“Let’s Stay In”-gredients: Everything You Need For A Solid Night At Home

To put it mildly, 2020 has had some twists. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer have assumed places of reverence in our supply closets and in our hearts. Crossing the street to avoid your neighbors when out for a walk is now considered to be the height of politeness. When our friends and family go to the grocery store we wish them luck like we’re Colin Firth at the beginning of 1917, sending soldiers off on a perilous, uncertain mission. We take our yoga classes on Zoom.

Another strange thing, in an upended world order comprised entirely of strange things: the weekends now belong to introverts.

For so long, the hallowed hours between Friday and Sunday have been the dominion of the outgoing, the natural and necessary habitat for the most demonstratively social among us. Parties, concerts, bars and restaurants, meeting for drinks, lining up for brunch, and whatever else we did back in those halcyon days when we actually left the house– that is where extroverts traditionally thrived. Now, all of those options are suddenly forbidden, and I imagine there are plenty of uninhibited, spontaneous types who have found themselves at quite a loss.

As a registered introvert myself I bristle at the misconception that we’re all blanketly timid, passive and bad at small talk. It isn’t that we hate being part of a crowd, but that the experience can often be draining, and as such we require intermittent periods of solitude in order to recharge. I love all of the weekend activities described above, but I have been known to check my phone between shots of tequila to see if an acceptable amount of party time has passed so that “alone on a train with headphones time” may begin.

With this resounding proof of how fun I am, I would like to humbly offer my services as you prepare for yet another weekend of social distancing. You see, I have a very particular set of skills, and nearly all of them involve making the most out of time spent alone.

As I have been reliably informed by the writers of the New York Times Cooking Newsletter, now is not the time for rigidly adhering to recipes. While we all make the best of whatever is currently in our pantries, I urge you to take the same attitude towards the elements I’ve listed here– combine them, substitute them, improvise as you will. Put together a night in that best suits your own personal tastes and don’t worry about following along with this list exactly, as it’s meant mostly as an inspiring suggestion. After all, “doing whatever you want” is one of the very best parts of being on your own.

Tumblr Bedrooms With Fairy Lights Ceiling Tumblr Fairy Lights Bedroom Tumblr

Basic Ingredients

  • robe
  • socks & slippers
  • pyjamas
  • blanket
  • candles
  • face mask or other beauty treatment
  • tea or hot chocolate, spiked or otherwise
  • something baked inside a mug
  • music
  • books
  • tv show or movie


I. The Treat Yo’Self

For some reason The Office gets all of the shine but I’ve always been of the opinion that Parks and Recreation is the superior Mike Schur- produced mockumentary- style workplace comedy. During these tense times, the show’s immaculate blend of wholesomeness, absurdity and lightheartedness makes for an ideal antidote. Even better, you can take inspiration from the characters to bring some of that wholesome absurdity into your own life– namely “treat yo’self.” This is a tradition celebrated by Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, two lower level employees of the Pawnee Parks Department, in which they spend one full day indulging their every materialistic whim. No clothing item is considered too impractical, no mimosa is short on champagne– it is, as they repeatedly say “the best day of the year.”

Current circumstances prevent us from wrecking havoc in an actual shopping mall or luxuriating at a physical spa, but there’s no reason you can’t make manifest the treat yo’self philosophy right in your very own home. To start: satin. As in this buttery (1) satin camisole and its matching satin joggers. Pair these with an equally delicate (2) lace robe or pay a more literal homage to Tom & Donna with the (3) official treat yo’self robe straight from the NBC store. Bring a corresponding grandeur to your feet with some (4) impossibly fluffy slippers.

Now that you’re all dressed up with nowhere to go, exactly as you planned it, create some atmosphere with a (5) candle that is ludicrously overpriced. Amplify those Marie Antoinette vibes by applying the gold standard in (6) face masks or, for a different kind of decadence, try (7) my favorite one from Lush, which basically feels like smothering your face in cake batter, but it’s somehow still good for your pores.

There is no treating yo’self without an actual, literal treat– something chocolatey, caramel-y, ice-creamy, or ideally, all three, as with this (8) ultimate gooey caramel brownie mug cake sundae (a mouthful in every sense), to be accompanied by a beverage that is richness itself, (9) hot buttered bourbon.

The most indulgent way I can think of to spend an evening alone is to listen to an album in its entirety. Music is so often relegated to background noise, and the streaming landscape lends itself better to singles and shuffle, so making the effort to give a full record its due feels like a delightfully nostalgic choice, like making sourdough bread from a starter, or performing any kind of pickling. You could go with a classic here, something you already know you love from start to finish, or, if you’re looking for something new-ish, (10) Fine Line by Harry Styles has impressed me mightily, and more important, it has impressed Her Excellency, Stevie Nicks, who is allegedly using this record to soundtrack her own quarantine and has called the album Harry’s Rumours. She would know.

