The idea of defined lines between guys and girls in friendship groups has evolved over the years, and while some brides will have a posse of girls, or likewise, grooms a gang of lads, that they want to celebrate their hen or stag night with, for others it’s not quite as clear cut. That’s why we’ve come up with a list of ideas for a mixed gender hen or stag party, otherwise known as a “Sten do” or “Sten party”!
The thing is, you can have your own hen or stag weekends, and also have a Sten Do too if you like (in other words really milk the whole getting married thing!). If you’ve been together or have known each other a long time, then chances are you share a lot of mutual friends, and so want a pre-wedding night with the whole gang together. For other couples, it might still be their own personal party, but with a mixed guest list, likewise, these ideas could work for same-sex couples who are sharing their night with all their friends.
It’s not like men can’t go for Afternoon Tea or to a day spa, and it’s not as if women can’t do a pub crawl in Prague or get into an inflatable Zorb – these ideas are just about breaking the stereotypes, and coming up with an activity that has broad appeal across your gang of mates.
1. (Pent)House Party
If you and your pals spent your single days crammed into the kitchen at a house party, why not pay homage to those times with a luxurious twist? Lots of hotels offer cool suites and rooms where guests can host their own A-list style private party. (Or maybe even a slumber party?) In Dublin, The Dean hires out a cool loft space with a foosball table and its own bar, and The Morgan Penthouse comes with its own outdoor terrace (and airstream caravan) or in Cork, the Clayton Hotel has an amazing split-level Penthouse suite where they offer private dining and drink stations.
2. Surf Trip
So this is something you normally see gangs of friends do on telly, but it does look like a whole lot of fun. And luckily the West Coast boasts some incredible surfing, with Bundoran, Strandhill and Lahinch among the best spots in Ireland for a surf weekend. With schools nearby offering gear hire and lessons, this is a great idea for both total beginners and surfing pros. Look at Lahinch Surf School, or Strandhill Surf School for more information.
3. Tipple Tastings
We know we knocked pub crawls as a mixed gender hen or stag activity, but with so many gin and whiskey distilleries popping up, along with micro-breweries, wine tastings, and you know, that world-famous storehouse on our doorsteps, it’s kind of hard to overlook tastings and tours as a great Sten Party option (providing you don’t have any non-drinkers in the gang).
For whiskey, Teelings in Dublin have started offering distillery tours, in Northern Ireland, Bushmills offer a tour and a tasting, Dingle does the same in Kerry, and Jameson offer tastings in Dublin and Cork. For wine, look to Ely Wine Bar in Dublin or The Wine Society at Hayfield Manor in Cork. For gin, Listoke Gin School offers you the chance to make your own spirit. And for beer, check out White Hag in Sligo, Galway Bay Brewery, Franscican Well Brewery in Cork, Wicklow Wolf in Bray, and that little-known micro-brewery, Guinness.
Okay, so karaoke isn’t everyone’s jam, but we find it nigh-on impossible to put together a list of great night out ideas without including karaoke. Even if someone hates the idea of singing in public, get them in a private booth with a microphone and their favourite song, and they’ll be giving it socks. We’ve got a whole post on karaoke spots around Ireland, so click here for our favourites!
Bowling might seem more like a kids’ party activity, but more and more cool bowling places have been opening up with their own bars, late-night opening and grown-up vibes. Add in some friendly wagers and you have the makings of a great night out that all your mates will enjoy. Check out The Mardyke in Cork or Base Entertainment in Kildare. Bray Bowl, Super Dome and Pirate’s Cove offer BYOB nights.
6. Boat Trip
There are a number of ways you can have a boat trip for your HenStag or Sten Party. The more glamorous option is a boat party, AKA booking out your very own cruise for a jaunty, pre-wedding soirée – Charter Ireland is a good place to start. The next option takes to the high seas, with the likes of Dublin Bay Cruises, Casey’s Skelling Islands Tours, or Dingle Dolphin Tours offering fun sea excursions. Or you could make a weekend of it (or indeed a week!) and hire out a self-sail cruiser or barge and make your way down the Shannon – Shannon River has lots of info on boat hire and routes. Bottom line, boats are fun, and they appeal to all tastes, whether your friends are the types to take the helm, or hang out at the back drinking bubbly (guilty!).
7. Book Out a Cinema
We love the idea of booking out a cinema for the night, and what better occasion to do it than a mixed gender hen or stag? It’s a great option for larger parties too. Best of all, you can choose your fave films to share with your friends – Clueless and The Sound of Music double bill anyone? There are lots of private-hire cinemas in Ireland, including The Montenotte Hotel in Cork, IMC Cinemas and Excelsior Cinema. We’ve got a full post about Dublin options, which you can read here.
8. A Day At The Races
A real crowd-pleaser, a day at the races is a fun excursion for everyone, whether you’re partial to a flutter, like to dress up, or simply love soaking up the atmosphere. Along with the big festivals in Galway, Leopardstown and Punchestown, there are regular racing events around the country, so check out GoRacing for all the details and for greyhound racing, visit the IGB.
9. Escape Down The Country
Connemara, North Donegal, Wexford, the Burren, West Cork, Sligo, the Ring of Kerry, North Antrim and of course, the islands; we’re lucky enough to live in a country teeming with stunning countryside, not to mention gorgeous cottages to rent with cosy fires, nearby walks, and local pubs, just waiting for you and your pals. A weekend down the country is an ideal mixed-gender activity, where you can do as much, or as little, as you want (just don’t forget to pack the boardgames!). Look to these amazing Irish Airbnbs for inspiration.
10. Team-Building Trips
Anyone who’s ever been forced to do a team-building day in work might groan at this one, but there are lots of adventure centres and companies around the country offering really great (non-lame!) activities that are ideal for a mixed group of friends (and way more fun to do with your besties, than some people you don’t really know from accounting!). From water sports to murder mysteries, treasure hunts to jailbreak challenges, and music sessions to survival academies, this is a surprisingly versatile option. Try searching for ‘team-building’ on Google, rather than simple hen or stag activities, and you’ll find endless ideas to get everyone in your gang involved. Check out Bay Sports, Boda Borg, Orangeworks, Adventure.ie, Murder on the Menu, or Carlingford Adventure for inspiration.