Forget the catch-ups in noisy restaurants, where you can only hear the conversation at one end of the table. Forget the shouted conversations in bars, where you wake up the next morning with a pounding head and a massive dent in your credit card.
The new and very cool way to catch up with friends is the adult sleepover, where we take inspiration from our kids and teens and crash at each other's places - or in a rented bach for the night - sleeping bags, PJs and night creams at the ready.
We know. The word sleepover conjures images of your teenage years, when you'd gather a group of friends and stay up all night talking about boys. They seem like something most adult women have consigned to a sweet but distant memory.
But adult women are exchanging their traditional catch-ups for the joy of spending a whole night (and breakfast too) with their friends.
The reason is simple: in our hectic, tech-dominated lives, they offer a chance to connect with friends on a much deeper level. The whispered discussions that take place after the lights go off – and half of the guests have fallen asleep – are the most intimate you'll have. Family, sex and relationships are dissected, but in a more contemplative manner than usual; confidences bear the air of the therapist's chair rather than an inebriated rant.
The sleepover trend is permeating our culture elsewhere. Pyjamas – the ultimate shut-eye signifier – are now legitimate partywear, Dua Lipa's New Rules video plays with the slumber party aesthetic, and even museums have clocked the zeitgeist – the Science Museum in London invites visitors to bed down among the exhibits for 'Astronights', while the Natural History Museum hosts 'Dino Snores For Grown-ups', where guests camp under the new blue whale skeleton.
'They're a great way of catching up, last longer than dinner or drinks and they're cheaper, too,' says book editor Samantha Bramley, 31, who's started having sleepovers a few times a year.
The main difference, now we're all grown up, is the task of pinning down the group can take longer, with it being harder to find a date when more than two people are free. On the plus side, friends you can't usually persuade out for a catch-up in a bar surprisingly say yes - the sleepover can appeal to your more introvert pals. And while wine is a must, it's not the focus.
Minus the pressure to create an amazing meal – it's sacrilege to spurn the sleepover holy trinity of supermarket pizza, chips and chocolate – the host can feel calm and relaxed. No one ducks out of the fun early to embark on a vertiginous tower of washing up, or kills the conversation by brandishing a blowtorch with which to put the 'final touch' on a preposterously showy pudding.
Certain activities are more successful than others. Board games are a hit but people have probably moved on from sharing ghost stories, and bouncing on the bed is more precarious now we no longer fit into clothes from Tammy Girl.
One of the loveliest elements of the adult sleepover is that it forces friends to cut through the artifice of adulthood. Catch-ups with alpha friends can be brisk post-work affairs, during which, still clad in blazers and intermittently checking emails, they remain half the austere, professional version of themselves. But it's impossible to play it cool when you're larking about in the bathroom, hair swept into a scruffy topknot, wearing PJs.
Most importantly, the usuals don't get to dash home, citing last bus/busy day at work/being a bit tired. With hours at your disposal, and without having to shout over loud music, conversation is sparky and wide-ranging.
As morning dawns, you realise you've bonded more with your fellow night owls than you have in years. Hanging out with friends who aren't wearing any make-up, and watching them nod off with their mouths ajar and glasses askew engenders a fresh tenderness towards them. You're reminded of their childhood selves and, in turn, of their vulnerability .
Of course, you can do the whole thing with grown-up glamour. The Zetter Townhouse, a London boutique hotel, offers a 'Grand Night In' package, where six friends can pass a night watching films, sipping cocktails and being pampered by their in-house salon in one of their opulent suites. The hotel started the nights after getting requests from women looking to fit more than just a couple in a room.
Female professionals book for birthdays, hen parties, or just a treat, says Natalie Raw, the hotel's head of press and marketing. 'People like the camaraderie. They relish the opportunity to stay in rather than go crazy on the town.' Waking up in a strange bed, then, is worth it – for the revelatory heart-to- hearts alone. Adulthood and sleepovers might be natural bedfellows after all.
- FitnessRunning just once a week lowers your risk of early death - here's how to get started
Good Health ChoicesToday 10:00am
- CareerMeet Christine Fernyhough - the intrepid Auckland housewife who took on a high country farm and won
The Australian Women's WeeklyToday 10:00am
- RelationshipsJay-Jay Feeney dishes on her sizzling summer with her 'toyboy' Minou
Woman's DayToday 8:00am
- MindHilary Barry's perfect clap back at a viewer: ‘Enough with the age-shaming’
Now To LoveJan 24, 2020
- Diet & NutritionDiet and ‘detox’ teas have been pulled from New Zealand shelves
Now To LoveJan 23, 2020
- CareerNigella Lawson's new direction at 60: 'I feel so much more open to anything and everything'
New Zealand Woman's WeeklyJan 23, 2020
- WeddingsIt's love-all for tennis star Michael Venus as he marries the mother of his child
Woman's DayJan 23, 2020