II. The Library

A room full of books is the natural habitat for introverts– at least, it is for this one. Now that we’re all barred from public libraries for the foreseeable future, it is up to us to create our own soothing literary sanctuaries.

We begin with the obvious: reading material. Now is an excellent time to start putting a dent in that list of books you’ve been meaning to read, but if you need a few suggestions I am more than happy to help: the tv show adaptation has so far been a little underwhelming but (1) Little Fires Everywhere is gripping enough to be read in one evening. Harlan Coben is my favorite bestselling mystery writer, and his latest, (2) The Boy From The Woods looks like the perfect action-packed distraction from the day’s anxiety-inducing headlines. Similar to this use of books-as-balm, I’ve lately been drawn to the comfort of old classics like (3) Little Women. Not only does this book evoke warm childhood memories for me, but in a strange twist, the Civil War- set novel feels more relevant than ever, as the March sisters spend their days at home attending to domestic work and inventing imaginative ways to pass the time– relatable.

Of course, if your brain is buzzing too much to focus on one narrative all night, you could also occupy yourself with another great library pastime: catching up on magazines. It goes without saying that your home likely doesn’t have the library’s wealth of back issues, but you can have the digital equivalent with (4) Apple News+. I will always believe in the aspirational power of magazines, from institutions like Vogue and Rolling Stone to more niche publications like Vegetarian Times or The Cut. There is no sour mood that flipping through a few glossy pages cannot immediately cure.

Now that you’ve established your evening’s foundation in the printed word, you can extend that theme to all your cozy accoutrements, as in these (5) library themed candles by Paddywax or a pot full of some aply named (6) Novel Teas. Literally wrap yourself up in the pages of a favorite book with (7) this most literary of throws, and demonstrate your academia all the way down to your toes with some particularly (8) nerdy slippers.

Walt Whitman was famous for baking coffee cakes and giving them away as gifts, and if you’d like to contain an equal amount of multitudes, try this recipe for coffee cake (9) baked into an actual coffee cup.

Finally, all of that reading can wreck havoc on your eyes so take proper care of them with (10) a creamy avocado eye treatment.

III. The Slumber Party For One

Slumber parties were my entry point into the party planning world, and I like to think I threw some memorable ones. At twelve, I made my dad set up a tent to match my intended circus theme. The next year I made my dad set up a screen and projector so I could recreate a drive in movie theatre. This nostalgic, solo rendition is comparatively less elaborate, no dad assembly required, but should still keep you giggling until midnight.

Dress up for the occasion in your best (1) suit pyjamas paired with some (2) whimsical slippers. Break into your old Spacemaker for the supplies you need to make and then burn some (3) melted crayon candles. Keep that DIY spirit going by trying any of these (4) at-home face masks, all of which involve ingredients you likely already have in the pantry.

For a classic slumber party menu you might order pizza, or try making a single serving of the ultimate comfort food, (5) mac and cheese. Some (6) edible cookie dough is another obvious must, and should naturally be accompanied by a large mug of (7) boozy white hot chocolate, topped with liberal amounts of whipped cream and sprinkles.

We didn’t have Netflix when I was a tween, but today I’m grateful for the glut of romantic comedies it offers. Classics like Clueless, Bridget Jones’ Diary or How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days; their newer in-house offerings which include Set It Up and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Your only criteria should be finding a movie that you’ve seen roughly a dozen times before. This isn’t the night for stiff new jeans, but for well worn pyjama pants, possibly ones with holes in them– metaphorically speaking.


I think it probably goes without saying, but I haven’t been paid for any of the above links, and all of my recommendations come from a place of genuine love. Corruption has not yet come to ainsleymacintyre.com, and at least for now you can rest assured that my intentions are pure and true.

Hopefully you’ve found some inspiration here to put together the kind of night in that settles your soul and provides some respite during this period of dramatic change and uncertainty. Whether you treat yo’self, go full bookworm or throw it back to your pre-teen days, it is my sincerest wish that you find a way to be healthy and safe and happy until social distancing comes to an end. As a lifelong introvert, an infinite stretch of nights on the couch should be something akin to my personal paradise. But as it turns out, nights in are only fun so long as you still have the option to be elsewhere. So I’m ready to relinquish weekends back to the extroverts. I can’t wait to go back out again.

3 thoughts on ““Let’s Stay In”-gredients: Everything You Need For A Solid Night At Home

  1. “But as it turns out, nights in are only fun so long as you still have the option to be elsewhere!”

    I know, right?! Igor and Ema would often go to Huron park swimming pool and because chlorine bothers me, I let them go by themselves (enjoying some time alone 😊. Now, all of the sudden I miss it, I want to go 🥺!
    Lovely piece as always Ainsley! I think I’ll try that bourbon 😉


  2. Coffee cake in a coffee cup? Beautiful. And the reason people who are known as introverts don’t do small talk is because they, um, like, you know, choose their words carefully. They do the old-think-before-they-speak thingamajig. So they only do big talk. And write big write! Plus surprise surprise your blog made me thirsty again.


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