One of my oldest and best friends is getting married in September this year and earlier this month was her hen do, which I spent the past couple of months organising and coordinating. The bride-to-be, Kellie, wanted a relaxed, non-boozy hen do where everyone would be able to have fun playing games, eating lots of sweet treats and generally chilling. She was pretty keen for a bohemian picnic in the park, so that’s what we set out to deliver. The other bridesmaids and I wanted to send her off in real style so we devised the ultimate handmade hen do, which was too pretty not to share. I hope you like getting an inside look into my non-rag rug related life 🙂
The Ultimate Handmade Hen Do:
I was incredibly chuffed by how pretty the final picnic turned out. We set it up in Clarence Park in St. Albans and were lucky enough to have absolutely ideal weather on the day.
What would a hen do be without the traditional “Wedding Dress Game”.
Behind the Scenes:
Rag Rug Napkin Rings:
I really wanted to sneak in at least some rag rug creations into the hen do, so I decided that cute flowers would be the way forward. I started out by rag rugging a set of 16 flowers in a mix of blues and pinks. The flowers had short loopy rag rugging in the centres and shaped shaggy rag rugging around the outside. I varied the sizes and shapes to keep from getting bored 🙂
Once the flowers were all rag rugged, I cut them out of the hessian, glue gunned ribbon to the backs of the hessian and covered all my workings with a circle of the same white velour I’d used to loopy rag rug the centres. I then tied them around the napkins, knives, forks and spoons for the picnic. They looked like this in the end…
That was it by way of rag rug creations for the hen do, but it just goes to show that you can inject a bit of craft into any event.
Elderflower Cordial and Pink Lemonade:
Homemade Elderflower Cordial:
I’m certainly no baker, so I kept well away from any of the tasty treat prep, but one thing that I can make well is elderflower cordial. I decided that cute jam jars of elderflower cordial would make particularly good hen do favours, so this is how I made them.
Firstly, I rooted around for my mum’s ancient elderflower cordial recipe. It has had splashes of elderflower cordial spilt over it over the years and my mum has pretty terrible handwriting so I’ve provided a translation below…
- 3 pints of cooled boiled water
- 3.5 lbs of granulated sugar
- 2 oz of tartaric or citric acid
- 3 lemons (sliced)
- 1 orange (sliced)
- 20 heads of elderflower (set these aside for a minimum of half an hour for any creepy crawlies to escape.)
You will also need:
- A big bowl
- Muslin cloth (for straining)
- Large jug
- Bottles / jars to decant the cordial into
- Dissolve the granulated sugar and tartaric / citric acid in the cooled boiled water by stirring well.
- Place the elderflower heads into the bowl along with the lemon and orange slices. The lemon and orange slices help to keep the elderflower heads submerged for best flavour.
- Stir the concoction and mash the lemons and orange up a bit to release the flavours.
- Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave overnight for the flavours to get to know each other.
- In the morning, sterilise your glass jars or bottles either in the oven, with boiling water or in the dishwasher.
- Stir your elderflower cordial mixture to make sure that any sugar that has settled overnight is dissolved once again.
- Using a muslin cloth, strain the cordial mixture into a large pouring jug. Make sure to squeeze the lemons and oranges so you get a good amount of the juice.
- Pour the cordial into the bottles and jars.
Storage and Enjoyment:
Our homemade elderflower cordial will last two months in the fridge, but I recommend freezing some in plastic bottles so you can enjoy homemade elderflower cordial throughout the year. We generally serve the cordial with sparkling water for a refreshing summer drink, but at the hen do we made Hugo cocktails by mixing it with prosecco and soda water, and serving with mint.
Unfortunately, elderflower season is over now, but there’s always next year. Elderflowers can be found all over the UK (sometimes in the most unexpected places) in May / June. If you join us for a rag rug workshop at our Ragged Life Hertfordshire HQ this summer then you can enjoy some of my homemade elderflower cordial 🙂
Homemade Pink Lemonade:
I’m not a pink lemonade expert (in fact, I don’t think I’d ever had it before), but Kellie mentioned that she liked it it so Isa and I made a batch the night before the hen do (yes, we ended up going to bed pretty late!). This involved Isa peeling and squeezing 16 lemons, which started to dissolve her skin away, but it was all worth it as the pink lemonade tasted absolutely delicious. This is the recipe we used although we did double quantity and used frozen raspberries rather than fresh.
