So admittedly, I’ve been to very few happy hours in my life. Despite being a member of the working world for almost 20 years (eek!) and being able to drink alcohol for 15 of those, I’ve tended to avoid the 5 o’clock somewhere crowd and done other things instead. Recently I attended a happy hour that was planned for a board that I’m a member of. We met at a local restaurant/bar that had a special happy hour menu. I had one cocktail and a personal pizza, spent about $15, and was home by 8. Perfection.
It got me thinking about how and when I socialize. I’ve been in a committed relationship for almost 2 years now and have no desire to be out late on a Friday night. For a while my friends and I had “pay day” Friday dinners out but I found that I was spending about $100 a month that way. Then it dawned on me…happy hour! I think it’s a great way to spend time with your friends and not spend a lot of money – here’s why:
1. Special Happy Hour Menus or discounts – Many establishments have a special Happy Hour Menu. There are places locally that offer a few items for $5 – usually appetizers or small plates. There’s a fancy steakhouse where you can get a great steak house burger for $6…and it’s a whole lot better than Burger King! Other places have half off appetizers which can also be a great savings. Share a half off plate of nachos with a friend – super inexpensive.
2. You don’t have to drink alcohol – There is no rule that says if you go to happy hour you have to drink alcohol. Order a soda or lemonade…or even water and still benefit from discounted pricing on food.
3. It doesn’t have to be at a bar – Many restaurants have a small bar in them and offer a discounted happy hour. If you are uncomfortable sitting in the bar section, ask if you can still get happy hour pricing in the restaurant. Many places are o.k. with that.
4. Some places offer FREE food! Donovan’s Steakhouse offers complimentary Prime steak sandwiches during their “martini” hour, as well as half priced drinks. One local Mexican chain has a free happy hour buffet with chips, salsa and other items.
5. It’s over early! I don’t know about you but I like to get home before my significant other. I will usually straighten up a bit, make sure there’s something for him to eat, make us a couple of cocktails. It’s rare that I want to go out for the whole night and miss spending time together before bed. This way I’m home just before he is (he works a later schedule) and I’ve had the opportunity to socialize without missing out on personal time together.
How about having a cheap date with the hubby or wifey? Secure a sitter for a couple of hours and meet up for a drink and a bite to eat after work. I would head to Yelp and put “happy hour specials” in the search field. Read through some reviews for deals other people scored or go directly to their website.