High Chair Happy Hour

17 May

Why High Chair Happy Hour? Because parents deserve to be happy, too.

Happy Hour can be the perfect meal to dine out with kids. Portions are small (and often cheap), the menu is limited, service is fast. What more could a parent want? (Besides a sitter, which is a whole other post.) Most places host HH somewhere between 3pm-7pm. It’s that time of day when many businesses are slow, offering specials to get early diners in the door. We sometimes call it “cheap early dinner”.  Then there are those challenging days when it’s “close enough to 3, dear God open a beer”.  At home it’s “first dinner”. If you’re enjoying Happy Hour at home, make the most of it: invite friends, make fancy drinks, eat good food. If all else fails, text someone “cheers” and pour yourself something special while you eat the stale Pirate’s Booty from lunch.

If you’re going out for Happy Hour with a kid, here are some strategies for success:

  • Know in advance if the venue allows kids in the area that has Happy Hour prices. Some places only serve HH in the bar and charge full menu prices in the main dining area. Call if it’s not clear on their website.
  • Have a backup plan in case the information you get is wrong (hours have changed, business is closed on that day, etc).
  • Check out the menu online (or in the window) to be sure there’s something your kid will eat, and so you can order immediately.
  • Enjoy your meal (and your beverage!) but eat quickly.
  • Treat your kid(s) like dining companion(s). Engage them–at whatever age. Don’t expect to ignore them and talk to a grownup. If I were parked to the side while my friends chatted, I’d be more than “fussy”.
  • Bring small, fantastic toys that no one will mind losing. (Look for a post on this soon.)
  • Ditch the stroller/car seat. Bring a baby carrier or carry the kid in your arms. If you’re already out with a stroller & having a spontaneous HH (good for you!), ask if you can leave the stroller with the hostess or if there’s somewhere specific they’d like you to park.
  • Ask for the check as soon as your food arrives. You can still linger over your meal/drink, but it’s easier to leave when you need to if you’ve already paid.
  • Have an exit strategy in case your kid is struggling. If you’re hoping to meet friends, make it clear you may have to leave early. Be at peace with leaving half your beer.
  • Be friendly to your server, clean up after your kid, and tip well–at least 20%,  up to 30% if you’re leaving a mess and/or one of your party had a meltdown. 

My kid just turned 2. We’ve been taking her out since a few days after birth and still enjoy Happy Hour regularly–at home and out.  We should all be happy as often as possible. Whether you’re grabbing a handful of raisins at the kitchen counter, sipping a fancy cocktail in a swanky lounge or enjoying a beer in your travel mug while you push the stroller–get happy!

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4 Responses to “High Chair Happy Hour”

  1. jhackmeister May 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    My wife and I are expecting our first child in October, and I can’t wait to be able to do things like this! Too many of our friends seem nervous or even scared to take their children out, but I think if you make it a normal part of life- there is no reason you can’t do this and make it fun for everyone. Of course, I am still just an expecting parent, I guess reality might slap me in the face on this issue 😉

    • BabyOnTheTownSeattle May 22, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

      Congratulations! Reality will slap you in the face. It even occasionally kicks you in the shins. That doesn’t mean you can’t go out. You lose some spontaneity and you need to know your kid, but you can definitely go out.

      • jhackmeister May 23, 2012 at 2:34 am #

        Thank you. We are really enjoying the pre-baby planning period, your blog has been a lot of fun to read! Keep up the good work 🙂

      • BabyOnTheTownSeattle May 23, 2012 at 5:34 am #

        Thanks! I’m looking forward to hearing about your new addition. Best of luck.

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