About Last Night
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Behold, The Recipe For The Perfect Morning-After Debrief

Sweatpants are required, caffeinated beverages highly recommended.

by Morgan Sullivan
Emma Chao/Elite Daily; Getty Images/Stocksy

A running joke in my friend group goes like this: We’d hate for the world to end for many reasons. But first and foremost, we'd hate it if life as we know it ceased to exist because we wouldn't get to debrief about it the following day.

The post-night-out chat — you know, that moment where you gather around in a circle with your best friends to retell the tales of the night before — is what makes being single so fun. “The morning debrief is sometimes better than the night out itself,” Julia, 21, from Boston, tells Elite Daily. “You get to catch up on what everyone thought about the night or what you might’ve missed.”

Even if you don't formally label it a "debrief," you might still find yourself in one. It’s an informal ritual that varies each time, yet its essence remains the same. You're surrounded by your closest friends, your tribe, your sisterhood. Each of you is wearing the aftermath of last night, whether it's your eyelids still tacky with eyelash glue or those lingering regrets echoing in your mind ​​("Tequila shot? What was I thinking?" or "Why did I text him?!").

But despite any mishaps, you're all ecstatic, eager to recount your versions of the evening's events. You mull over the highlights of the night — like the DJ who only played early 2000s hits, the cute guy from your accounting class who bought your friend a drink, or how amazing your bestie looked in her Guizio mini skirt — and the lows — like when your other friend bumped into her ex-situationship.

“Some of the talk might be light and fun, but then there's that serious side where you're there for your friend who needs a boost,” Grace, 23, from Phoenix, Arizona, tells Elite Daily. Either way, debriefing is as comforting as the camaraderie of a women’s bathroom line at a bar, except everyone participating is sober and has likely known each other for years. “The best debriefs are done with your closest friends,” Grace adds. “So when they say something like, ‘They aren’t worth your time,’ you know they mean it.”

There aren’t rules, per se, but there are certain parameters that make up a proper post-mortem. Below, single 20-somethings share the details that’ll enhance your experience, like opting for movie theater popcorn or wearing noise-canceling headphones on a flight — not needed, but things would be kind of blah without them.

Thou Must Debrief In Person*

The discussion should be conducted IRL for several reasons, primarily because it ensures everyone survived the night before in one piece. "There's something about being in the presence of people who just get it," says Carrie, 26, from New York City. "Plus, it's a good excuse to reconvene and catch up."

It's undeniable: No one turns down the opportunity to gossip when there are important topics to discuss. Even though schedules may be tight and Sundays might be booked, carving out time to be together keeps the spirit of the middle school sleepover alive.

*The only exception to this rule is if you and your besties are long-distance. The morning ritual can be performed over FaceTime, but according to Mila, 22, from Ontario, voice notes and phone calls are not allowed. “You need to be able to see your friend’s reactions,” she says. Nothing is better than seeing a mouth agape, an eye ever-so-wide after you just dropped the hottest tea of the day.

A Morning Beverage Must Be Involved

It can be anything from a hangover elixir to a just-refilled Stanley cup, but you will be tossing around information for quite a while. Hydration and caffeination are crucial.

For Alyssa, 21, her morning discussion with the group chat includes an iced coffee order from Dunkin. “We can’t start gossiping until the drinks are in front of us,” she says, adding that even when the DoorDash order is late, it’s a “strict rule.” Think of it as the politeness of not eating until every guest has been seated or not starting a meeting until all your coworkers have arrived. Dinner parties have a certain ​​etiquette, and so does gossiping. Call it debriefing decency — you can’t ingest any gossip until the first sip.

Thou Must Be Wearing Sweatpants

“Debriefing in jeans just feels wrong,” Anne, 25, from Philadelphia, tells Elite Daily. Influencer Alix Earle goes further, insisting on a “disheveled” appearance to perform the ritual correctly. Picture yourself wrapped in a cozy blanket or nestled under a duvet; comfort is key, whether you opt for sweats or bike shorts. Gossip flows better while in a ratty college tee. For the ultimate experience, imagine lounging on a bedspread or sprawling across a spacious couch — being horizontal, in general, is best.

Insist On Dramatic Storytelling, Always

Long and complex backstories really shine here. In this space, you need the build of the lead-in, you need to know every subplot. Side characters are equally as important as the main ones. Rule of thumb: If it seems unnecessary, add it in. (“I’ll set the scene! The bar next door was nice — like it served sauvignon blanc in a thinned-stemmed glass, not those weird, chunky ones.”) It just makes things more fun.

Photos Must Be Easily Accessible

With details in mind, visuals are essential. "Sometimes when you're with your college friends and high school friends, you have to pause and explain to your college friends about local celebrities," says Annika, 22, from Portland, Maine. Having an Instagram account readily available is crucial, and the same goes for a Hinge profile or a blurry snapshot. Much of debriefing revolves around storytelling, but visuals always add depth. Bonus points if you can AirPlay those images onto a TV screen.

Have A Mutual Understanding That The Debrief Is Sacred

There are plenty of clichés to resort to here, like "what's discussed in the debrief stays in the debrief.” But cheesiness aside, it’s a sacred ritual because it’s performed with people you can be your truest version of yourself around. You know your besties won’t repeat your story about you doing laps in the bar to “run into” your ex, and you won’t tell anyone how it was a successful mission with only their help.

At the end of the day, it would be mutually assured destruction anyway.