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A hen do is a rite of passage for every bride-to-be, giving her loads of quality time to make the best memories with her favourite people. But why is it called a hen do? How do you find good hen do ideas? How much should you spend? Who do you invite? And how on earth do you go about organising one?
Whether you're the bride to be, her maid of honour or one of the hens, arranging a hen do or even knowing where to start can be a bit overwhelming. But don't worry, ladies, we're here to help with a complete guide to make your hen do one for the history books... in a good way!
Ok, it's time for a brief history lesson, girls! Think the term ‘hen do' comes from the simple stereotyping of women? Think again! It's actually pretty historic with ‘hen do' first being used to describe a gathering of women as far back as the 1800s. The term was then first associated with weddings in The Times newspaper in 1976 in a story about a male stripper being fined for behaving in a very naughty way! So much for what happens on a hen do, stays on a hen do! A hen do has several different names and ss you may have heard in Hollywood movies, a hen do is known as a bachelorette party in the US.
You've got Ancient Greece to thank for that! The first part of an Ancient Greek wedding was the Proaulia where the bride-to-be gathered her mother, female relatives and friends to celebrate her upcoming nuptials and journey from childhood to womanhood. There was even alcohol involved but probably not as much as we drink nowadays! Just imagine the hangover in that heat! Greeks may have invented the hen party, but it wasn't until the 1970s that the UK really embraced the hen do concept when women would be paraded around their workplace to receive good wishes and some cheeky notes as they celebrated their final days of work before entering stay-at-home married life.
On the fence about whether to celebrate your last night or weekend of freedom? Here's are top 5 reasons why you should have a hen do:
We all love our friends and family but sometimes life gets in the way and getting everyone together can be virtually impossible. It's also a great way to break any ice before the wedding as all your favourite ladies will have already met each other on the hen weekend and will, most likely, even have a few cheeky stories to reminisce about!
We all know that calories don't count on a hen do so you don't have to worry about how much prosecco you drink or over-indulging on delicious food. Trust us, however much you munch on, you'll still look gorgeous in that wedding dress so treat yourself.
Arranging a wedding can be super stressful. Let your Maid of Honour or one of the hens arrange your hen do and treat you to some let-your-hair-down fun that you totally deserve! If you'd rather arrange it yourself, that's not a problem either. Just make sure you let loose and enjoy some quality time with the girls.
A hen party is a rite of passage. The wedding is about celebrating the love you share with your significant other, but the hen do is all about you, the bride-to-be. Enjoy every bit of love and attention from your girls. It's a great chance to share stories and funny memories while making new ones.
So, getting married no longer means giving up your job or independence but a hen weekend is still a great excuse to get a little cheeky with some activities you wouldn't normally do on a daily basis and you don't have to feel guilty about it. How about watching some sexy strippers or trying your hand at a hilarious nude life drawing class?
We bet you're wondering how long you should leave between the hen party and the wedding? While there's no set rule, the hen do tends to be between two months and few weeks before the wedding. Trust us, you definitely don't want to throw a hen do the night before! The last thing the bride wants to be is hungover and half asleep on her big day! Try to have at least one pay day between the hen party and the wedding so you all have enough money to celebrate and buy that wedding outfit. Bear in mind, if you're celebrating in the summer months that people are likely to be on holiday at some point as well as this, they'll be very busy at Christmas, not forgetting that none of us ever have much money in January!
Organising a hen party can seem a bit daunting at the start, but it doesn't have to give you a headache. You're going to need to be focused and organised to get everything done but we know you can do it. Trust us, you'll have so much fun on your hen do that any stress will melt away!
There aren't any rules about who organises the hen do so you've got the freedom to play to your strengths here. It's pretty common for one of the hens or the Maid of Honour to arrange and oversee things, especially if their betrothed bestie is a fan of surprises. However, it's definitely not unheard of for the bride-to-be to organise the hen do. At least that way she's getting exactly what she wants.
Feel free to delegate and share the responsibility of the hen do ideas and plans. If you'd like some help, a couple of you could arrange the hen party. If you've got a super organised Monica from Friends type in your group, they'll probably jump at the chance, but you probably want that balanced with someone who's got a little bit of Rachel in them to keep things fun!
