• Tips for Hosting a Better-For-You Happy Hour

    August 14, 2014

    This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond.

    Oh, happy hour. It’s no doubt one of my favorite times of day. But, if you rewind to my post-college days, too much merriment and overindulging at happy hour caused me to gain 20+ pounds. Enjoying cheesy nachos and way too much beer after work, more than a little too often, forced me to buy a whole new wardrobe. True story!

    i love cocktails

    Nowadays, happy hour is a lot more tame and a whole lot healthier for me. Instead of waking up the next day feeling miserable and disappointed in myself, I wake up feeling ready to carpe diem. If you want your next happy hour get-together to be a healthier one, check out these 4 tips below!

    Serve some healthy snacks

    Once I have a couple of drinks in me, I become a serious snack monster, especially when it comes to salty fare. You too? Instead of reaching for high-calorie foods, like nachos and pizza, serve up some healthy (and salty!) snacks. Some of my favorites: Blue Diamond Almonds in a variety of flavors (their Bold product line is the bomb), popcorn, edamame with sea salt, and Nut-Thins with hummus, salsa, or guacamole.

    Downsize your dishes

    When it comes to snacking at happy hour, it’s all about portion size for me. I know once I get going, it’s sometimes hard to stop. Instead of mindlessly munching away, I serve my snacks with portion-friendly dishes, like ramekins and small plates, for instant portion control. Using a plate to serve myself is also a great visual aid to how much I am eating. Especially at social events like happy hour, it’s easy for me to lose track of small bites here and there, so my plate system really seems to work. Plus, I can always go back for more food if I am still hungry.

    happy hour plate

    Make ‘em mini

    I love serving crowd-favorite appetizers at happy hour, like pizza, burgers, and mozzarella sticks, but, of course, these high-calorie snacks are not always friendly on the waistline. Instead of denying myself or my guests of these delicious eats, I make them mini by serving smaller portions of them. For example, instead of burgers, I’ll serve sliders and instead of huge slices of pizza, I’ll cut them into 2-inch squares or make mini pizzas. That way, we can enjoy a little bit of everything and not overdo it.


    Keep mixers light

    I used to sip cocktails full of fruit juices or premade mixes during happy hour, so if I drank 2-3 drinks in one night, I was adding nearly 900 calories to my daily diet—and, boy, did those calories add up! Nowadays, I typically keep juice light by adding “just a splash” and look for ways to incorporate fresh herbs and other healthy ingredients into my cocktails. I also love to combine flavored vodka with soda water and a small splash of fruit juice, which gives my drink lots of flavor without too many extra calories.

    Question of the Day

    What are your tips and tricks for having a healthier happy hour?

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    { 38 comments… read them below or add one }

    Sabrina August 14, 2014 at 5:14 am

    Lots of water. Before, during, and after.


    Brynn August 14, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Sticking to one glass of wine and sharing an app has always helped me keep my happy hour under control, but makes me feel as though I am still enjoying myself. Also, I love that picture of you – stunning!!


    Paula August 14, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Love these tips! I used to drink only water or diet soda at happy hour and never eat. It wasn’t much fun (although it was very cheap). Finding ways to enjoy without over-indulging makes the experience that much better!


    Linz @ Itz Linz August 14, 2014 at 7:45 am

    healthier apps for sure – there are so many to choose from and blue diamond has the BEST flavored almonds!! i LOVE their honey roasted vanilla – i posted an overnight oats recipe with them just today!! #greatmindsthinkalike 🙂


    Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious August 14, 2014 at 8:13 am

    If in out or at a happy hour, I will order a side salad to help tame my hunger and even stash a few pre portioned or single serving snacks in my purse like a granola bar or almonds. It’s pretty common to find an apple in my purse too.


    Michele @ paleorunningmomma August 14, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Definitely sticking to one drink, and of course healthier snacks involving nuts, veggies, meats, over starchy fried stuff!


    Beks August 14, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Do you ever read “Northwest Edible Life?” It’s a bit of a garden/homesteading blog, but occasionally, she’ll have recipes for mixed drinks using things from her garden. They always sound amazing, but I tend to buy movies instead of alcohol. 😉

    Here’s an example of a drink she put together.


    Suzanne August 14, 2014 at 8:22 am

    I love serving fruit and cheese, hold the crackers! I also will go for a drink with seltzer and a splash of soda, gin and diet tonic is great for summer too!


    Katie @ Talk Less, Say More August 14, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Aside from healthier appetizers, I’m all about a healthier cocktail too! 😉 Lately I’ve been loving vodka w/ club soda & lemon. So delicious!


    Ashley @ A Lady Goes West August 14, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Use veggies as a substitute for crackers, so you can still enjoy all of the dips. Mini plates are helpful, as well as offering sparkling water to drink in addition to alcoholic beverages. Happy hour doesn’t have to be unhealthy, that’s for sure. 🙂


    Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio August 14, 2014 at 9:16 am

    I think the timing helps a lot! If I had lunch at 12PM, I know I’m going to be super hungry for a 5PM happy hour. Having a healthy snack around 3PM helps me to have a healthier happy hour.