Handmade flower crowns:
The night before the hen do, my friend Isa came over for various last minute handmade hen do activities. Isa is one of the few people who has known Kellie as long as I have (we all went to primary school together), so it was an absolute riot catching up. Isa is super creative and arty, so she filled in the creative blanks. We spent a couple of hours the night before the hen do making ten flower crowns out of wire, floristry tape and gypsophila (Isa had already made a few out of dried flowers in Portugal where she’s currently living). Here are a few of the behind the scenes photos:
When Isa arrived, she had already created the hoops for the flower crowns out of wire covered in floristry tape:
We then sat outside and gradually taped small pieces of gypsophila to the wire hoops by winding the floristry tape diagonally around the rings. Once we finished the flower crowns, we gave them a little spritz with water then hung them up to dry slightly in the larder.
The only flower crown that we left until later was Kellie’s Bride-to-be crown. We wanted Kellie’s crown to stand out from the crowd with cottage roses but we were worried that the roses would drop all their petals overnight. We therefore finished that one off first thing in the morning. This is what it looked like…
As I mentioned, Isa is super arty so we put her in charge of illustrating some of the activities on the day. She knocked up these gorgeous cards for every time we needed to pick teams:
One of the other bridesmaids, Claire, made a super awesome quiz for the day, which Isa illustrated the answer sheets for…
The Instax Board:
I really wanted to make use of Kellie’s Instax camera (like a Polaroid) at the hen do, so I created a board where everyone had to replace the cards in the frame with photos. It was so much fun tracking everyone down to take the photos and they got more and more ridiculous as the day went on (these ones at the beginning were pretty tame).
I made the Instax board by getting an old frame, painting it blue and mounting foam board inside. I then taped twine across the board and used little pegs to clip the cards to.
Even the cards themselves were personalised for Kellie. The tops were cut out of a vintage German grammar book as Kellie’s fiancé is German. I then stuck them to pieces of same size card.
This is what the board looked like on the day:
Kellie later put the photos into a gorgeous personalised hen do book that we’d written our best wishes in on the day. We bought this gorgeous hen do book here.
The fabulous marbled cake in the centre of our picnic was made by Helena from Neighbourhood Bakes, a local Hertfordshire / London cake company. Helena and I actually used to play sport against each when we were at school and I’ve been following how her business has been going from strength to strength on Instagram ever since. It’s always nice to be able to support small businesses, particularly ones as talented as the team at Neighbourhood Bakes.
I really wanted the hen do to feel like a small festival, so I brought along some biodegradable glitter. Not only was it so much fun putting it on, but it also looked so cute!
A Few Hilarious Hen Do Fails:
When we were packing the van the morning of the hen do, I didn’t realise quite how much stuff needed to be transported and how much of it was fragile. This meant that we were a little bit squidged to say the least. We were soooo cramped in fact that Isa had to ride with the vases of flowers in a tray on her lap, the cake wedged carefully between her legs and an R2D2 cool box strapped into the seat next to her. When we stopped for petrol, we did have a giggle about how ridiculous we looked! It was even funnier when the water from the flowers sloshed all over the place when I braked a bit too suddenly… ooops!
Isa and I were in such a rush in the morning to make sure that everything was set up in time for the hen do that we didn’t put any make up on and Isa wasn’t even dressed in her gladrags when we set off. The park’s public toilet was pretty dire and didn’t even have a mirror inside so Isa and I ended up doing our make up by leaning out of the van’s windows and using the wing mirrors. It all turned out fine in the end, but I did accidentally give Isa some of my make up that was far too light for her so she did look like a ghost for a while. All’s well that ends well though as we both looked nice in the photos…
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So, that was the first (and possibly last) hen do I will ever organise. I hope you found it interesting to see what we got up to and if you’d like to be the first to hear about what other hairbrained things we’ve been up to, why not join our Rag Rug Community on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/RagRugCommunity/ or join our fortnightly newsletter here.
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As always, happy rag rugging!