Gathering in Groups
Baty Landis’ Friday Night Happy Hours
The best resource for great ideas for any mom is usually other moms. This was definitely the case when I met Baty Landis. When she isn’t keeping up with her three young children – who range in age from 2 to 6 years old – she’s busy raising money for nonprofits in our area. So when weekends roll around, Landis and her husband relish in the opportunity to unwind and connect with each other as well as friends and family. Thus the idea for Friday Night Happy Hour was born. For years, Landis has issued a Friday night invitation to friends, family, school families and work associates. Of course the group has evolved and changed over the years as more friends married and stared families. Once the quantity of children outnumbered that of the adults, the Friday gatherings began incorporating a fun activity for the kids, keeping them entertained and expending any remaining energy they might have before bedtime beckons.
Since the group of people assembled can vary from week to week, the night typically begins with the children introducing themselves to anyone they don’t know. Less than a minute after handshakes are completed, newfound friends are running around the yard laughing together. On this particular night they were anxious to get started on a gardening activity. Landis had purchased flowering zinnia and ivy for the willing workers to plant in the bed along her front porch. The kids diligently removed any stray weeds, prepared the soil and dug holes for the new plants. In about a half-hour, the garden had an entire new look! The children showed all the signs – dirty knees, muddy hands and huge smiles – of pride and satisfaction in a job well done.
Soon after the garden makeover was finished, the attention turned to dinner. Landis assures me that feeding this crew is actually one of the easiest parts in hosting the get-together. I was skeptical of this until I realized that no one stops by empty handed. Realizing long ago that trying to shop and cook for such a crowd every week would make the party too stressful to host with any sort of regularity, Landis enlisted the help of the other participants. I assumed there would be lengthy email chains organizing what everybody would be bringing every Friday, but I couldn’t have been more mistaken. The Landis crew take a far more laid back approach: Everybody simply brings something. It may be something to eat, something to drink or simply something with which to entertain the junior set. If your day gets too busy, delivery works fine, too.
It is also easy to see how perfectly the name, Friday Night Happy Hour, fits this recurring event. When you hang out on Baty Landis’ Mid-City porch, everyone is happy!