Party Like It’s …

Six ideas for an exceptional celebration

While the words “bachelorette party” might conjure up images of big go-cups on Bourbon Street, there are endless alternatives to a romp around the quarter. You have put so much thought into your wedding, pored over every detail and ensured it’s a culmination of your personalities; don’t let the days leading up to the big event feel like an afterthought. Whether you stick to a traditional activity, such as a bridal tea, or opt for something more adventurous, such as an all-girls indoor rock-climbing session, there are unlimited possibilities that can reflect your hobbies and interests. A party thrown for your bridesmaids doesn’t have to be a big, formal affair, especially if the women have never met. Fun icebreakers can include wine tastings, spa parties and even cooking classes. There are countless activities that you can partake in with your friends to not only introduce strangers but also to thank everyone for being a part of the most important day in your life.

Scavenger Hunt
If your out-of-town guests are feeling adventurous, an interesting and entertaining way to show them the city is a scavenger hunt. While you could spend the time thumbing through guide books or even an old history textbook to write your own, an easier and more fun way is through a new phone app called ”New Orleans:

The Game from Stray Boots” ((877) 787-2929, StrayBoots.com). The game takes your guests through a fun, interactive history lesson that lets them become familiar with the city at their own paces. Choose either the French Quarter or the Garden District, and depending on the size of the party everyone can either work together or stagger their starts and play as a competition. The hunt includes funny photo challenges and text clues, and players must explore the chosen area to complete the challenges and earn points. Players with smartphones can play the game via their mobile browsers or opt for text message clues instead. Purchasing is easy; either contact Stray Boots Scavenger Hunts or just go through their website. At only $12 per ticket for up to 6 people this is a fun, inexpensive way to get together with the girls.

Jewelry Social
Dominique Giordano (5420 Magazine St., 895-3909, DGiordano.com) regularly offers jewelry socials as a great way to get together and each guest gets a beautiful reminder of the event afterward. Guests make their own pendant necklace, which puts an interactive twist on giving jewelry as gifts for the bridal party.

The Caviar Heart is the most popular pendant for bridal parties, filled with freshwater pearls in the front. The back of the heart opens as a locket, where a photo or other memento of your big day can reside. Quotes can even be added to the back of the pendant for an additional $10 and bridesmaids can wear their own handmade creations in the wedding for an extra personal touch. Jewelry Socials can be easily booked through the website by clicking on “jewelry social” on the top bar. Once the host chooses her date from the calendar, an e-mail is sent to Giordano and she approves the date and creates an invitation to e-mail guests.

Jewelry socials are intimate parties, with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 16 people for each event. The hostess receives 50 percent off her pendant and a coupon good for 50 percent off an additional piece of Dominique Giordano jewelry valued at $500 or less. Each participant receives a 20-percent-off coupon for a future purchase as well. Make your event extra special by bringing your own food and wine or champagne, and Giordano will supply everything you need from flatware and plates to ice, sparkling water and even a wine opener.

Painting Party
Another clever way of taking home a handmade party favor is hosting a painting party at New Orleans Paint N Party (101 River Road, Suite 201, 833-1070, NewOrleansPaintNParty.com). Each guest plays artist with their own canvas and an experienced instructor will help guide you through your own artwork, whether you select an image beforehand or go with one of their offerings. If you have a favorite flower used in your wedding, for example, it could make for a fun, artsy keepsake. Instructors pre-select paintings that are easy and fun, so you won’t have to stress about whether it’s too hard to finish. Wine and food can be brought in to make the night even more memorable and they supply everything you need, from the ice buckets and napkins to the paintbrushes, aprons and, of course, canvases and paint.

Tea and Gardening
Bridal teas at Longue Vue House and Gardens (7 Bamboo Road, 488-5488, LongueVue.com) are a lovely way to catch up with old friends and introduce bridal party members to one another, but they certainly aren’t the only option. The historic home tour makes for an afternoon well spent, and Longue Vue’s impressive gardens make the perfect setting for a little domesticity – but don’t worry, this is the fun kind. Head gardener Amy Graham teaches a variety of classes, including viewings of archived images of potted plant displays to help you get inspired to create your own interesting and useful container plantings, with a garden tour included. Is the bride-to-be a theater buff? “Shakespeare and the Garden” is a workshop that focuses on the bard’s favorite plants. Is she more interested in freshly cut flowers arranged in creative ways? In the “Beyond the Vase” series, guests are encouraged to bring vase alternatives to fill with cuttings from the yard, suitable for beginning gardeners and green thumbs alike. There is also a workshop to teach wreath making, which would make a lovely decoration at the wedding itself.

Swamp Tour
If you’re looking for a more adventurous outdoors activity, then swamp tours are it. Sharing a scenic ride and the expression on someone’s face when they encounter an alligator for the first time is priceless. Cajun Encounters ((866) 92-TOURS (86877), CajunEncounters.com) has custom-created 10 passenger boats, perfect for your own private tour. You will be able to experience the swamp at your own pace instead of having a large group dictating how much time is spent watching egrets take off. Get some one-on-one time with the tour boat captain for a personalized Q & A on the Honey Island Swamp, a must for out-of-town guests. Packages include transportation, cocktails and a truly custom tour. You can pick the time of day and the route and can even have a pizza waiting for you on the dock when you come back – perfect for a morning out with the girls or an evening of winding down.

Viewing Party
In this digital age where all of life’s important moments are shared through the Internet, having a photo-viewing party can be a wonderful way to experience the big day all over again with a group of close friends and family members. Looking at captured moments from your big day sitting at your home computer by yourself can feel pretty anticlimactic, so wedding photographer CheyAnne Bradfield (715-9510, artedevie.com) provides an Image Release Party at her studio. It is a great way to relive your wedding experience, and Bradfield provides you with a 120-inch projector screen and DJs the music herself. It is a perfect activity for parents, siblings or even the bridal party with wine and hors d’oeuvres served. “It turns into a great reward for us because we love getting to see the excitement and hear them tell stories to each other about the day as they view the photos,” says Bradfield. “I’ve had our couples or the mothers almost bring me to tears on more than one occasion with their joy and gratitude. And for us, that’s what it’s ultimately all about.”

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