How do you plan a hen do abroad, we hear you ask? Pretty much in a similar way to our top 5 tips above. Where things get a bit trickier is transport. If you're going out in your hometown, travel's likely to be minimal but with a hen party abroad, you'll need to factor in flights and airport transfers to the budget and planning.
The guest of honour is, of course, the bride-to-be. If you're not her, unless the hen do is a surprise, it's well worth asking her who she wants to invite. The good thing about having the bride in on the planning is that she can let you know exactly who she does (or doesn't!) want there. Maybe she has some university friends that live far away that you've never met? Or a childhood friend she's recently reconnected with? That said, if you're surprising her, give her Facebook friends list a good stalk and see who's liking and commenting on her pics on Instagram. Don't forget to make the most of her family, friends and the groom-to-be by asking them who they think should be there.
There isn't a one size fits all approach for sending out hen party invites, we're afraid. You can invite more people than just the bridesmaids but exactly who's invited on the hen do will depend on the bride-to-be and what activities you're going to book. You could even consider throwing two parties for her; one wild weekend away with the girls and a meal out with the family and closest friends. The choice is yours.
Afternoon tea or a spa day can be perfect for the bride-to-be who wants her mum, nan and maybe even the mother in law to come along. If you're planning a surprise hen night and expecting drinking and debauchery, she might be happier to let her hair down if her mother in law isn't there. For some people, having their mother watching whilst a half-naked stripper grinds all over them would be their worst nightmare but parent-child relationships are different, and some would just laugh in this scenario. You know the bride-to-be best. Ask what she thinks then make the call.
People might ask you if they can bring a friend along to the hen party. This will depend on the bride. Remember, the hen weekend is a special occasion for her, her best friends and a few select family members. If she's met their friend before and gets on with them, you can consider it but bear in mind that if you let one person bring a friend along, more of the hens may well ask if they can do the same. You might then risk a day or night out where they could potentially stick in their ‘couples' rather than mingling.
The hen do is all about the bride-to-be celebrating her last night or weekend of freedom with her best friends. If one or more of these happen to be men, and she wants them there, invite them. Bear in mind that this might slightly affect the hen do ideas you have in terms of activities. Keep the lines of communication open with everyone coming to the hen party. If you already have a bit of a plan in place, discuss with the guys if they're up for joining in and talk to the other hens to make sure everyone's happy with the hen do activities you decide on.
Plan everything in advance
From accommodation to activities, you should have created an itinerary for all of you before you go.
Keep to the budget
This is really important as everyone involved will want to avoid spiralling costs. The last thing you want is people feeling pressured or ending up in debt after the hen weekend.
Keep the bride-to-be at the forefront of your mind
The hen do is all about your engaged friend. What would she enjoy? Does she like surprises? Where would she like to go? Who would she like to be there?
Feel pressured to handle everything yourself
If you're feeling overwhelmed or need advice, just ask one of the other hens for some help. Delegating a few things will make everything easier for you. Avoid leaving things to the last minute - being organised is the key to everything running smoothly.
Joint stag and hen parties are becoming increasingly popular and it's not really surprising as lots of long-term couples have mutual friends. If the bride and groom would like to celebrate together, a joint stag and hen party is definitely something to consider.
As you've probably guessed (you clever things!), a sten do is a joint hen and stag do where the bride-to-be and groom-to-be celebrate their upcoming wedding with each other and their friends. This is also known as a hag do.
For one, there's no need to worry or feel jealous about what your other half is up to on their weekend of drunken debauchery. Though try to remember, a sten do shouldn't be about overcoming trust issues; it should be about having double the fun! Secondly, it can help keep prices down, especially if you're having a sten weekend away as the bride and groom can share a room.
Let's be honest, the bride and groom probably aren't going to want to watch each other getting a lapdance from a stripper but there's still plenty of hen do ideas that are perfect for a sten do. How about challenging the group to an Escape Room where you'll have to solve puzzles and crack codes to escape before time runs out? Get everyone involved with an interactive workshop, ranging from Beer Tasting to Chocolate Making, or unleash their sporty sides with a hilarious School Sports Day event where you'll compete against each other in fantastically retro games. Come nightfall, Cocktail Making is a great way to kick off the fun, getting everyone good and merry as you learn how to make the most mouth-watering drinks.
