How can we turn a night at the bar into something more bachelor partyesque?
April 22, 2009 7:30 AM   Subscribe

How can I make a bachelor party that's really just a night at the bar with the guys into something slightly more bachelory? No strippers or costumes, please.

My brother is getting married and it's sort of not traditional and there isn't a best man. So I figured I'd better pull together some kind of bachelor something since that's usually the best man's job. He said all he really wanted was to get the guys together and just get a little bit drunk. He definitely doesn't want to go the stripper route. Been there done that, and it's not a 1980s movie. Also, due to scheduling issues it has to be on a Thursday, and he has to work Friday. A long string of pre-wedding stuff starts Friday night. So for those reasons it has to be a bit tame. Decent bedtime, not obliterated.

So we're going to a bar right near him that has good food, live music, beer brewed on site, pool, shuffleboard, darts, etc. It sounds like that's really what he wants, but I'd like to do something while we're there that makes it somewhat more than just a night at the bar. He wouldn't want something all showy like you see those bachelorette parties doing, going from bar to bar doing stunts and wearing costumes and stuff.

So what can we, the guys, do to spice it up just a bit and make it more fun and memorable? Some kind of running joke, some kind of game, anything that makes him laugh and have fun. Doesn't have to be ribald or laddish or lecherous - he's old enough to have that kind of stuff behind him. I'd like for us to stay there rather than drive off somewhere, so our location kind of doesn't matter - what's something the guys and I can do in any bar setting that would be fun? Thanks for your ideas.
posted by Askr to Human Relations (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Come up with a silly toast, such as "To the end of your real life" or "Well, THAT won't happen again, cheers!", and then try to get people to share stories about your brother, and every time someone mentions something that is part of your brother's single life, etc, everyone raises their glasses, says that all together, clink, and drink.

It can go on for hours, and get rowdier and more fun as people start making it into a broader joke, expand the anecdotes beyond your brother's life, get more drunk, etc.

Granted, this does take just the right group of people... And certainly isn't exclusive to other activities during the evening.
posted by hippybear at 7:38 AM on April 22, 2009

One night when I was out for a night at the bar with a group of (female) friends we encountered a group of men who were having a bachelor party that was a night out at the bar, but they had devised a a checklist of weird items that the groom-to-be had to complete before the night was over and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. The only items I can remember are probably a little more lecherous than you probably are looking for (like "find a girl named Dana and get her to kiss you" or "get a girl to give you a lapdance") but you can probably come up with your own more suitably tailored fun ideas (I don't know--get the bartender to create a shot for you, win the deer shooter game, get a stranger to buy you a drink, sink 5 consecutive balls in pool, things like that).
posted by Polychrome at 7:47 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Now, this is an off the wall idea that probably requires someone in your circle of friends to have engineer-ish tendencies or be good with tools and such. But here it is.

At my cousin's bachelor party, which was non-traditional (we went white-water rafting at a place in Ontario that sets up the runs and gives you a campsite to throw a tent on), one of his friends made an honest-to-god ball and chain. Thick steel chain attached to a post that was embedded in a giant ball of cement. Prior to heading out to the nearby bar, we held my the groom-to-be down and chained it to his leg with a master lock. We then pretended to hurl the key into the woods (fake key, obviously).

My cousin is always game for hilarity and carried the heavy ball around like a champ, and it was a less than obvious way to celebrate the night and something that won't easily be forgotten.

Now, I don't know whether this particular bit of tomfoolery is for you, but something crazy like this could be a lot of fun.
posted by dnesan at 7:52 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

This month's GQ has a big feature on bachelor parties with lots of helpful tips.
posted by hermitosis at 7:53 AM on April 22, 2009

A quick google search --> hermitosis's GQ tips: link (linked pdf inside).
posted by jabberjaw at 8:06 AM on April 22, 2009

We kicked my Bachelor Party off with a trip to the Driving Range. Totally low key, but it was an enjoyable start. None of us are pro-golfers, but it was nice to just talk and joke around. You may want to do something you haven't done in a LONG TIME, maybe Batting Cages or Go-Karts, things that are guaranteed to be fun and low-key.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 8:16 AM on April 22, 2009

Response by poster: Good tips so far everybody. I'm liking a checklist scenario of some sort as well as memory-recalling toasts - even the ball and chain! (though modified not to screw up floors maybe). Remember that we're not going to Vegas or golfing or hiking or anything - we're definitely in that one bar, and I want to think of things we can do there in addition to general fun bar stuff.
posted by Askr at 8:28 AM on April 22, 2009

This is a little more serious, but it has the potential to be really meaningful.

A tradition my friends and I have whenever one of us gets hitched is that at the bachelor party--preferably before much alcohol has been consumed--we sit the groom down and basically grill him until everyone is out of questions.

Most questions tend to focus on his relationship with the bride-to-be. Some of them are just purely informational, as these days we're spread out so much that odds are decent that at least some of us don't know the girl, but they're also intended to draw out what the guy is thinking about all of this.

Why? Well for starters, if he's got doubts, this is the time to express them, you know? Best now, among his closest friends, before he ties the knot, then next week or next year. I'm not married, but if there's one thing I've learned from the couples I know, it's that if either party is less than completely committed, don't do it. As this is likely to be the last time he can realistically call things off, it can be good to give him that out.

On the other hand, maybe he is completely convinced that this is what he wants to do. That's great too, and in that case, this can be an excellent way of mitigating those universal last-minute jitters. He'll have to express his commitment to this woman to his friends--which is good both for him to say and for them to hear--and this can go a long way towards clarifying for him why exactly he is where he is. So the night before, or the morning of, when he's asking himself "How the hell did I get here?" he'll have, fresh in his mind, the memory of sitting down with the guys and expressing the answer.

