Alternative ideas for the best boho-themed parties

Posted by Caio Petelinkar on

Boho hen dos

Planning a hen do? First of all – congratulations to the lucky bride-to-be! If you’re thinking of a boho hen-do – will we also see a boho bride, or has that not been decided yet? Anyway, we’ve got you covered when it comes to hen do supplies.

There is a range of party ideas, venues and incredible outfit choices for you to consider for the big night before the big day. A boho hen do is a great way to put the bride-to-be front and centre – exactly where she should be – without slapping a tasteless ‘L’ plate on her and dragging her around a few bars.

Here’s why we think you should plan a boho hen do, a little bit of history on the topic, and what you’ll need to make it a day, night or weekend to remember...

What is boho?

Haven’t heard of boho before? Does bohemian ring a bell, then? This style has been around for more than two centuries, ever since the bohemian counterculture of post-revolution French. These artists, poets and musicians either couldn’t afford to buy contemporary fashion or chose not to. Their ‘bohemian’ lifestyle was one of culture, peace and free love, all qualities later absorbed by the ‘beat’ generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the late 1960s.

However, in the many decades that passed between these two eras, there was also the Aesthetic Movement – a rebellion against the Victorian era in Britain – and the Romantics. Both of these countercultures, like some of the bohemians, chose to wear clothes from other eras, rejecting contemporary fashion and believing that the Industrial Revolution was dehumanising society.

Choosing loose, soft, handmade clothing coloured with organic dyes, and further personalised with embroidery, women of the Aesthetic Movement rejected corsets, crinolines, and the stiflingly stiff bodices associated with Victorian-era fashion.

Like the Bohemians, they considered themselves freer from society, conformity and expectation. Instead, they opted for a life of communal living, chasing experience as opposed to money, and spiritual as opposed to educational development.

Yes, many of them also believed in free love. Agreed, this isn’t the typical foundation for a wedding (other than maybe in polyamorous matrimony – it’s a thing!), but it doesn’t follow that your boho hen do won’t be the perfect preparation for the big day.

Boho was also very much about committing to a lifestyle, even when it sometimes seemed easier not to – and, of course, marriages and long-term relationships often occurred between the people in these communities.

What makes a boho theme?

Excitingly, there are many different approaches you could take to solve this little conundrum. We’ve already mentioned the beatniks, the hippies and the others above, which already gives you plenty of options to choose from in terms of what to wear.

There’s also the more modern ‘boho-chic’ look (think what you’d wear at a summer music festival, without the light-to-heavy covering of mud) and, along a similar seasonal style, a more dreamy, pixie theme – imagine something straight from the stage of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

This may read like another way of suggesting that, for a boho-themed hen do, you can do anything. Well, you can, as boho is all about individual freedom; however, certain consistencies run through all of these 19th to 21st-century trends.

Flowers in the hair would complement almost all of the themes and fashions above, as would knitted or crocheted clothing either in a natural white or dyed with a seasonal colour inspired by nature.

This brings us, neatly, to another consistent feature of boho. Nature is not only the venue for many a hippy gathering over the years; it was also the setting for Shakespeare’s mischief-filled comedy, and inspiration to the original Bohemians, who modelled their attire on wandering gypsies from Central Europe.

Come up with an ideal boho look, and build the rest of your theme around it, or give all invitees the option of creating their own style. You could end up with a boho hen do that captures the spirit of boho culture throughout the ages!

Where should a boho hen do take place?

Depending on the time of year, the budget and the interests of the bride-to-be, you’re not stuck for choice when it comes to locations. If your boho bride has an interest in the history of bohemian culture, there’s really no better place to begin than bohemian Paris itself.

Also known as “artists’ Paris,” from Montparnasse to Montmartre, you can absorb the modern cafes, galleries, and brasseries that were once the inspiring surroundings of the bohemian counterculture.

In the 1920s, a second generation of artists and writers gravitated to the cafes around Saint-Germain-des-Prés – one of the first areas in Europe where Jazz music later began to scat-and-hum through the streets.  It is also where Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus created brave new waves of philosophy, with absurdism and existentialism.

If you plan for this extravagant hen adventure into the arts, look for dates when the Observatoire de Paris offers evening tours and give you hen a guided tour of the various phases of Venus or the Moon.

You could also tap into one of the most influential boho traditions of the 20th century, and throw a festival in any field or back garden back home. Think ‘glamping’ as opposed to camping, and bring all the throws, rugs and enormous cushions you can find.

Decorate the natural area with dreamcatchers, pom poms, lanterns and candles, give everyone a floral crown or tiara, and get settled in for an evening of magic and memory-making.  By throwing in a little faux fur and a few ponchos, you’ve got yourself a boho-chic evening that shouldn’t turn into a festival in its own right (be careful to ensure it remains a private event and not another Woodstock!).

