One Hour to a Happy Hour at Home


This time of year – post-freezing, pre-mosquitoes – is my favorite time to invite a few friends over because it requires very little work. And the work, the planning and execution of a gathering when we’re swamped with so many other things, is why we take don’t take more time to hang out with the people we enjoy.

But putting together a Friday happy hour when it's nice outside only takes one hour. I promise. With one hour of work, you can host a happy hour that will provide you many happy hours of reminiscing with your friends.

Ready? Go.

0:00-0:10 – Send an email.

  • Keep your invite list short. No more than 15 people or four families, if everyone will be bringing kids.
  • The email should be as casual as the event: “Happy hour at my house from 5-7 on Friday. Bring a snack to share. I’ll provide the booze.” (Feel free to cut and paste)
  • Keep the event to two hours so friends don’t assume you’re feeding them dinner.
  • Provide an end time so the happy hour doesn’t turn into someone sleeping it off on your couch.

0:10-0:30 – Make an alcohol run.

In Between Tip : If you decide you’d like to provide a cocktail, make sure it is one you can make ahead of time and serve in a pitcher.  White Peach Sangria  and  Berry Vodka Punch  are a couple of my summer favorites.

In Between Tip: If you decide you’d like to provide a cocktail, make sure it is one you can make ahead of time and serve in a pitcher. White Peach Sangria and Berry Vodka Punch are a couple of my summer favorites.

  • Grocery store list:
    • A six-pack of a craft beer
    • A 12-pack of something Sam Adams-like
    • A big bottle of red. (At 6 p.m. on a Friday, people are more concerned about quantity than quality.)
    • A big bottle of white
    • Plastic cups (The short clear ones allow people to moderate their drinking a bit better than the red Dixie cups.)
    • Water bottles (for kids or designated drivers)
    • Bag of ice
    • Flowers

0:30-0:50 – Clear a path.

  • The key to making a happy hour simple is to shove everyone outside. Nicely. So hide the clutter on the walks between your front door, your back door, and your bathroom, and make sure your guests know that the party is outside.
  • Ask your guests to come through the side gate, if you have one. Then you’ll only have to clear a path to the bathroom.
  • The other option – and this is ALWAYS an option when you entertain – is don't clean and know that your guests are happy to be invited into the welcoming hug of fun friendship.

0:50-1:00 – Prep your outdoors.

My lovely friend Paige's happy hour table

My lovely friend Paige's happy hour table

  • Set out platters and bowls for the chips and cookies friends will bring. Asking them to bring a snack takes a load off you, and they’ll be happy to offer something to the party.
  • Ice down the beer, white wine and water in an ice chest.
  • Put out napkins, plastic cups and flowers.
  • Graciously accept the "oohs" and "aahs" from all your appreciative friends who are certain it must have taken you hours to put it all together.

Do you have a party shortcut? An easy appetizer, a go-to Pandora party playlist, or a simple way to make the food table look extraordinary? Please share it with the rest of us In-Betweeners on my Facebook page.