Planning the perfect Hen Do

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

This year I've been lucky enough to be involved in two Hen Dos.

I was bridesmaid to my friend in March and helped plan her Hen Do in February and I'm due to be Maid of Honour to my best friend Katie in June, so I planned her Hen Do for the end of April.

Hen Do planning can take up a serious amount of time and can be quite stressful so I thought I'd blog some of my best ideas and tips!

1. Organise in advance. 
I started to plan Katie's about 9 months in advance. You need to make sure everyone can put the date in their diaries and also save up, because Hen Dos can be spenny!

If you're finding accommodation for say 20 people you need to find it in advance because its harder than you think! I tried AirBnB but actually ended up renting a house through Trip Adviser which I didn't even know you could do.

Also if you're booking an activity for a big group of people you need to do it in advance. We chose a Lazer Quest verison of paintballing for one Hen Do and an inflatable Water Park for the other!

2. Speak to your Bride. 
This sounds obvious, but get an idea of what she wants. Even if she wants a full on surprise and to know no details you need to know things like, does she want to go abroad, will her friends be able to afford it, does she want a weekend in the country or a week in Vegas. You don't have to give the game away by asking these questions, but it is important to know what you're dealing with. You don't want to contact everyone and suggest a week in Vegas costing over a £2,000, when they can only afford £200.

3. Use social media.
I would recommend making a facebook group or event invite. That way you can put all the information in one place and people won't have to search back through their emails.

4. Set a budget early on. 
This kind of relates to number 2. But I would set out from the get go what you think the price will be and give people deadlines for payments. A £50 deposit for example to confirm they're coming and then £50 a month for the next four months (assuming your Hen Do costs £250 in total).

5. Make a spreadsheet.
My spreadsheet for Katie's Hen Do has six tabs! It started with one and has grown a lot over the past seven months.
In case you wondered, the tabs are:


The Attendees tab includes columns for every payment due and when and the total each person owes as well as things like, are they driving? So I know how many cars will be on the drive of the house.

The Budget list is self explanatory. It has the total cost of every single thing we're doing from taxis for the night out to the parking costs at the activity. That way you can divide the total cost by the number of attendees. It also shows what I've paid out personally so far etc.

Itinerary, is obvious, its the itinerary of the weekend with every detail including timings and what everyone needs to bring for each activity.

(In case you really want some inspiration, here is my itinerary)

Games, this tab has all the games I want to play including which ones are Mum appropriate (if the Mum's are coming) and which are for the evenings when the Mums aren't there.

Checklist, this has a checklist of all the things I need to do before then Hen Do so that I can tick them off and know what is outstanding.

Menu, on one evening we are going out for dinner so I wanted to have everyone's menu choices in advance so I could inform the restaurant.

6. Work out whether you're covering the cost of the Bride. 
All these points sound very money orientated don't they! Its just really important to work these things out as people can be very sensitive about money and some people have different opinions.

I am of the opinion that the Bride shouldn't pay for anything. UNLESS you're going abroad or its a really expensive Hen Do.

Both the Hen Dos I organised were weekends in the country and to cover the cost of the bride was between £15 per person and £25 per person. It obviously depends on the number of attendees and the cost of the whole Hen Do, but I think the Bride shouldn't pay.

7. Games
Work out what games you want to play at the Hen Do. These were the ones I organised:

Mr and Mrs: Always a favourite at Hen Dos and always really fun. You basically film the soon-to-be-husband answering a number of questions. You then ask the Bride the same questions at the Hen Do and then play the Groom's answers to see if they get the same ones!

I did two lots of Mr and Mrs. A Mum appropriate one and then a non-Mum appropriate one with questions like "What is the strangest place you've had sex together".... and if the Bride doesn't get the same answer as the Groom she has to drink!

Guess the Bride's Age: I tied in with the Mother of the Bride for this one and got about 12 photos of Katie through the years. Then the Hens have to guess Katie's age in those photos. The one with the most correct won a prize.
Because I'm glam I gave Burberry makeup for prizes... oh heyyyy. (Obviously I didn't include that in the cost everyone paid for the weekend!)

Pass the Parcel: Such a hit! For the 7 months running up to the Hen Do I gathered up makeup, face masks, nail varnishes (from Twitter giveaways and just shopping) and made a pass the parcel. Everyone loves a Pass the Parcel!

Wedding Dress out of loo roll: Another standard Hen Do game. Remember to order loo roll with your food shop and then split the Hens into teams. Again I gave prizes for the winning team.

