So you’re the best man at your friend’s wedding. All you have to do is give a funny speech at the reception, right? Think again. Some serious responsibilities come with the lead groomsman role — namely, planning the bachelor party. And you need this party to be unforgettable. No pressure.
You can’t depend on things to work out through dumb luck, like the guys in the Hangover movies. You’re going to have to make a plan.
But while strip clubs, steakhouses, and trips to Vegas are classic stag party activities, such a trip isn’t a fit for every husband-to-be. Luckily, there are countless ways to get creative with bachelor party ideas, tailored to your friend’s tastes.
Here are six concepts you can implement easily for your buddy’s bachelor party, plus some tried-and-true tips to make it a success.
Bachelor Party for the Outdoorsman
We’ve all got that one friend who loves the great outdoors. He likely has a beard, and he also likely doesn’t fancy going out to nightclubs. Why not throw this modern lumberjack the perfect bachelor party in his favorite place — nature? Plan a simple camping trip with the groomsmen and BYO a few cases of beer, burgers and hot dogs for grilling, tents, and maybe some kayaks or canoes if you’re near a body of water. (Choose grass-fed meats for true natural friendliness.)
You can even roast s’mores and trade ridiculous stories over the fire pit, and the controlled area of your campsite (as well as the occasional roaming park ranger) will ensure nothing gets too out of hand. Just make sure drinking is allowed on the campground — some state parks have rules against alcohol consumption.
Bachelor Party for the Beach Bum
Our country is flanked by two beautiful coasts and dotted with endless lakes. A beach or lake house getaway is a perfect destination for a bachelor party. Just by renting a house near the water, buying a bunch of drinks and food, and inviting groomsmen, you’re already off to a great start for a relaxing and fun event. If interactive activities are your thing, consider surf lessons for all the groomsmen, or a scuba diving excursion with a rented boat. (Yes, there’s an app for that.) Don’t forget the sunscreen.
Bachelor Party for the Snow Fan
Nothing beats a mountain lodge on the slopes that you have all to yourself. If the groom is an avid skier or snowboarder, and the wedding is at the tail end of winter, consider a rented house in Colorado, Vermont, Upstate NY, Utah, the Poconos, or a number of other great snowy destinations. Even if all your groomsmen aren’t into winter sports, you can still have just as much fun at the lodge bars (strategically placed all along the ski mountain for convenience).
Stock your rental property with groceries and snacks so you guys can cook up a feast. Bring plenty of beverages, DVDs and vintage videogame consoles (Nintendo 64 brings people together). Voila: you’ve got yourself the makings of a killer bachelor party. This type of event is especially good when the groomsmen aren’t already close with one another. By essentially kicking into “survival mode” in the snow-covered mountains, you’ll automatically create a team-building mindset, and you’ll likely leave the house with a newfound bond.
Bachelor Party for the Sports Fanatic
Incorporate some competitive sports into your bachelor party plans. Buying 5-10 tickets to an NFL game can be pricey, but you can have just as much fun tailgating the big game in the parking lot — then retreating back to the house or hotel afterward for more sporty shenanigans. Or make the athletic aspect of the party participatory, with paintball, bowling, go-kart racing, or other live games that can involve the whole group. And don’t forget — there are always sports bars.
Bachelor Party for the Low-Key Guy
Everyone’s got that one friend who claims, “I don’t really go out.” (How did he get engaged?) This calls for festive hibernation, in the comfort of an Airbnb or other rental property. Just have everyone throw in a few bucks for the overnight stay, and bring some interactive games – think Cards Against Humanity, customized Jenga blocks, or any number of drinking games that help bring out the honesty in people. You could even set up a Xbox Halo tournament for a little healthy competition among groomsmen.
To add a relaxing touch to the low-key bachelor party, book back-to-back massages on demand through the Zeel app, delivered to your house or hotel. These can be clothed table massages, if you’d prefer. Technically you don’t even need to plan ahead for this — Zeel massage appointments can be booked on-the-fly with as little as an hour’s notice, and the massage therapist brings the table, sheets, and everything your group needs. Just make sure you do the massages before you drink heavily, or you risk canceling out the positive effects.
