How to host a healthier happy hour

A Healthy Happy Hour(BPT) – Going out with co-workers or friends after work is a great way to relax, but when you host a happy hour at home, you have full control over the guest list, atmosphere, music and, most importantly, the menu. Use these simple tips to entertain your friends, and your home may just become the new happy hour hot spot.

Create whole-fruit drinks

Entertaining at home allows you to use whole fruits and natural juices to create wholesome, yet delicious cocktails. For example, you can make a Whole Fruit Margarita using fresh oranges, lemons and limes instead of a bottled sweet and sour mix. Add the fruit, along with your favorite tequila, a few ounces of Grand Marnier or Triple Sec, water, a touch of sugar and some ice into a high-powered blender, such as the Vitamix Professional Series 300, for a refreshing, restaurant-quality cocktail. Add the final touches by pouring the drinks into salt-rimmed glasses and toast to better-for-you margaritas.

Plan a nutritious menu

Plan a menu to go along with the healthy theme by creating a variety of small bites for your friends to sample. Try making soup shooters, nachos with low-fat shredded cheese and extra veggies, or a sweet and spicy Mango Salsa served with tortilla chips or crackers. With just a little creativity, it’s possible to have a fun and delicious happy hour while keeping the fare healthy.

Set the mood

Shake off the stress of a tough day – literally – with an energetic playlist that will have you and your guests grooving in no time. Mix up the music by plugging into a friend’s iPod, or send an invitation asking guests to RSVP with their favorite party song selections.-In addition to mood-enhancing tunes, soft lighting is a relaxing, welcome addition to any after-work soiree, serving as a contrast to the bright, fluorescent lights found in most work spaces.-Plus, the right lighting helps your guests feel less self-conscious, and free to dance their cares away.

If you must go out

If you’re not one for hosting and would rather spend the evening out, there are still plenty of ways to keep your choices on the right track. First, be aware of how much you’re drinking. Second, make healthy menu choices. Order a salad or lean meat like chicken satay with sauce on the side; skip the chips, pretzels and fried indulgences. Another tip is to have a glass of water between drinks. This will cut down on your alcohol intake and keep your body hydrated.