Monthly Archives: March 2015

Why you don’t need to go abroad for your stag do

In recent years, stag party weekends have grown in scale and ambition, with jaunts to destinations from Barcelona to Budapest commonplace. If you’re looking for stag do ideas, going overseas can seem tempting. After all, it offers the chance to experience somewhere new while enjoying the company of your best mates over an extended stag party lasting a few days. Equally, in some cases, there may be the prospect of better weather, so you could catch some sun at the same time.

But are these kinds of stag weekends really all they are cracked up to be?

For a start, booking flights and accommodation can be more complicated when overseas travel is involved. It’s also almost certainly likely to be pricier for you and your mates to celebrate abroad. What’s more, unfortunately, given the reputation British stag groups have, your stag party may not get quite the welcome you’d hoped for. It was announced last autumn, for example, that the city council in Estonia’s capital Tallinn wanted to crack down on public drinking, with a daytime ban on selling booze on Sundays, among further restrictions. Due to come in to force this spring, the move has no doubt left some stag do organisers with a bit of a headache – and not the kind you get after a fun night out.

Things can go wrong in other ways, too.

This month, a stag party of 20 lads were kicked off their Manchester to Alicante flight with Ryanair when they were en route to a stag do in Benidorm; they were forced to leave before their plane had even taken off. This followed an alleged incident that reportedly left an air steward in tears, although the lads denied having done anything wrong. The group had to leave the plane, and go back home to Wrexham, north Wales, after police were called. The £4,000 they’d paid for the stag weekend was lost.

Of course, this is an extreme example, and plenty of stag weekends in Europe go perfectly well. But perhaps these guys would have been better off planning something closer to home. Perhaps you would be, too.

An alcohol-free stag do – thinking the unthinkable?

Think of the average British stag party and the adjective most likely to come to mind is “raucous.” Nightclubs, japes at the groom’s expense, a pole dancer or stripper, and buckets of alcohol all spring to mind. But does it have to be that way? One recent news story had a different take on what stag weekends usually offer.

Five lads from north-eastern Scotland are celebrating their friend’s impending marriage by completing an epic road trip across Europe to raise money for charity. Their goal? To make a pound for Cancer Research UK for every one of the 3,000 miles they will be covering.

The five are taking part in the Barcelona Bangers car rally, which heads off from Calais on 22 May, bound for Spain’s second city. But they will need to drive the car from Laurencekirk in Scotland to Calais first.

Under the rules of the event, the cars must be worth no more than £400, and decorated in a theme the driver chooses.

Of course, such a journey would not be for everyone, but it does show that if you’re looking for stag do ideas, you have many options.

Sober stag dos seem to be catching on – even celebs are doing it! Comedian and actor James Corden and McFly’s Harry Judd spent their stag parties sober, and presenter Dermot O’Leary loves outdoor activities so his stag do involved two days of rock climbing.

While alcohol is a great social lubricant, team or sporting activities can get everyone talking as well, from five a side football to golf. Remember, when you make up teams, mix up colleagues and friends who don’t already know each other – they soon will!

So if someone in your party doesn’t drink, or you are teetotal yourself, your stag do certainly doesn’t have to be a write-off or boring – far from it. With a whole range of alcohol-free, pulse-racing pursuits on offer, you can have just as much fun, if not more.

Or you could have a sober daytime combined with drinking in the evening; it’s your stag do and the choice really is yours.

Photo: Lads by sk8geek licensed under Creative commons 5

The stag do: a brief history

There may seem something quite modern about the stag do, especially given the way stag parties have grown more popular in recent years, with stag weekends becoming increasingly ambitious. But the notion of a stag party dates back to the times of Henry VIII (and, given that he famously had six wives, he must have known a thing or two about getting married). He would command people to attend his bashes by town crier or letter – and you were asked to attend on pain of death!

Some, however, claim the tradition goes back to Sparta and the fifth century BC, when people would hold a banquet to honour and toast the groom and celebrate his final evening as an unmarried man with feasting and general merriment. This was especially the case for soldiers.

The concept of the stag do is now firmly embedded in Western cultures. In France, for example, the celebration is known as the “enterrement de vie de garcon” – literally, “the burial of life as a young boy”. In Italy, it is the “addio al celibato”, translated as “farewell to bachelorhood”.

Bachelor is a term first used by Chaucer in the 1300s as a reference to a single male, and in the US, the term “bachelor party” was first seen in 1922 to describe a “jolly old party” – now it simply refers to a stag party. In Australia though, it’s known as a “buck’s party”.

Throughout history, there have been many instances of infamous stag parties. As far back as 1896, a stag do organised by Herbert Barnum Seeley, a grandson of renowned showman PT Barnum, ended in a police raid following rumours that a well-known belly dancer would be strutting her stuff naked.

Another famous stag do was Jimmy Stewart’s. Before he wed Gloria Hatrick, he held a big knees-up at Chasen’s in Beverly Hills, which apparently included dwarves popping out of a serving dish.

Clearly times have changed since the days of a quiet pint down the pub the night before your wedding. There are now more options for celebrating than ever, with whole stag weekends very common.

The common theme across centuries and cultures, however, is always the same: a farewell to bachelorhood and raucous fun!

How to balance spontaneity and organisation when planning a stag do

So you’ve just been given the inviolable best man duty of organising a truly stellar stag party. That can’t be too hard, can it? But there’s a question that you need to address: should your stag do be a simple, fast-and-loose affair, or something more complex? Do you just get the gang together and strike out for somewhere with alcohol and a ready supply of fun yet dodgy diversions, or do you organise a full weekend of carefully-planned activities, ranging from quad-biking to strip poker? Well, maybe not strip poker – nobody wants to see the groom’s wedding tackle before the actual wedding…

When it comes to planning the stag do, striking the perfect balance between spontaneity and organisation can be a best man’s worst nightmare. You want to allow enough room for the fun to happen organically, but you also want to make sure that there are enough off-kilter activities lined up that the party never runs out of steam. Sadly, there are no hard and fast rules: the perfect balance of freedom to organisation will be different for every stag party and will depend a great deal on how much external stimulus (not that kind – get your mind out of the gutter!) it takes to get your particular circle of friends into full-on party mode. However, there are a couple of pointers you should always keep in mind.

Firstly, every stag do needs some level of planning. It’s not enough just to phone up the lads, meet somewhere that serves booze and play it entirely by ear from there. You need to at least have a vague idea what you’re planning on getting up to. That can include a fully-detailed itinerary of cool stuff to do or just a list of the best pubs and clubs in the area and how to get there. Whatever type of do you’re organising though, it will go much smoother if you are prepared to answer the question “what should we do now?”

Conversely, the second thing to remember is to embrace the chaos. At some point, every truly great stag party gains a momentum all of its own and therefore goes completely off-script. When this happens, don’t fight it unless it’s absolutely essential to do so. The whole point of a stag party is to give the groom one last night of unparalleled freedom, so when things start to turn seriously spontaneous, remember that it’s a good thing: it means you’ve achieved your objective.

With these hints in mind, you’re as ready as you’re ever going to be. Now get planning!