'Hen weekends' - 60 points on a triple word score. Ahem.
It's the age old hen party dilemma: wild and crazy hedonism or a game of gin rummy?
A hen weekend of activities that would make your mum tut and hang her head in shame, or a weekend of Scrabble?
According to American etiquette expert and all round party-pooper Peggy Post, "Whatever entertainment is planned (on a
hen night), it should not embarrass, humiliate, or endanger the honoree or any of the guests."
All of which is, of course, absolutely fine and dandy provided you're planning your hen weekend for some time in the 18th Century.
Let's be honest - with corsets that tight and skirts that capacious you'd be hard pressed to do anything more dangerous than break wind. So, if you happen to be Jane Austen and you're looking for the finest in hen parties then by all means follow the advice of Ms Post. It's likely Mr Darcy wouldn't approve of you rally driving and quad biking anyway.
If, on the other hand, you are a 21st Century gal and you'd prefer the sort of hen night that would have etiquette queen Ms Post reaching for the smelling salts then you may be looking for something a little.edgier.
Hen nights: rare enough to be worth doing right.
The thing is, hen nights are a rarity.
By rights everybody should have just the one - assuming you picked right in the first place, of course - and even if you didn't they're still pretty damn rare. As rare as accountants with sex appeal; as rare as a TV programme without Gordon Ramsay in it; as rare as . well, hen's teeth.
And when something's that rare it has to be worth treasuring. It has to be worth investing in - with time and money. It has to be worth planning.
You wouldn't book the holiday of a lifetime on a whim. Just turn up at the airport with a suitcase packed with clothes for all weathers and take whatever happens to be the next flight. You'd end up holidaying in Beirut; the Gaza Strip; Cleethorpes.
And you wouldn't buy your house without careful research and preparation. You wouldn't wander into an estate agent's with a pin and map, plonk the former down on the latter and say "I'll have one here," as you randomly select a salubrious location between the local land fill and the sewage works.
Well it's just the same with your hen night. It needs careful thought, preparation and planning. Without it you risk angering the gods of chance and you will fall foul of the law of sod.
This is the law that says that the paintballing session your hen party has booked is run by a bunch of rednecks who forgot to mention they prefer using live ammo.
It's the law that says the four taxis you've ordered to take you and you hen party in to town will each arrive half an hour apart from each other - and two of them will be rickshaws.
It's the law that says the restaurant your hen party stumbles will have you fighting over the floral table decoration as it's the only thing that's fresh.
Don't anger the gods of chance. Don't tempt the law of sod. What you need is some organisation.
Have the best of hen parties. Stay the best of friends.
Hen weekends don't organise themselves. But just occasionally it may be better if they did. That's because the only thing worse than leaving your hen night entirely to chance is your best mate saying 'leave it to me'.
This is because your friendship is likely to be based on fun, history and love. Unless you're worryingly hard-faced about how you've selected your friends over the years it's unlikely you picked them for their shrewd decision-making skills and their organisational abilities - especially in the hen weekend department.
If your best mate said that you needn't bother buying that new car because she'd made one for you the chances are you'd smile politely and edge carefully away from her.
If you returned from work to find that your best mate had fixed the plumbing you'd thank her, usher her out of the house and hit the Yellow Pages.
So why, when it comes to the biggest party of your life, are you suddenly assuming your mate is an acknowledged hen party planner?
Your mates are your mates for many reasons. They're the very reasons that your hen weekend, and most especially your hen night, will be such an enjoyable experience. But that doesn't mean your mates are the best candidates to organise your hen party, any more than they're the best candidates to stop global warming.
Planning hen weekends takes time and real organisational ability. Experience can be a huge factor in determining the outcome of the very best hen parties, but so few people have that experience. It's not like most of us are planning hen weekends week in and week out, is it?
You can avoid the time and effort. You can appease the law of sod. You can have the greatest, and edgiest, of hen nights without having to cross your fingers and trust your mates.
All you need is a hen weekend planning service.
The best of these will have checked out your activities and be able to recommend something that'll have your hen party screaming in delight, not horror.
They'll be able to sort the transport and the food. They'll even be able to arrange free entry to the best bars and clubs. All of which means you and your hen party will be able to avoid disappointment, danger, wasted time and queuing.
They'll even save you money.
They'll ensure you have the best of hen weekends with the best of friends.
After all, isn't that what it's all about? Unless, of course, you'd really rather opt for the Scrabble.