It’s your last hurrah as a single, and you want to celebrate in style—without breaking the bank. Fortunately, there are scores of fun, affordable options for you and the girls.
1. Shoot the Breeze
If outdoor adventure suits your fancy, gather the group and check out the local campground. For a small fee, you can pitch a tent, build a fire and enjoy s’mores while trading stories all night long. Bring games and a radio, and make sure you have a camera to document the doings. To keep costs low, have everyone bring something—food, wine, camping gear or games, for instance. On treadlightly.org you’ll find some excellent suggestions and tips on camping safely. If you don’t live near a campground, simply pitch a tent in a friend’s backyard and pretend you’re nesting in the woods.
2. Cook Up Some Fun
Ever wish you could channel your inner Julia Child? If so, why not consider a cooking klatsch? Not only will you have fun with your friends, but you’ll also learn a new skill. “Many cooking schools offer one-time classes that are ideal for a bachelorette party,” says Joyce Scardina Becker, a wedding coordinator and the founder of Events of Distinction in San Francisco. After guests agree on a menu, they each cook a dish with help from a pro, then sit down to savor the meal they’ve prepared. Many schools offer a group discount or allow you to bring your own wine. The Viking Cooking School, with more than a dozen locations around the country (vikingcookingschool.com), enhances the experience by giving each guest a recipe to take home. Bon appétit!
3. Girlhood Revisited
Flash back to your girlhood by throwing an authentic slumber party—no boys allowed, of course! “Make the event even more grown-up by serving homemade pizzas topped with inexpensive yet gourmet ingredients like fresh arugula tossed with lemon juice and olive oil,” says Jes Gordon, author of Party Like a Rock Star (GPP Life). “Serve up a signature cocktail, and have your friends bring their favorite chick flick. Snack on spicy popcorn and Rice Krispie treats to make your gathering even more of a fiesta.”
4. Spa Tactics
If you and your friends yearn for a beauty day, but it’s not in the budget, consider an expedition to the local cosmetology school. Here you’ll get all the pampering you crave for much less—up to 70 percent of what it would cost at a local spa. The Academy for Salon Professionals in Santa Clara, California, offers a 60 minute facial for $35 and includes a complimentary skin analysis.) “It’s a win-win situation for both of you,” says Deborah Porter, event marketer and founder of creativitymadefresh.com. “The students get to hone their aesthetic skills, and all of you have a spa experience without the price tag.” When you’re finished, uncork a bottle of champagne to celebrate how beautiful you look!
5. Fun and Games
Who says poker is only for the boys? Girls, too, can enjoy a night of betting, bluffing and going for the full house. As Laura Maffeo, author of Girls' Night In (Ryland Peters and Small) says, “All you need is a deck of cards, some snacks and your best poker face.” And, of course, a classic cocktail. Real-life bride Nicole Kirkitsos of New York took things a step further: After her party, she hired a limo for an hour to pick up the group and whisk them to their favorite no-covercharge dance club. Talk about luxe for less!
6. High Noon
Tried and true—but no less fun—is hosting a bridal lunch at a favorite restaurant. “Nowadays there are plenty of places offering great bargains,” says Denise Vivaldo, author of Do It for Less! Parties (Terrance Publishing).“You’re apt to find three courses for under $20 a person with no corkage fees if you bring your own wine.” To add some esprit to the party, Vivaldo suggests having the bride write down her top concerns for the wedding, then solicit volunteers to help with each worrisome task—like writing thank-you notes. Hopefully, that task goes to the girl with the best handwriting!
Photography: Loupe Images/Claire Richardson.