Bachelor Party for the Party Animal
We’re not saying Vegas is a bad idea. All we’re saying is to think outside the Strip. There are a million ways to craft a crazy experience for your friend who likes to party hard. You can plan a bar crawl in the destination of your choice — anywhere that has a lively downtown or center city district. Kick it up a notch even further by creating a scavenger hunt or game out of it. I once participated in a bachelor party that involved a Jumanji-themed bar crawl through Baltimore. Everyone’s faces were painted to correspond to their team, and each roll of the dice led to things like a human pyramid in the middle of a bar, people trading clothes with strangers, competitive axe throwing, and swimming in a rooftop pool.
Tips for Bachelor Party Success
Don’t over-plan activities.
When people are hung over the morning after, they don’t want to rush around fulfilling your intricately plotted itinerary. The most important thing is crafting a laid-back experience, where everyone feels the fun is happening organically. Yes, have a list of ideas handy. But don’t book tickets to every single event, as you will most certainly not make it to everything – and if you do, the night will fly by so quickly that you won’t actually get to enjoy it. Think of your plan as “freedom with a framework.”
Keep a threaded email conversation with your group leading up to the event. Get everyone’s cell phone numbers as well, just in case the group gets separated at any point during the night (or people ignore their personal emails, as tends to happen when you’re asking them to do something).
Be clear about money.
If you’re asking for cash in advance, make sure you are 100% clear about how much things costs. Don’t lowball and then ask for more later. There shouldn’t be surprises along the way, like cover charges and hotel fees. This is especially key if you have guests on a budget.
Equally important, make sure you collect the money that’s owed to you, if you’re the one booking things in advance. Everyone should have the Venmo app by now for quick and easy payment transfers, and if they don’t, make them download it. This is extremely helpful in splitting checks at the restaurant or bar, or simple divvying up the total sum of the trip.
Provide lodging for everyone.
Always have a place for everybody to stay, even if some people say they’re just swinging by for the dinner and drinks part. If you host the party right, chances are your friends will be having so much fun that the guy who’s “just stopping by for half an hour” will get jealous and end up sticking around after all. You’ll want to have sufficient hotel capacity, floor/couch space, or tents to accommodate the whole group.
Avoid casino night.
Yes, these gaming establishments provide a great built-in nightlife ambience, where you can gamble and act a little bit out-of-your-shell. But I want to warn against casino bachelor parties specifically in two instances:
If the groom hates gambling. No amount of peer pressure is going to make this experience enjoyable for him if he just doesn’t like casinos. Remember, this party has to be about what he would like, not what you like, or what you saw in Casino Royale.
If any of your friends like to gamble a little too much. You’ve probably seen it happen before. Group of guys shows up to the casino. Everyone’s pumped. Energy is high. And then the group immediately splits up to play their favorite casino games on their own. Travis likes the craps table. Bill is a poker guy. Two or three others just pass the time with slot machines. Before you know it, the crew is broken up, satisfying their respective addictions. Even worse, one of them starts losing money. Now he’s down $300. And nothing sets a night off on the wrong foot like being in a financial hole.
Do yourself a favor – avoid the casino altogether, unless EVERYONE is an equal fan of the idea. You’ll keep the group together and ensure a happier vibe.
Think 15% outside his comfort zone.
Tailoring the bachelor party to the groom’s personality doesn’t mean you have to deliver exactly what he asked for and nothing more. Kick it up a notch — whether that’s with a surprise activity (e.g. tickets to a comedy show or shooting range), an experience he’s never done before (like sky-diving or karaoke), or a unique lodging situation that he wouldn’t otherwise have tried (Airbnb has rented treehouses to over 114,000 people!). Come up with something he’ll never forget.
Suggested Reading: Booking a Massage Spa Party for Groups of 3 to 300 People
Zack is a writer, producer and marketer with 10+ years' experience in the advertising, nonprofit and tech startup industries. He is currently the Education Production Team Lead at Foundr Magazine, a web site for entrepreneurship education and was previously Content Manager at Zeel. Learn more about Zack on LinkedIn.