Perhaps the easiest way to have people over is to invite them to a Friday Afternoon Club. While these informal gatherings are called Friday Afternoon Clubs, any afternoon will work.
When we host an FAC, the gathering usually starts at about 5:00 p.m. and breaks about 7:00 p.m. It can be a small or a large 40+ guest list. It’s a BYOB format (usually a bottle of wine) and everyone is encouraged to bring a snack that can be shared by all in attendance.
The Bar Preparation
We designate an area to serve as the bar, usually at the end of one of our kitchen counters. It’s basically understood that anything placed on the bar is available for anyone to pour. If they suggest that they would like their bottle to be an exclusive bottle, we place it in a special place away from the others.
We supply bar napkins, openers cork screws, and plastic cups. The FAC regulars oftentimes will bring their own glassware. If it’s an intimate gathering, we provide actual wine glasses.
The Food Offerings
The kitchen counters are where the food snacks are assembled. As hosts we supply napkins, paper plates (6″ or so), and plastic silverware. We also like to have dippers, scoops, slicers, etc. available for those who didn’t bring the needed utensils for their snacks. Note: We have wooden covers for our stovetop to get a bit more counter space. We also like to allow enough free space on the counters so guests can put their plates down when they are selecting their snacks.
Putting Our Party In Motion
One of the goals of an FAC is for our guests to mix and get to know one another. That’s why we limit the seating. If we’ve invited about 40 people, we will have seating for a dozen or so. This way our guests won’t settle in. As I said, usually the food snacks are in the kitchen; however, we sometimes have other snacks away from the kitchen such as on a credenza or a service cart. This puts our party guests in motion.
The Easiest Party Ever
Friday Afternoon Club parties are very easy to plan (oftentimes the result of a spur-of-the-moment decision). The cleanup is minimal, the refuse is mostly paper and plastic, and there is little to do regarding washing dishes. They’re so much fun, and usually the idea catches on and our friends will follow suit and host their own – and then we get to attend.
If you are a guest, what’s a good snack to bring to a party? I think individual bites are best – something a guest can pick up and put on their plate. We avoid snacks that are messy or need to be cut, sliced, or spread. Also, we’re not a fan of dips which tend to get a bit funky towards the end of the party.
One more suggestion: We like to bring our snack offering on a disposable plate (tray) or in a disposable bowl. This way we’re not having to cart dirty dishes home, and we can leave anytime and people can continue to eat the snacks we’ve brought.