The average hen party cost varies massively depending on the destination, group size, time of year, whether you're celebrating for one night or a whole weekend and the activities you take part in. If you're celebrating the hen party in the UK, costs tend to be around £100-£300 per person but this can rocket up if you have your hen do abroad. Remember this is a super special occasion though so it will be worth every penny. Trust us, the memories you'll come home with will be priceless.
It's pretty common for the hens to split the costs so that the bride can party for free. It's a nice touch to treat her on her special weekend and the smile on her face will be so worth it. Remember, she's already forking out for a wedding and it shouldn't cost too much if there's a few of you going. If you're a bit strapped for cash, you could always count your contribution as your wedding gift!
Want to celebrate that final fling without breaking the bank? Here's our guide on how to keep hen party costs down.
Price things up as early as possible so people have time to save. Break down the costs so all the hens know exactly what they're getting for their money. You might need final numbers to confirm activities but try your best to give everyone a ballpark figure at least.
You don't need to invite the whole world! The hen do is a very special occasion for the bride-to-be to celebrate her last weekend or night of freedom with her closest friends. Another bonus of keeping things intimate is that others will feel less left out if they're not invited.
With Fizzbox, if you book early, you can pay a 20% deposit on your hen do activities to avoid paying the full balance in one big, lump sum. This gives everyone time to save up before the final payment is due. If you're travelling for your hen party, you could also consider going at an off peak time to save some pennies on flights and accommodation.
OK, stay with us on this one! Don't underestimate how fun a girly sleepover can be! Stay at home hen do ideas are limitless! Put those PJs on, pop on a cheesy chick flick, crack open a few bottles of fizz, grab a takeaway, indulge in a spot of pampering, play games and share hilarious stories about the bride.
A hen do abroad can be loads of fun but there's still plenty of fab places to the party in the UK. If the hens are travelling from different parts of the country, try to choose a central location that's easy to get to for as many people as possible. If you're all from a similar area, keep it local. If you're all from down south, why spend precious time and money trekking up north and vice versa?
Instead of a whole weekend, have one epic hen night out. Pull out all the stops to make the bride's last night of freedom legendary. You'll probably be too hungover to celebrate the second night anyway!
If there's an arty hen in the group, make the most of their skills! Cut down on costs by making your own sashes and decorations. If you're buying any bits including fancy dress costumes, do your research and look out for those online bargains.
Want to know how to avoid hen party hell? Here's our top tips:
Drink too much
It's a hen do so, of course, you want to let your hair down and enjoy yourself but don't go overboard with the alcohol. Know your limit and don't drink on an empty stomach. You don't want to peak too early and end up in bed at 9pm or, even worse, steal the bride's limelight with your drunken antics.
Be a henzilla!
If you're feeling overwhelmed or need advice, just ask one of the other hens for some help. Delegating a few things will make everything easier for you.
Leave anyone out
Hen party guest lists often include friends from different circles. Try your best to make sure no one's left out and that all the hens are mingling. Get that ice broken straight away with an interactive game, workshop or activity. This benefits all of you in the long run as it means you won't be meeting for the first time at the wedding.
Make it all about the bride
Remember that the hen do is all about the bride. Think hard, what would she like to do? It's not really fair if she likes afternoon tea and relaxation and you give her shots and strippers! Don't surprise her if she'd rather know what's going on. Make the whole experience personal to her.
Take loads of photos
You're going to want to remember this hen party forever so make sure to take loads of piccies. But be careful when uploading them to social media. Remember the ending of The Hangover? Some nights are best kept to yourself. If it seems like something someone might not want shared on Insta, repeat after us, what happens on a hen do, stays on a hen do!
Drink plenty of water
This is probably going to be a weekend where you won't get much sleep and are likely to be overindulging on the drinks. Whether you've got a fun, outdoor activity planned or are going to hit the prosecco hard, keep hydrated ladies!
Want to celebrate your friend's upcoming hen do but worried or stressed about being with a group of people you don't know that well or at all? You're not alone. We bet there'll be someone else at the event who feels the exact same way. If there's someone you know, even if it's not that well, buddy up and agree to ‘look after' each other until you relax into the fun. You can still join in with the activities, but you've got the comfort of having someone to sit next to and chat to if you need a break.