This is also a great way of getting good people involved in his marriage from day one. Being married is tough. Having people other than your spouse to rely on is all but essential. And doing something like this opens what could be deeply-needed lines of communication, even if they aren't needed for years to come. At some point in his future, he's going to ask himself "Why the hell did I get married?" Everyone does it. It's normal. But when that time comes, you and the rest of his friends will be able to say "Remember the bachelor party? You looked me in the eye and told me exactly why you wanted to do this." That can be a pretty powerful thing. Also, it's surprising how many people get married without getting the straight dope from someone who is, and this can be a pretty good way of getting that in there early.

Lastly, it's been my experience that over the course of the conversation, most of the participants wind up affirming their commitment to support the new couple in their marriage. Yeah, people say crazy things at weddings, and everyone kind of knows that most of them aren't entirely serious. But in an environment like this, saying "I've got your back," can be pretty meaningful. It's a chance for the groom's friends to affirm their love for and loyalty to him in spite of the pending change in his life. It's also a chance to affirm their support for the new couple, which many guys find helpful.

Nothing about this is hostile or antagonistic.* On the contrary, this is intended to be incredibly supportive. Good friends often have to ask each other tough questions, and I'd think that a day or three before making the biggest commitment of your life is a really good time to be asked tough questions. But when they're from people you care about, who care about you, this can be a really positive, relationship-affirming experience.

Look, bachelor parties are supposed to be bittersweet. You're having a party, hanging out with the guys, but this is one of the last times you're going to be able to do this before things change. Simply going out and getting trashed doesn't do justice to that. But sitting down and talking about it does, or at least it can.

*Most of the time. Occasionally there's something between the groom and a friend that needs to be worked out, and this can be a really good way of doing that. Particularly if said something involves the bride. You can defuse a lot of potential awkwardness at the ceremony and reception by having a heart-to-heart beforehand.
posted by valkyryn at 8:36 AM on April 22, 2009 [11 favorites]

even the ball and chain! (though modified not to screw up floors maybe)

Shop around at costume rental shops. You might be able to buy / rent a prop ball & chain for a prisoner outfit. Likely made out of plastic and not really weighing anything at all, just awkward to have to deal with in the bathroom and playing darts and pool and such.
posted by hippybear at 8:38 AM on April 22, 2009

A ball and chain can also be improvised from a thrift store bowling ball and a visit to the hardware store. I found one such setup lying next to the road one day (!), and saved it for a year or so until the next bachelor party I was invited to. It really was a hit, walking around downtown DC, eating in a nice restaurant, etc.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:15 AM on April 22, 2009

I was gonna post a bunch of pseudo-creative suggestions but I think you should just go with valkyryn's tradition. I think I'd want my bachelor's party to be like that too, before I proceed to get completely smashed.
posted by nihraguk at 10:42 AM on April 22, 2009

Response by poster: Oh go on nihraguk, give me your bunch of ideas! I think I'll use a bit of modified valkyryn but want fun stuff too.
posted by Askr at 10:48 AM on April 22, 2009

Maybe I should have made it clear earlier, but we do usually wind up getting pretty hammered in pretty short order once we're done talking. One time we wound up using Sharpies to write notes to the bride. . . on the groom. Someone else was dumped in a Speedo on one end of a walking bridge and picked up on the other side.

Neither of those seemed particularly appropriate for a bar night though. But don't think that sitting down for 30-60 minutes at the beginning of the evening and being all serious-like in any way precludes more festive activities.
posted by valkyryn at 1:16 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I went on a bucks night that had a few twists that made it stand out more than any other night. If anyone in the group yelled out freeze - everyone in the group that heard it would have to stop moving, talking, drinking, smoking, everything (except breathing). The first one to break bought a round. It was really funny to be talking to someone at the bar, hear the word "freeze" from the other side of the room and just instantly clam up.

If someone yelled "flood" then you had to get your feet off the ground. Stand on a chair, sit on a table, whatever it took, as if there was a flood.

There were others but I can't remember them now, I got a bit drunk, but its obviously something you can be creative with.
posted by Admira at 3:40 PM on April 22, 2009

Best answer: Oh we also did boat races that night, segregated into two teams (we all wore fake moustaches and had 70's style headbands - for the Aussies, Kiwis, Sth Africans and Engligh out there, we were the quintessential cricketers from the 70s).

If you do boat races with mid strength or light beer you don't get too hammered.
posted by Admira at 3:42 PM on April 22, 2009

At my bachelor party (held at an ice cream parlor, so even more tame than yours) somebody brought a pack of men's cotton briefs and a bunch of markers. Every bizarre or ribald thing you can imagine ended up drawn on them. When they brought me home, the two friends who drove me around wouldn't leave until I showed each pair to my wife to be.

It was hilarious for her and them and even mostly to me. We still have a couple of especially funny pairs sitting around.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:02 PM on April 22, 2009

Response by poster: MUSTACHES!!! YES!!!! Oh hell yes. I'm totally buying everyone a false mustache and we are totally wearing them. Maybe headbands too if I can find them. Shit. Camera. Need my camera. Charge battery. I like the freeze/flood idea too. Excellent! And I think my bro is going to have to wear tighty whiteys over his jeans. Now that I am drunk, the sillier ideas seem so much more appealing! Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
posted by Askr at 5:27 PM on April 22, 2009

Glad you like the Moustache idea ... just so you know, at ours there was a penalty for taking the fake mo off - skulling a beer. Penalty for refusing to wear it - compulsory pants off lap around the bar.

Mature? No. Responsible? No. Fun? Hell yes!
posted by Admira at 5:52 PM on April 22, 2009

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