Disclaimer: I have nothing against hitting up happy hour after work. Some days are tougher than others, and require heading out with your coworkers post-work for half-priced apps, drinks and conversation. However, there are certain downsides that come with making happy hour a regular practice. Your spending habits may increase, there’s a higher likelihood you’ll wake up hungover the next day and your diet will be less than ideal from consuming fried foods and sugary cocktails. Suddenly, happy hour isn’t so happy anymore.
What can you (and your coworkers) do if you’re ready to shake it up? Say goodbye to Taco Tuesday (at least for a little while), and say hello to these fun alternatives for one and all.
1. Get up and get moving.
This doesn’t mean you need to pressure your coworkers to start training for CrossFit. Cait Scudder, CEO at Cait Scudder International LLC, is a business coach for women entrepreneurs. She recommends organizing a light exercise experience. Instead of a traditional 5 o'clock happy hour, go for a group outdoor walk. Physical movement gets our endorphins running and helps to release serotonin in the brain.
“Light exercise frees off the stagnant energy most of us carry after a day largely spent sitting in front of a screen,” Scudder says. “When you do it as a joint task, it allows people to connect and build relationships together.”
2. Get manicures together.
Anyone else remember that scene in Legally Blonde where Elle Woods is completely stressed out, and immediately heads to a nail salon? If you’re not up for drinks, but still want to hang out with your coworkers, it’s totally manicure time. Scudder says this is one of her favorite activities to do with her coworker girlfriends after work.
“A little pampering and girl time can really foster the feeling of connection and inclusion, without the alcohol," she says.
3. Plan random acts of kindness around your community.
Lauren Grech, CEO and founder of LLG Events, an international event planning and design firm. The company is built on the mission to incorporate altruism into all aspects of its business. Grech prefers swapping out happy hour to spend time conducting random acts of kindness throughout the town with her team.
“Some of our favorites include taping lottery tickets to car windows and giving a bouquet of flowers to a stranger. We also put extra change into parking meters and pay for coffee for people behind us in line at the coffee shop," she reports.
These acts of kindness can be big or small, depending on your company’s bandwidth. Grech says that it’s fun enough to brainstorm the acts with your fellow coworkers. Those who need extra inspiration can seek out tips online, too.
“We love our cocktails, but some of our happiest hours are when we’re giving back together!,” Grech says.