Giving yourself a role is a great way to get involved. How about volunteering to take the photos for the night? The role will take your mind off feeling anxious and you get the bonus of helping out the bride. Finally, don't be afraid to take a little step back if you need to. Introverts need a break to recharge. Have a sit down in the club or a nap at the hotel if you need it. You'll soon be back to having fun, feeling refreshed.
If the bride's an introvert, that's no problem. Make sure to liaise with her on the hen party activities to see what she's happy to do and consider keeping the guest list smallish. Let her know that she can always be open about her concerns and that you want to give her the best send-off possible.
A few handy suggestions are foldable ballet pumps for those party feet, make up, blotting paper as dancing the night away makes us all shiny, painkillers (like paracetamol) and a phone charger as your battery's going to get flat with all those Snapchat and Insta posts.
Hen party gift bags are a fab way to say thanks to your guests. They can be as cheap and cheerful or as expensive and luxurious as you like from edible treats to jewellery to wear for the wedding. Wondering what to put in a hen party bag? A few suggestions are photobooth props, sashes, badges, matching bracelets or hair barrettes, fun novelty items (think shot glasses, dare cards or even the full-on hen madness of L-plates) and temporary glitter tattoos. Why not create a bit of mystery by handing them out on the morning of the hen do and include some hints on the activities you're going to be taking part in?
Instead of a party bag, why not dish out some handy survival kits to the hens? Include useful items such as wet wipes, plasters, chewing gum, lip balm, tissues for all the happy tears you're bound to shed, tights because the first pair always get laddered and safety pins for any fancy dress disasters. A hangover kit is also a great idea, helping to get any sore heads back in the game the next day. Any good hen party hangover bag should include water, painkillers, an eye mask, cheap sunglasses and an energy bar.
Hen do activities that work best are inclusive, getting everyone involved. Also, something that you don't need any prior experience or existing skill level to be good at. Be considerate of any pregnant hens, older guests and those with medical conditions when you make your choices.
As many as you like but remember to pace yourselves, otherwise you'll be too tired to really let loose on the hen night! It's tempting to jam pack your day with activities but make sure to include some downtime to grab a bite to eat and get glammed up for the evening shenanigans. If you've got multiple activities planned, create an itinerary and share it with the girls so everyone knows the schedule.
When it comes to hen do ideas in the UK and Europe, this lot are top of the class:
This hen party go-to always kicks off the good times in style, getting the conversation (and drinks!) flowing immediately. It's always fun to learn a new skill with the bride and hens and here you'll be taught how to make the most mouth-watering drinks under the expert tutelage of a professional mixologist. We work with some great bars including Revolution, Dirty Martini and many more where you can expect loads of samples, games and laughs!
Watching a seductive male strip show is full on, naked guy naughtiness that's perfect for a cheeky hen do! Sit back and relax as you watch the tanned and toned hunks strip and dance for your viewing pleasure! With Adonis Cabaret in the UK, you'll also get games, singalongs, a welcome drink, a tasty buffet and nightclub entry for an unforgettably wild hen night!
Fancy ogling some man meat but think the bride would find strippers a bit too (ahem!) in your face? No problem at all! Why not try a spot of hen party Life Drawing? This chilled out sketching session is led by a professional art tutor who'll share top drawing tips and introduce your muse - a totally naked, professional, male model! Just imagine the blushing bride's face when he de-robes and strikes a pose!
Here's a hen do idea that'll put your popular matter and teamwork to the ultimate test! You'll be locked in a room for a nail-biting hour and the only way to escape is by hunting for clues, cracking codes and solving puzzles. With different but equally immersive themes available, you can really lose yourselves in this immersive adventure.
Let's face it, you're all going to want to brag about that epic last weekend of freedom on social media! If you're looking for the most photogenic hen do ideas, we've got some great options that'll make your followers go green with envy!
Head to Las Iguanas for Afternoon Tea with a Cuban Twist in a huge range of UK cities for a tasty treat that's just so Instagrammable! You'll be presented with a smoking cigar box, jam packed with delicious sandwiches that look just like Cuban cigars! You'll also get three tiers of tacos, tapas and cookies plus, the pièce de résistance, Havana Club Rum tea!