Pinata: Who doesn't LOVE a pinata. I had an arts and crafts day with the other bridesmaids and made brunch and we made a pinata. Get the biggest balloon you can and paper mache it. Then decorate. Leave a hole at the top and fill with sweets. I recommend using sweets that are in wrappers (like Maoam) and don't pick boiled sweets as they smash when you hit them!

Also, post Hen Do, I would recommend making your Pinata much thicker than we made ours...and don't use a hockey stick. The Pinata didn't last long!

Pin the willy on the groom: I made this on paint and printed it A3. Then cut out a willy for each Hen with their names on. The one who pins the willy closest to the correct spot wins a prize.

The Bride to guess her Hens from Baby Photos: Get a baby photo from each Hen and stick them up on a big piece of card. Then the Bride has to guess who is who. If she gets it wrong she drinks!

Fancy Dress: I planned for the Bride to wear fancy dress on the night we had in at the house. So the other bridesmaids and I made a fancy dress outfit for her. Really fun to all get together and make things and the extra effort was really appreciated. We all dressed up in outfits beginning with K and Katie had to guess the theme. Everyone made so much effort and it was so so great.

You also obviously need willy straws, a blow up man (with the groom's face stuck on) and a veil, just because it isn't a hen do without them!

8. Invitation
I tried to go above and beyond and think of extra details, so I made an invite for the Bride. It was two pages with the first page below. And then the second page just had a list of what to bring - no other information as the details were a surprise! I then stuck the pages back to back on card and posted it to the Bride's house.

I also did the same for the Hen's and had the second page contain all the details for the Hen do and the address and itinerary. For that one I just posted the invites on the Facebook Group rather than post it to each Hen's House!

9. Treasure Hunt
I tried to organise a Treasure Hunt for Katie to find each of her bridesmaids before travelling down to the Hen Do...but logistically it wasn't going to work as I needed to go early to set up the house. I think it would be a really nice idea though.

So instead I made a flip book of 7 clues for Katie to guess the postcode and posted this a week before the Hen Do so she had a few days to work them out.

10. Rooms
If you're staying over night somewhere I think its wise to think in advance about who is going to share a room with who. You don't want to arrive and just tell people to choose their rooms as it might be like PE at school where someone gets picked last! Especially if some people don't know everyone.

I made signs for the doors of each room with who was staying in each one.

11. Make a pack
This sounds a bit geeky, but make a pack of all the things you'll need. I printed out a copy of my spreadsheet so that I knew how much every activity was costing (as I was paying on the day for lots of it) and also printed out the answers to all the games. That way it was all in one place.

Also remember pens and paper for everyone if you're playing games that they're needed for i.e. Guess the Bride's age.

12. Food Shopping
If you're staying somewhere then you're probably going to be doing a shop. I would do this in advance and make sure you get the slot you want for the day. In terms of things you need to remember, a couple of things I thought of are:

Kitchen Roll and Dishwasher tablets - (these are usually provided in houses but you always need more with a big group!)

Paper Napkins (if you're having meals in)

Coffee and Tea - (in case the house doesn't provide them)

Snacks - I ordered sweets and crisps as well as Pain Au Chocolat. We were going straight from a walk to a water park so I bought croissants as an in between snack and I think it was appreciated!

Alcohol - I would order however much your budget will allow and then also everyone to bring a bottle. If people just need to bring a £5 bottle of fizz then the won't really mind paying for that as well as what they're paying for the Hen Do....but it added 16 more bottles of fizz to the fridge in my case!

Plastic Glasses - If you're staying in a house I would check in advance how many champagne glasses are provided. There were only going to be 9 in mine and 19 people so I ordered plastic ones and we wrote everyones names on them with a sharpie which meant everyone just had one glass for the weekend that they could wash and reuse.

Last night snacks - For the first Hen Do I did this but the second one I didn't. If you're coming back from clubbing, chips and pizza is always a great idea!

13. Pre-Order
If you're going to a restaurant try and preorder food ... it makes life MUCH easier!

14. Down Time
I recommend factoring in downtime. I had quite a strict schedule which we actually managed to stick to, but make sure you give people time to just sit and chat. No one wants to be active every minute of the day (especially if there are hangovers!) and the Bride will want to chat with everyone.

Also if there are specific times when people need to leave the house by a certain time. Give them warnings. i.e. we need to leave in an hour. We need to leave in 10 minutes.

It takes much longer than you think to manoeuvre big groups of people!

15. Don't stress
Finally and I think one of the most important things is don't stress. You want to have fun too and your Bride will want you to have fun.

I was a bit stressed in the week up to the hen do making sure I had everything sorted, but the day before I just decided that if there were dramas and things went wrong I couldn't do anything about it and I was just going to try and relax and enjoy it.

And I loved it!

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