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A bachelorette party, hen(s) party, hen(s) night or hen(s) do, is a party held for a woman who is about to be married. The terms hen party, hen do or hen night are common in the United Kingdom and Ireland, while the terms hens party or hens night are common in Australia and New Zealand, and the term bachelorette party is common in the United States and Canada. The term stagette is sometimes used in Canada. It may also be referred to as a girls' night out or kitchen tea (South Africa in particular) or other terms in other English-speaking countries.
The bachelorette party is modelled after the bachelor party, which is itself historically a dinner given by the bridegroom to his friends shortly before his wedding. Despite its reputation as "a sodden farewell to bachelor days" or "an evening of debauchery," a bachelorette's party is simply a party, given in honour of the bride-to-be, in the style that is common to that social circle.
History: The bachelorette party is consciously modelled after the centuries-old bachelor's party, which is itself historically a dinner given by the bridegroom to his friends shortly before his wedding.
Although the practice of giving a party to honour the bride-to-be goes back for centuries, in its modern form, the bachelorette party may have begun during the sexual revolution of the 1960s. It was uncommon until at least the mid-1980s, and the first book on planning bachelorette parties wasn't published until 1998. Its cultural significance is largely tied to concepts of gender equality.
Initially, parties in honour of the bride-to-be that were labelled as bachelorette party often involved displays of sexual freedom, such as trading intimate secrets, getting drunk, and enjoying male strippers. Parties that honoured the bride-to-be without these elements avoided that label. Now the term is used for a wide variety of parties.
The phrase "Hen Party" mirrors the male "Stag Party" in referencing social stereotypes of each gender at the party.
Entertainment: Many different kinds of entertainment are selected, depending on what the organizers think will best please their guest of honour. While notions of a bachelorette party as a night of drunken debauchery persist in some social circles, it is becoming widely seen in America as an opportunity for female bonding. According to etiquette expert Peggy Post, "Whatever entertainment is planned, it should not embarrass, humiliate, or endanger the honouree or any of the guests."
When held in a private venue, such as the hostess's home, the party may take any form that pleases the hostesses and honours the bride-to-be. Dinners and cocktail parties, which provide comfortable opportunities for participants to talk or to give intimate advice to the bride-to-be, are common. Other hostesses choose a themed party, such as a "pamper party," with guests indulging in spa treatments, or a cooking class. While proposing a toast to the bride-to-be is common at most bachelorette parties, some centre on drinking games.
Many companies sell products aimed at the organizers of bachelorette parties, including packs of themed games, pre-printed invitations, decorations, novelties, and sex toys. In North America, it is common to hire a male stripper and/or attend a male strip club.