Rebecca Armstrong: Hen nights can be amazing – or horribly embarrassing

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The Independent Online

I caught sight of a rather unusual list on a work friend's notepad recently. I won't go into the graphic details, but she was compiling a list of synonyms for the male member. After having a good goggle at it (and suggesting a few additions), I asked why she'd put penis to paper.

 It was all in aid of a forthcoming hen night, she explained, where each attendee would be given an alternative name for the night, chosen from the fruits of her labour. There was also going to be a stripper from the Full Monty school of disrobement. Luckily, I don't know the hen in question, so won't be invited to the festivities (and if I was, I'd already be compiling my own list – of excuses as to why I couldn't come).

I don't want to sound like a misery – I love a good hen night, and went on a corking one recently which left me with new friends as well as some photos that may come in useful for the purposes of blackmail in the future. There were some rude straws, and the hen gamely sported a headband that was thoroughly NSFW. But what made the night such fun was the fact that we took part in activities – go-karting, karaoke, dancing – that didn't involve anyone being horribly embarrassed (those who didn't want to drive/warble/boogie didn't have to), nor did it involve having to spend hundreds of pounds.

I'm hoping to have a similarly non-cringeworthy celebration at the end of the summer, when another friend has her hen. When I received the email about what we'd be doing, I must confess, I was slightly nervous. My soon-to-be-married pal is one of the most accomplished partiers I've ever met and I was worried about all-night clubbing as well as the potential for well-oiled but scantily clad adult performers. But now I'm hugely excited: we're all going to be doing a 90-minute walk over the roof of The O2 in London, followed by some afternoon revelry in Greenwich. Those without a head for heights can skip the roof bit, and anyone without a taste for grog can dodge the pubs. Rather than being worried about spending the day with a group of people (bar the bride) I've never met, I'm excited about tackling something new with friends I don't know yet that isn't a party game that involves replica genitalia.

Actually, maybe I am a bit of a misery – I've always claimed that I was too lazy to have a hen night myself (organising a wedding was enough to almost finish me off), but perhaps it's because I was too scared that my friends would called me "Todger" all night and book a Butler in the Buff. Still, with friends getting married left, right and centre, there's still time for both of these delights yet.