How to Plan the Perfect Hen Party*

*and survive it

On the last Saturday of June we showered my sister with love, embarrassment and alcohol for her hen party. She has three bridesmaids, myself and two friends from different groups. When she first asked us to be part of the wedding party I was the only one based in Dublin, Aisling was in New York and Ruth in London. This coupled with the fact that the three of us all know Aoife in totally different ways was a minor logistical challenge. But we made the most of it. Aisling moved home from New York and Ruth kept up to date via whatsapp and skype.

Early on I knew that whatever the theme was we had to give it 110%. There’s no point in half-assing things and a little follow through, planning and dedication was all that was needed to really hammer our ideas home (and I’m an ‘art’ student for goodness sake…I had to prove myself!).

We ended up going with a tropical theme because we thought that a visit to Tropical Popical on South William Street would be fun. Shortly after deciding on this we realised that it’s clearly the theme of this summer. From fashion to interiors to accessories there is tropical shit EVERYWHERE at the moment. It certainly made buying prizes and decorations super easy.

I pinned a couple of things on pinterest. Googled a couple of others. Picked a few decorations to make. And then I spent weeks making golden palm leaves, days making a watermelon pinata and a couple of hours making crepe paper streamers…among lots of other bits and pieces. Because I had been steadily making things for a few weeks when I collated everything with the girls the night before the party it all felt a little bit overwhelming. I was worried it wasn’t enough or that it wouldn’t come together…but thankfully it all did. I don’t know how people do crazy DIY weddings (they must get so emotional).

TIP #1: Plan ahead. 

Buy or make things little by little or stagger your online purchases. You won’t realise how much you are actually spending (and achieving). It also helps ease the pain your wallet will be feeling right about now. Parties are expensiiiive, there are no two ways about it.

TIP #2: DIY. 

Make as much as you can. I like to make things so doing the decorations myself was fun…but it also helped in saving lots of money. For example a packet of crepe paper is 75c but to buy one garland or string of bunting could be anywhere up to a tenner or more! This also goes for food. Lucky for us Aisling is a stellar cook and made the most delicious array of tropical salads for us to eat before heading out to get our nails done. It might be slightly more stressful to do this but it was a million times more delicious. We also made a load of easy, bake ahead, treats for the nail bar (chocolate biscuit cake, brownies, marshmallow toppers and cupcakes).

TIP #3: Don’t focus on the bride. 

At times we would get caught up with whether or not Aoife was going to have the besttimeeverrrr or whether certain things would be to her taste or not. Then I would realise that we were being crazy and neurotic and the only surefire way to guarantee she would love the night was by making sure that everyone else was loving the night. We focussed on providing the elements for a good time (alcohol, stupid games, Mr & Mrs with forfeits etc) and hoped for the best. It worked! You can’t force fun and thankfully we didn’t have to try.

These were definitely the easiest, most effective and quickest decorations I made. They also happened to be the last thing I did the night before! I followed this tutorial. 

I used Yellow Owl Stamp Company stamp blocks (from Moss Cottage) and ink and carved a pineapple and watermelon stamp…and then pretty much stamped everything in sight.

Including the goody bags! I ordered the canvas bags on ebay and then stamped them with watermelons and pineapples. Inside they each had a mini water bottle with two paracetamol attached (for the morning after), a bottle of bubbles, a flump (Aoife’s favourite), some balloons, a tropical flower for the girls’ hair, a glow stick and the most amazing M&Ms that Ais got printed in New York with the groom’s face on them!

Aoife’s friend Amy has a rule that when she gets her nails done she had to pick a colour she would never buy to make it worthwhile. I thought it was a pretty good rule…she went for bright orange and purple, suitably tropical!

So many treats in Trop Pop…they were so delicious. Also, how cool are those coconut cups? When you go to TP on a regular day you get Lilt in them!

This pinata took so long to wrap but it was so worth it in the end. I filled it with loads and loads of sweets as well as condoms and mini packets of lube. Aoife bashed it down and I just turned it upside down and spilled the contents (I hadn’t bothered to cover up the hole in the top I used to fill it which was handy!).

 This was an old wine box that I painted white and stamped with watermelons, we used it to stash the prizes for the games. I love how it turned out.

I spent weeks making tons of these golden palm leaves and then Ruth and Monica strung them from the roof of the venue. They turned our even better than I had envisioned, I really love them.

For our first hen party I think we did pretty well and the decorations all turned out better than I could have hoped. I’m not going to lie though I was delighted once it was all over and I could sleep and socialise and not spend any more money for a few days. Aoife enjoyed it and the girls all had a good time so that’s all that really matters anyway. I took some photos of the lunch at home on my film camera so I’ll share a few of them once I get them back from the lab. 

PS I didn’t bring any camera except my iphone out that night and I forgot to take any photos really so thanks to Amy and some of the other girls for these shots!