You can take turns with your friends hosting informal "tea parties." They are best around 7 or 8 in the evening, right after dinner. It's an especially nice ritual because it's something to look forward to during a week night.
- Tea: Keeping a variety of tea in your kitchen helps. The packaging is pretty, and to top it off, everyone gets to pick whatever they want. From licorice tea to apple mint tea; you name it, and it's available. Even if you only have one type of tea, everyone may drink it differently. Some like tea plain, whereas some like it with milk and lots of sugar. So make sure you have tea, milk and sugar in your kitchen. That's all you really need.
- Mugs: It can be fun to each hold a different mug (matching mugs are just too formal don't you think?) and just keep refilling them with hot water.
- Goodies: I always whip up something for these "parties." Cucumber sandwiches are a favorite because they're delectable and not too rich. Other favorites include freshly-baked cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and fruit crumble. If you're too busy, you can always opt for store-bought snacks. It's not mandatory, but it's always nice to have something on the table to nibble on.
- Chatter: You can even leave the TV on if you have tea in the living room. Everyone may end up ignoring the shows, but it acts as a background noise. The point of these "tea parties" can be anything: to vent about work, gossip, and laugh over silly things. It's always good to have friends you can talk to.
- Old photos: Keeping photo albums, scrapbooks, magazines and table books out can help stir conversation. Sometimes it's just nice to be with friends, have a cup of tea in hand, and not have to talk at all; just flip through a magazine.
- End: At about 10, everyone gets tired and heads home. Cleaning up should not be difficult as it is a week night. A quick rinse of your mugs, and a swift wipe on the table should do it.