How to Throw an Excellent Hen (or Stag) Night at Home
Pricey New York mini-break? Fancy dress 1980s roller disco? See how to make a hen do easy (and stylish) at home instead
See which hen is genuinely up for hosting the evening at their own home. If possible, choose the hen with the most space – specifically floor space (for dancing, obvs) – and one who has room for lots of seating or, better still, a big dining table; a sit-down meal, even if it’s a takeaway, is a fantastic and reasonably civilised (depending on how much wine you get in) focal point for an evening designed to connect a group of friends old and new. Your bride-to-be should sit at the head of the table, all the better for being showered with attention (and freshly topped up with fizz).
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If the weather’s good and your chosen host has enough outside space, make an alfresco meal the focal point of your evening. And, whether you’re indoors or out, dress the table with panache, using a tablecloth, candles and fresh flowers. To make your hen feel special, make everything you incorporate into the evening about bigging up the ‘special event’ feel, rather than the ‘staying at home’ angle. And what interiors nut doesn’t like the opportunity to dress a table beautifully? Add fun details such as place settings with names and a line about how they’re connected to the bride, or include small tabletop props for a game to play later on.
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Get everyone to arrive before the bride-to-be, so she can make an entrance. You could even blindfold her and throw in some red herrings about what might be about to unfold. Consider having an element of surprise up your sleeve to kick things off: it could be a long-lost friend she didn’t know was coming; everyone greeting her wearing paper masks printed with the face of her husband/wife-to-be; or everyone wearing masks of her own face and approximations of her classic outfits. Get brainstorming with your most creative fellow hens and you’ll be awash with sparky ideas that’ll really personalise the start of the night.
Make sure every element of the night has a theme. You’ve had your surprise theme, now go for a drinks theme. Don’t just have bottles of fizz – get cocktail-creative. Collate five cocktails, either made-up ones or old favourites (make them delicious, not novelty – keep it classy), and create a drinks menu. Have fun with the names of your cocktails: could you name them all after your friend’s exes? Or after big events in her life? Or after embarrassing moments? There’s so much scope here for nostalgia and laughter.
Although you’re staying in, it’s almost a tradition to have some members of the appropriate sex for a spot of innocent flirtation. Do you know anyone suitably charismatic with bar skills you could rope in? Could you club together and hire a cocktail waiter/waitress? If you have a nice local bar, it’s worth asking if anyone wants to do an extra shift – at your party. Make sure a few people can vouch for them, and agree a rough fee to pay them with your fellow hens in advance. A double act is ideal – a room full of excitable hens can get demanding!
Personalised decorations can add an extra layer of love to the proceedings. You could make your own bunting to spell out a comedic message with letters painted on to each flag. Or you might choose an embarrassing photo and make your own from scratch – your friend’s embarrassing teenage hairdo or her beloved in a cheesy pose repeated around the room is a nice touch.
Ask everyone to suggest five songs that remind them of time spent with the bride-to-be. Then brainstorm a selection of everyone’s best dancing tunes too – and don’t be too cool about it! There’s nothing better than a kitchen disco amongst friends.
There’s so much potential if you have a large screen to hand. A TV screen will do the job, but a projector adds a little bit of magic if you can get your hands on one.
Another focal point of the evening could be a personalised screening of some kind. Perhaps you could reenact how the happy couple met, complete with bad wigs and corny dialogue. Or you could take a song from one of her favourite films and rewrite the lyrics to focus on your friend, her past misdemeanours, exes, loveable quirks, catchphrases and memorable escapades with fellow hens (you get the picture). Get the hens together to sing the new version, perhaps in a choir formation and in suitable costumes (wear nuns’ habits if The Sound of Music would work, 1950s outfits if she loves Dirty Dancing). If you can, incorporate subtitles into your movie, so she doesn’t miss any of your hard work!
Have snacks as everyone arrives and think carefully about what to eat later on. If you have any good chefs, put them to work! The gift of a beautifully cooked meal by a couple of hens could be a lovely gift to share. Alternatively, ask everyone to bring a dish, pot-luck style, or chip in for a really good takeaway. You could even hire a personal dinner party chef for the night – there are various online services worth exploring.
Since you’re not going out and interacting with drunk strangers/drunkenly interacting with strangers (phew), it might be good to bring a bit of the outside in to entertain you all instead.
But who? Did she have a teenage crush on a particular pop star? Perhaps you could hire a lookalike to come down and do a few tunes. Or hire a local magician or Derren Brown-style mind-reader who’ll put on an interactive show. Perhaps you know someone musical who’d be up for performing a number? Your fellow guests could get together to write a comedy song about your friend and your performer could sing it. If you know someone with songwriting and comedy skills, even better.
Get everyone to write down a name, a place and an object to remind the bride-to-be about a funny moment in her past. If she can’t guess it – well, it’s up to you whether you turn this into a drinking game or not. You could equally concoct a Mr and Mrs-style game and secretly enlist the help of her betrothed to test her knowledge of them and memories of their relationship.
Just because you’re not going out out, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t feel like a sparkly occasion. Give everyone a dress code (even if it’s just ‘dressed up’) and pay the same attention to your plates, glasses and general presentation. Ensure everyone feels glam – perhaps you could hire a manicurist for a couple of hours to make all the hens feel pampered.
What’s the best (or worst) hen or stag night experience you’ve had? And what ideas would you add to these at-home suggestions? Share all in the Comments below!