    Katie @ Peace Love & Oats August 14, 2014 at 9:48 am

    I love the downsizing dishes tip! I try and play up the fruits and veggies to keep things healthier!


    Gracie August 14, 2014 at 9:51 am

    When I host my friends for drinks there’s usually only…drinks. haha! I should probably get some food in there for them, huh? 😛 These are great ideas!


    mary @ August 14, 2014 at 9:59 am

    easy, quick, and cheap: add water. drink a glass of water before & between drinks! 🙂


    Rachel @LittleChefBigAppetite August 14, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Great tips, Tina! I think a lot of people don’t realize how much those fruit juices in cocktails can hurt your diet.


    Jen @ Bagels to Broccoli August 14, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Yeah…I’ve definitely so been there with the one drink leads to four and then you’re chowing down on a block of cheese thang. I agree with others who’ve said to eat something a few hours earlier – that definitely does help, although I usually eat some of the food anyway!


    B August 14, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Perfect timing for this post as I overdid the happy hour last night…and am regretting it today. Thanks!


    Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties August 14, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Water is definitely always a good idea! My friends and I aren’t classy enough for real happy hours with snacks and stuff… perhaps we should start including snacks! HA!


    Annette@FitnessPerks August 14, 2014 at 10:39 am

    I love almonds–and some of those flavors sound ahhhhmazing!


    Livi @ Eat, Pray, Work It Out August 14, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I love simple drinks with liquor +seltzer and a lemon//lime for a low calorie cocktail hour!


    Annette August 14, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I hydrate well during the day and set a 2 drink max for myself. My go to drinks are grey goose and soda with a TON of limes (like 6 🙂 or a grey goose and soda with a splash of pineapple juice, and I always have a glass of water between drinks to stay hydrated and full. I try to stick with appies that aren’t fried and substitute chips/crackers with veggies because once I start drinking, I CANNOT stop eating 🙂


    Leslie @ Life Begins @ 30? August 14, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I love all things mini-the mini apps are cute and you get to indulge without going crazy! I usually try to order a healthier appetizer to share or just have a couple of drinks at happy hour before heading home to make a healthy dinner.


    Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness August 14, 2014 at 11:22 am

    The same thing happened to me post college! My best tip is just to cut the drinks off after 1-2 glasses… I know, i know, its probably the least fun tip out there, but it works for me 🙂


    Jen @ Chase the Red Grape August 14, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Can you please ask blue diamond to start stocking their flavoured almonds in the UK!!? Really feel like I am missing out! 🙂


    AB August 14, 2014 at 11:51 am

    You’re my favorite blogger! Thanks for keeping it real.


    Tina August 14, 2014 at 11:53 am



    Sara from Sweden August 14, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    good advice, thank you for sharing!


    Sarah August 14, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    My tip is that it’s called Happy HOUR… not Happy 7 Hours. It helps me enormously to distinguish between a social evening and getting $hitfaced. That sort of event has a different name 😉


    Laura August 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    I love nuts but when I eat them, I eat like a pound of them!
    The Accidental Mama


    kiki marie August 14, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    so totally not relevant to the happy hour… but it is to the blue diamond sponsoring… Have you tried the cherry pie almonds?? A-MaZ-InG!!!! I have only seen them at Walgreens so far and it is probably better for me, I love them! Perfect for my insane sweet tooth!!

    So Beware… Once you try em, there is no going back!!


    Tina August 14, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    I haven’t, but I want to! Those sound awesome!!


    Ashley August 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I try and separate my eating/drinking at happy hours. So if I have a drink in hand, I’m not snacking. If I have water/no drink, then I can have a snack…tends to help me keep balanced and slow down both drinking and eating over the night.


    Victoria @ The Thrive Life August 14, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Having around healthy apps! Especially veggies, but with homemade paleo-style dipping sauces. Also, using fresh juice from a juicer for drinks. It actually makes it kind of a fun party activity too! Having the juicer out with lots of lemons, limes, and other fruits to add to drinks! Yum! 🙂


    Britta August 14, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    I don’t know about this whole “sticking with one drink” thing you people speak of, but maybe I’ll give it a try next time. Lol.

    However, I definitely agree with mixing flavored vodkas with soda water for fewer calories. I also snack on meats, cheeses and nuts. Those seem to make me feel fuller, faster and for me, feeling full = sleepy and that sends me right home!


    Katherine Baker August 14, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    thanks for posting this! i hate when all the snacks make you feel gross. better to have some healthy and delicious options 🙂


    Heather August 14, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I always get water and try to share the apps.
    Also because of you I bought those amazing almonds. The bold ones are so addicting! So thank you…I think, LOL!


    Charlotte August 15, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Water water and more water. But then you have to pee the entire evening.


    Lauren @ Focused To Be Fit August 15, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    My go-to drink lately has been vodka-water-lemon. This way it keeps the calories low. When it comes to food, I always ask to split something or order protein!


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