Can you still call a bachelorette party a special gals night out when the “gals” are of Baby Boomer age? You bet you can! Whether this is your first, third or sixth wedding (no judgement), there’s no reason to forgo a fun time with your friends.
What does change with time is the desire to wear a tiara with veil and get blasted to the max (see “Bridesmaids“). This begs the question how best to celebrate without acting like a gaggle of giggling pre-pubescent girls. Here are a few thoughts applicable to our status in life that won’t wring all the fun out of the occasion. Oh, and I’ve included a few money-saving ideas, some of which are based on my thrice-married experience.
1. Vegas, Baby!
You know your secrets will stay in Las Vegas, right? While you and your gal pals don’t have to go the route of the boys in “Hangover,” the town that never sleeps is mighty tempting for a destination event. Plane fair and accommodations are usually cheap and there’s nothing that says you have to blow a pile of money to have fun. Atlantic City makes for a good alternative, should you live on the East Coast.
2. Ante Up
If a trip is out of the question, how about hosting a poker night with friends? The bride might even walk away with enough cash to pay for a portion of the wedding or—if everyone is a high roller—the entire event. If cash flow is a problem for some, play penny ante or with poker chips. (Wood matches also make a cheap and funky substitute.)
3. Gift Card Your Way to Happiness
There are registries for weddings…why not a registry for bachelorette parties? You can defray costs by setting up a gift registry at such sites as CardAvenue. Register for everything from hotels and gas to car rentals and party supplies. This works particularly well for Boomers, since we already have all the fine china and blenders we normally would request in a wedding registry. (Unless, of course, you lost all those things in the divorce.)
4. Live in the Lap of Luxury
If you can’t afford a spa weekend, how about just a spa day or a few hours of pampering? My first (and only) pedicure was administered during a bachelorette party, during which we all gabbled away while luxuriating in personal care. It was a total blast, particularly because the spa allowed us to supply our own libations and treats. They were happy for the group business and we came out maximally relaxed.
5. Sing Your Hearts Out
Karaoke isn’t for everyone, particularly in public, but it’s hard to resist a good warble in front of your closest friends. Remember that nobody expects everyone to turn all Beyoncé. There are always a few group-sing numbers particularly suited for those with a tin ear. You can rent a karaoke system for anywhere from $50 to $150, depending on the quality and number of song collections you select. If you don’t have a rental company in town, companies like Nationwide Karaoke will ship a system to you.
6. Take Them Out to the Ballgame
…or the football, soccer or hockey game, perhaps? Whatever your gang’s favorite sport, it’s more fun when you share the experience. Baseball games particularly make for great bachelorette parties as there’s plenty of time to chat while sitting in the sun and sipping a beer or margarita, depending on the refreshments available at your local ballpark. Don’t overlook minor-league games as an inexpensive alternative.
7. Give Back
A new trend in bachelorette parties is to forsake the traditional debauchery in favor of volunteering on a community project, such as working on a home-building project for Habitat for Humanity. You might also organize donations for The Women’s Community, which supports victims of abuse and assault.
8. Get Cheesy
Our mothers were the original fondue nuts, but this is a trend that’s making a sizable comeback, with entire restaurants devoted to this customer-cooks method. Naturally, you don’t have to limit yourselves to cheese. You can add separate pots of boiling bouillon for meat and melted chocolate for dessert. You can round up the necessary fondue sets without making a major investment by cruising a few garage sales.
9. Exchange Clothes
One of the best parties I ever hosted was a clothes swap. We all brought cast-off items in good shape and had a great time modeling our new wardrobe items for each other. Best of all, it didn’t cost a cent. You can donate any remaining items to a local non-profit.
Kate Forgach is a Baby Boomer consumer specialist for Kinoli Inc. She has written about senior issues for 11 years as a Cooperative Extension specialist and for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. She has been featured in USA Today, Detroit News, New Orleans Times-Picayune, New Yorker magazine, “ABC World News,” NBC’s “TODAY” show and many other media outlets.