Being asked to organise and host a hen party is can be a great honour but it can also be a huge source of pressure. Having recently thrown a hen party for my sister, along with her best friend, I have learnt a lot. Since it is so much nicer to learn from someone elses mistakes than make your own, I thought I’d share my new-found wisdom with you.
As far as hen parties are concerned, there are several schools of thought. Some like to keep it small and simple, like a good night out with close friends. Others like to go out with a bang, flying off to Europe for a week with thirty of their best mates. In between those extremes there are hundreads of possibilities. I’ve been to house-parties, dinners, a trip to the theatre and even a mother-and-baby group hen in my time.
So how do you narrow it down to the perfect bash for your bride-to-be? Here’s what you need to kow.
When planning a hen party, you really need to focus first of all on the hen. Brainstorm her likes and dislikes. Consider whether there is anywhere she wants to visit or whether there are any lifelong dreams she has that you can use as inspiration. Would she love a night in a castle or a weekend in Ibiza? A trip to the races or a big booze-up with her besties? If the hen isn’t feeling happy, it’s not going to be much of a party. Nailing her style is key.
This can be one of the trickiest elements. You need to bear in mind who is coming to the hen party and how much they are likely to be comfortable with spending. If you are going away for two nights or longer, is it possible to cater for those who might only be able to come along for one night? If the budget is very tight, why not consider throwing a bridal shower in your home for the hen and friends? Another wallet-friendly idea is a proseccco picnic with each guest bringing a dish to share and a small gift for the hen. And prosecco, obviously.
Location, location, location…
Once you’ve got an idea of what the bride-to-be would like, you need to decide on a venue and itinerary. What to do and where – it sounds like a bit of an ordeal. But if you have put some serious thought into the previous two steps, you should be close to making a plan now. Home or abroad? That’ll largely depend on your budget. Hotel, self-catering or simply a one-day affair? Costal charm, city light or a country retreat? The hen’s likes and style will probably give you some clues as to which she would prefer.
Asking around among friends and family for their experiences can be a great help, but don’t be afraid to make your own, original itinerary. It’ll make the hen party so much more memorable and fun if no-one is comparing to the last one they were at.
Make it personal
At her hen you want your bride-to-be to feel special, loved and excited, so put in some effort when it comes to making it hers. Personalise the venue by adding some pretty, decorative touches in her favourite style and colour. Flowers, bunting, fairy lights and candles are all available to suit any budget and can make a space your own.
For my sister’s hen we were kindly asked to select some pieces from the Dotcomgiftshop wedding and hen range to make her self-catering weekend even more special. As well as that we bought some cheeky napkins and some of her favourite foods to cook for her. Who wouldn’t feel like the luckiest girl in the world waking up to a house smelling of coffee and pancakes? (especially after a night or two of bubbly and catching up with the girls!)
Gifts & Games
Whether you have decided on an intimate evening with a couple of friends or gone all out on a big trip, it is a great idea to have some games and even a few gifts to get things off to a good start. Often a hen party is the first time some wedding guests will meet others who will be at the wedding and it can be an ideal way to bond before the big day. Games work well as an ice-breaker at hen parties.
Keeping the hen at the centre of things is ideal. She is the lady of the hour after all. One game I find works well is to ask the groom a series of *harmless* questions about himself before the party. Note his answers then ask the hen the same questions about him and see how well she scores.
Another fun idea is for each guest at the hen party to bring a small gift that the hen should associate with them. Pleace them all into a bag and let the hen pick one at a time and guess which guest brought it. This one is guaranteed to get a few laughs as well as the odd teary eye.
An alternative theme for gifts is to give wedding-related presents. Personally, I couldn’t resist giving my sister this mug, summing up marriage. On one side it says “Love You”, on the other “Hate You”! Since it was a country break with clay pigeon shooting as the main activity, we gave her floral hip flask too so she’d look the part. Gift-wise, we finished up with the traditional something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue (the good old garter).
With the hen party behind us and the wedding fast approaching, there is one thing I need make a note of – remembering to ak her for the “something borrowed” back again once the honeymoon is over.
[Disclaimer: I was asked to choose a selection of decorations and gifts from Dotcomgiftshop and was provided with these free of charge. All pictures, words and thoughts are my own.]