Many hen dos like this take place at home, with the security of a warm bed nearby in case of adverse weather conditions spoiling the ambience. You could also dress up and decorate your garden, before heading for a night on the town later or throwing a boho house party (more on this to come!).

However, if your hen has always been partial to live music, why not set up your boho camp at a music festival for the weekend? You could have ready-made glamping facilities, a range of alternative music, entertainment and culture nearby, and several days to go through an entire wardrobe of boho fashion.

What activities should take place at a boho hen do?

Fancy throwing a crafty hen do? By gathering the materials beforehand, you and your hens could get to work on creating a floral crown, a unique piece of tie-dye fashion, or even a dreamcatcher to watch over you in your hotel room or tent when the night is over.

Flower crowns, in particular, have been popular with celebrities, bloggers and vloggers in the last few years. They give your guests the chance to show a little creative flair, but challenge them to keep each crown in one piece for the rest of the event!

Cupcake decorating is another popular activity – especially as you can now find edible flowers, glitter and cupcake toppers at some supermarkets and many specialist stores online.

You could begin right with the basics, mixing flour, eggs and butter, or go straight for the decorative by buying plain cupcakes beforehand. However, the time it takes for your cake mixture to rise does give you the chance to pop open the bubbly and enjoy a few pre-drinks while you wait.

This would also give you and the hens an hour or so to try another popular boho hen do activity – cocktail making! While a few bottles of Prosecco would get the day going, a cocktail-making masterclass gives your guests the challenge of combining flavours, syrups and fruit garnishes to create the ultimate boho hen do drink.

If you add cocktail making to a list of other activities, do try to make sure you don’t forget about the others – maybe set a few timers to remind yourself about the cupcakes rising in the oven!

While it’s doubtful that karaoke was part of bohemian culture, many members of the first boho generation were musicians involved in the arts world. Music has been synonymous with every rejuvenation of boho culture ever since, from beatniks through to the birth of boho-chic, when Sienna Miller arrived at Glastonbury in faux fur and denim shorts. Give your hens a voice with a microphone, some speakers and a playlist of alternative music from the 1950s onwards.

Finally, don’t forget to take some photos. A few disposable cameras, like those you often find on tables at weddings, could help you create some authentic boho hen do memories. While there’s no doubt that a deluge of photos will be headed straight for Instagram (or even Pinterest if your crafty activities go to plan!), these now old-fashioned cameras still capture the moments that are often forgotten.

With a little more craft, a photo album of the day will also make an ideal gift for a bride-to-be to cherish forever.

What décor makes a boho hen do?

If an outdoor boho hen do isn’t an option, then transform a living room, dining room or conservatory into a boho haven. Aside from the tents, everything from an outdoor glamping theme will work, with the added bonus that none of your floral crowns, cupcakes or freshly-tie-dyed t-shirts are going to get wet.

Get creative with the lighting, add brightly-coloured garlands or golden lanterns throughout the room or home, and maybe give the bride-to-be an entrance way of petals as she arrives at her big night ahead of the big day.

Your décor will really depend on the boho theme on which you decide. The most popular theme is for the hens to wear all-white, knitted or crocheted garments, so complement white with light, natural shades. For boho-chic, add a little faux fur and some multi-cultural décor.

If you opt for a hippy theme, psychedelics are a must – but, for a beatnik or classic bohemian theme, make the room a little more moody with low lighting and candles aplenty!

What food should be served at a boho hen do?

We’ve covered drinks, and you’re probably not going to last all day on just a few cupcakes. Therefore, when it comes to food, this is really up to what you are your hens would like to eat.

Parisian bohemians were poor people and weren’t blessed with a wealth of choice. With most subsequent generations of boho culture essentially being countercultures themselves, they were also often less affluent, and non-conformist. What they ate wasn’t really important to who they were, as they were free to do as they pleased within the limits of what they could afford.

If you’re planning a boho menu, maybe channel a little boho-chic philosophy and opt for locally-sourced ingredients. Put together a menu of multicultural delicacies and promote sustainability and recycling throughout the party.

This not only ensures that everything from what you’re wearing to what you’re eating is sprinkled with a boho touch. It is also just generally good practice for the planet – and plenty of boho enthusiasts over the years would agree!

Finally, we’d just like to wish you and the other hens a wonderful boho hen do, and the bride-to-be an amazing day at the start of her new life. Whatever combination of styles, colours, textures and tastes you opt for, you’re sure to be in for a day, night or weekend of magic, love and laughter.

Do take a look at our boho range when you’re setting up your party, and subscribe to our newsletter to receive special offers, free giveaways, and once-in-a-lifetime deals, for your once-in-a-lifetime events.

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