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Illustration by Ashlie Juarbe

Treat Weeknights Like the Weekend

Logging off has never been so fun.

This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Weekdays are hectic. Once it comes time to log off of work, we end up digging to the back of our freezer for dinner and binging a show. But who said that weeknights can’t be just as good as the weekends — the time to unwind, relax, connect, and make memories with the people we love with a beer in hand?

We asked four staffers from New York to L.A. to share how they make the most of the weeknights for some inspiration for how to unwind — from a low-effort, high-reward dinner party to sunset strolls and picnic plans — all paired with a bottle of Stella Artois.

Throw a Light-Lift Dinner Party

Every other week, Jessica Barbosa, from Brooklyn, picks up 25 oysters and other seafood sourced from her local CSA to host her Wednesday night dinner parties. “They give [me] a reminder of the weekend before the weekend,” she says. “It’s a really fun challenge to come up with a menu. It lights that creative fire.”

Barbosa has her dinner parties down to a science. With the help of her roommates, she’s turned her backyard into the perfect space to have people over, complete with a picnic table and fairy lights, tiki torches, and a fire pit. And to take some pressure off herself as the host, she has guests chip in. “It’s all very family-style, spread out on the table,” she says. “It’s a very collaborative, fun hang.” She’s even taught her friends to shuck oysters. “I’ll put them to work,” she says. As for the rest of the seafood, she’ll pop steamers or clams in a pot with some Stella Artois, fresh herbs, and butter for a dish that comes together in minutes. And to drink, Barbosa also grabs a Stella. “It is a great pairing because it’s got this lightness, but also this crispness,” she says. “It’s perfect for the summer.”

Soak Up the Sunset

We all know what a long walk during the work week can do for our mood. But it makes a difference when you have a beautiful destination waiting for you. Charlene Chang of Los Angeles lives just blocks from the beach; after a long day at work, she’ll make sure to get out of the house and catch the sunset with her dog, ready to watch the sun slip behind the Santa Monica Pier.

For Chang, making time after work to unplug and connect with nature helps her decompress. Staring at the ocean and sunset “gives you perspective,” she says. “It’s a good way to immediately put yourself in a more calm and relaxing mindset and mood.”

Once the last rays are gone and the sky is streaked with pink and red, she’ll stop at a bar down the beach and order a drink before heading home. “I love Stella,” she says. “I also recently tried the non-alcoholic version and I was pretty impressed. I like it for sipping and relaxing. It’s a good unwinding beer.”

Plan a Potluck Picnic

After work, Karen Mandel of Chicago also takes advantage of what’s outside her apartment’s walls. “When I wake up in the same space I have to work, it’s extra important to be able to get outside and be with friends and turn my brain off,” she says. And it’s hard not to want to get outside after a long Chicago winter. “The moment it hits 50 degrees, the entire city is outside,” she laughs.

Mandel has a group chat filled with friends from college, making an after-work plan just a text away. “Someone will throw in the group chat, ‘Anyone want to go enjoy the sunshine?’” She says. Mandel and her friends will meet by Lake Michigan and coordinate who will bring the necessities: charcuterie, chips and dips, a blanket, and a speaker so they can relax and enjoy the night. Everyone brings something, so there’s no pressure of planning — and everyone is encouraged to invite a new friend, so everyone can meet new people and socialize. As for drinks, Mandel will pack a Stella or two.“If you’re sitting in the sun along the lake, it’s nice to have something a little bit lighter and refreshing,” she says.

Catch Up Over Drinks

Meanwhile, Kelseah Pierre lives right outside Miami. Once she logs off from work, she gets dressed up and heads straight for happy hour in the heart of the city. “I lean towards relaxing in chill restaurants where I am guaranteed a really good meal and a good drink,” she says. Most recently, Pierre stopped at a restaurant with a gorgeous outdoor patio framed by quintessential Miami palm trees, great drink deals, and fun shared plates like a calamari tower with sesame ginger aioli and spicy salmon tostones. “As important as the food is to a restaurant, the ambiance and the vibe of the entire place is also really important to me,” she laughs. “I am a sucker for a good picture.” After a few years of working remotely, Pierre has found new meaning in getting out of the house and connecting with the people she loves. ”I’ve gotten used to doing things at home and I’ve realized how much I missed going out to different places and how important it is to catch up with friends and family and make that time for people,” she says. “That makes the moment all the more special.”

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