As a result of the current pandemic, thousands of college students are soon to be trapped in tiny dorm rooms and apartment suites for the upcoming semester, bringing new meaning to the phrase “spending the night in.” This past March, the concept of the “college experience” was forever changed, almost overnight—parties, clubbing, and even medium-sized indoor gatherings became morally unacceptable. This is incredibly disappointing, of course—I, myself, am still mourning the loss of my sophomore spring, as well as the impending fall—but students have a more important obligation to contend with: keeping our college communities and surrounding locales free of outbreaks. There is not a party in the world worth aiding in COVID-19’s devastating spread. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun within the safety of your own housing group.
So, how should we spend our weekends now that we can’t go to sweaty frat houses and grimy college bars? By bringing the party in. That’s right—theme nights. Because bitches love a theme.
Being a self-identified homebody—both pre- and post-pandemic—I have taken the liberty of curating a list of theme-night suggestions. Most of them are pretty dorky, but that’s what makes them (and staying in) fun; unlike huge ragers and tailgate parties, there’s no one you need to impress. Inside, among your closest friends, you can just be yourself.
Please enjoy these suggestions, be safe, and stay in your goddamn dorms.
This one’s a classic, and rightfully so. After all, what 2000s-era sleepover was complete without a glittery mani-pedi and a braid train? And when did the world decide that classic slumber party festivities were no longer in fashion? I would be overjoyed to have someone braiding my hair right now.
Spa nights are about intimacy and self-care, two things that we could all use a little more of in quarantine. Physical touch is scarce these days—and for very good reason—but there’s no harm in painting your roommate’s nails in the safety of your own living space. In fact, physical affection has actually been known to relieve stress and boost serotonin levels. Even if you’re living alone this semester, physical self-care rituals can help you reconnect with your body and mind. Just light a scented candle, grab your favorite skincare products, and add some music, and you’ll have your very own personal salon.
One of the things I miss most about pre-COVID life is going to the local bar for trivia night. Fortunately, all you really need to recreate this experience is a laptop and some friends, as both Netflix and Hulu boast six seasons of the famed quiz show Jeopardy!, hosted by the ever charismatic Alex Trebek.
Jeopardy! is fun to watch all on its own, but it’s even better when there are stakes. Maybe the roommate with the highest score gets to pick the takeout order next time, or the lowest scorer has to tweet their most embarrassing draft. If you’re in the mood, perhaps everyone but the highest scorer has to take a shot at the end of each round. Either way, you’ll learn some fun facts, and hopefully win some bragging rights.
S’mores are objectively one of life’s greatest joys. Simultaneously gooey, crunchy, and chocolatey, they are the holy trinity of desserts. Even though you can’t build a real campfire in your dorm—well, I guess you can, but you shouldn’t—that’s not a problem. All you need to achieve a perfect, golden-brown marshmallow is an open gas stove, an oven, or a candle.
If you’re going to roast your marshmallow over a gas stove or a candle, you’ll also need wooden chopsticks. With an oven, you can simply place the marshmallow on a sheet of tin foil and use the broiler setting until toasty. Sandwich the marshmallow between two graham crackers and a piece of chocolate; add cookie butter, caramel, or Nutella if you’re feeling adventurous. When the s’mores are prepared, set up some chairs in a circle, tell some spooky stories, and enjoy.
Sometimes, you just need to feel fancy. The occasional indulgence in the luxurious is what breaks up the monotony of everyday life, and inspires us to continue onward with the daily grind. Before COVID, this urge could be satiated by dressing up and going out to a nice restaurant, club, or upscale bar. Now, even though going out is no longer an option, getting tipsy still is. Thank God for small favors.
Between you and your roommates, procure a few bottles of wine, a small selection of cheeses, and a box of crackers; if you’re really feeling bougie, you can even indulge in a charcuterie board. Once you’ve secured the goods, pour some samples and pretend to understand wine-tasting vernacular. What’s the difference between an oaky red and a dry white? I have no idea, but both of them get you drunk and sound fancy as hell.
According to WikiHow, you can finish all eight Harry Potter movies in just under 20 hours—give or take a few hours for bathroom breaks, technical difficulties, etc. The Lord of the Rings series clocks in at just over 11 hours, The Matrix trilogy is nearly seven, and The Fast and the Furious almost reaches 16. A full movie-marathon binge is not for the faint of heart.
Despite what older generations may say, watching TV shows and movies with friends is a great way to bond: over mutual favorite characters, scenes, and soundtracks, or while developing various fan theories. Binging content has been and will remain an important aspect of life in quarantine; and while too much solo binging can become isolating, a movie marathon with snacks and friends is a wonderful way to spend a weekend.
NOTE: Any one of these suggestions could be improved upon with the addition of alcohol and/or other substances. Pick your poison!
By Isabelle Robinson
Illustration by Gabriella Shery