An immersive theatre experience is another great option. How about taking on an adventure and drinking cocktails on a real-life ship with Pirates of the Hidden Spirit in London? You'll get costumes and props as you join the crew on a mission to steal treasure.
If the Wild West is more your scene, you can unleash your inner cowgirl at the Moonshine Saloon in London, another movie-style adventure with actors, props, costumes and cocktails. Bring your own spirit and the bartenders will whip up four mind-blowing drinks for each of you. What's not to love?
A zen do takes a healthier approach with relaxing activities that guarantee a laid-back atmosphere all weekend long that's focused on wellbeing and helps everyone recharge their batteries.
Feel any aches, tension and stress leave your body with a Yoga Class, available in the UK and Europe. Yoga in Brighton takes place on the famous Brighton Beach so you can breathe in that fresh sea air as you perfect your downward dog.
Unwind in gorgeous surroundings at the Thermal Baths Spa in Budapest where you'll unwind in the warm water of the baths, pool and jacuzzi. Take loads of pictures of this scenic location as you try something you couldn't do at home. Well, unless you live in Bath! All together now, say aaah.
Carrying on the relaxing theme, these activities are perfect if you're looking to spend some peaceful quality time with the bride and her hens.
Spa Days are quintessential hen party ideas, treating everyone to a good old pampering in luxurious surroundings. You can even add a treatment, such as massages or facials, and a glass of champagne to help you feel even more like VIPs as you relax to the max.
Combine sightseeing with munching on delicious food, yes please! Hop onboard a vintage, 1960's Routemaster bus to tour the sights of your chosen city from Brighton to Dublin. You'll tuck into sandwiches, pastries, scones with clotted cream and jam and more, all washed down with tea, coffee or even a glass of fizz if you're feeling fancy!
For something super laid-back and a bit different, why not try Horse Riding in Marbella? You'll ride a beautiful horse each for an hour through the countryside, breathing in that fresh air and seeing some sights at the same time. What better way to take a break from all the partying?
Fancy some sport-based fun on your hen party? It's a great way to break the ice and inject some friendly competition and banter into your weekend.
It doesn't matter if you loved or hated School Sports Day back in the day, it's so much more fun to do as an adult! Split into teams, don your coloured bibs and sexy headbands and compete against each other in some gloriously retro games including the egg and spoon, sack and three-legged race.
Look out for bubble trouble! Transform your hen party into massive, inflatable beach balls as you climb inside your one-woman zorbs to play some brilliantly bonkers games. You'll be in hysterics as you bounce and wobble all over the pitch, competing against each other for glory in British Bulldog, Queen of the Ring, football and more.
Why not put on a real show with the girls with a fun-packed Dance Class? Whatever destination you're heading to in the UK or Europe, you can get your group dance floor ready. The professional dance tutor will teach you a dazzling choreographed routine with themes ranging from Pole to Burlesque, Lip Sync Battle to Bollywood, Grease to Dirty Dancing.
Fancy some quirky hen do ideas? You got it, ladies!
This isn't for the faint hearted, girls! This super realistic, immersive horror experience will have you shaking in your boots as you battle in close combat against blood thirsty zombies! Military trained instructors will put you through your paces and get you kitted out in safety gear, arming you with realistic imitation firearms. Follow them through the darkness as you shoot zombies and rescue survivors.
This cheeky, 90-minute workshop is led by an expert sexpert who'll teach you everything you've ever wanted to know about flirting, body language and seduction. With interactive games that'll get everyone giggling, you'll have the best time with the hens as you all learn how to unleash your inner temptress. She's been hiding way too long!
Planning a Harry Potter hen do? This is a must do activity! Even muggles can join in with this energetic game that takes inspiration from the wizarding world. You'll ride around the pitch on broomsticks (unfortunately, not the flying kind. Cheers gravity!), dodging bludgers, shooting quaffles through hoops and trying to catch that illusive golden snitch! Come dressed as your fave character to get some really funny photos.
You might think this is a quintessential stag do activity, but a good old session of hen party Paintballing will get your whole group laughing as you get super competitive in the countryside. After all, why let the men have all the fun? Split into teams and hunt down your enemies. See someone? Ready, aim, fire! Trust us, you'll love every second of splattering the other hens with paint!
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