Who is this fabled love? It's a thing, for starters. Chocolate, of course! Cultivate your first love for chocolate and you and your friends' affection for one another by participating in a tasting. Haute Chocolate of Montgomery Road can arrange a tasting event for ladies' night out.

"It's a great way to spend a hot summer night here in Cincinnati," says Lisa Cooper Holmes, owner of Haute.

Haute's evening of chocolate would begin with an introduction to chocolate, as well as a sampling of the three most common varieties: milk, white and dark. You can also watch employees make chocolate in the kitchen, and help out in the process yourself.

Cooper Holmes says what happens at the event is up to you. Haute offers a full menu and confections for dessert. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and lasts until 9 p.m., and costs $49.95 per person.

Looking to cut costs but not your chocolate intake? You and your gal pals can try your hands at chocolate at home pretty simply: buy some strawberries, a couple of different types of chocolate and drizzle your hearts out. Champagne optional, of course. Meier's Winery in Silverton offers great champagne at a great price, and you can taste before you buy unlike the grocery store brands.

Beads, Please

Another way to make your social life memorable is to commemorate one another's friendship by making each other jewelry. Crafty vixens can visit a bead store and take classes in making all kinds of jewelry, or just use a store's space, like many do at Beads N Things, a shop on Eastgate Boulevard in Cincinnati.

"Groups can come in and do beading if they want to have a ladies' night out," says Carol Lanter, owner of Beads N Things. "They can bring their beads, or buy them, and we'll help if they get stumped."

The store is spacious, and has tables set aside for those just wanting to bead in peace, Lanter says. Doing so usually results in relaxation, Lanter adds, especially when a group of friends is involved.

"The girls get together and they just love it," Lanter says. "It is so relaxing because your mind is totally free of everything else."

Classes last two hours, and cost $25-$35 depending on the jewelry kit you choose to make. The store offers semiprecious stones as well as high quality beads.

If you're not in need of professional beading help, visit your local department or craft store for do-it-yourself kits, and throw a summer BeadBQ. has an excellent selection of charms and Swarovski Crystal Beads. And, we hate to admit it, but Wal-Mart has a great bead selection, too.

Wine and Dine

Just like wine, friends get better with age. And why not have both?  A wine tasting is another option for your girlfriend time.

Henke's Winery on Harrison Ave. offers tastings of seven wines such as locally grown Vin de Rouge and Vidal Blanc at $5 per person. Additional tastings are only $1 per wine.

Visitors can also tour the cellars (reservations should be made a few days before), listen to live bands Friday and Saturday nights and enjoy appetizers or dinner with the winery's usual offerings. Joe Henke, owner and winemaker, says his winery is perfect for group outings. "One of the compliments of groups is they feel like it's a Mom and Pop's type place, with a Cheers-like atmosphere," he says. "Gather together, share a bottle of wine."

If you're a wine devotee but prefer the comfort of your own home, invite a select group of your wine sophisticate friends over for some of your personal wine and cheese selections.