Hen Party Do’s and Don’ts

A hen party is the last hurrah for a bride to be, so it’s got to be special and revolve entirely around her. If you’ve been given the honour of organising the party, thinking of unusual hen do ideas can be tricky and whilst unusual ideas can be great, if they’re not planed properly they also have the potential to go haywire, so it’s best to keep to some simple do’s and don’ts when planning a hen party. They may all seem obvious, but can be easily forgotten!

Firstly, your good decision making must start at day one of planning, choosing activities which involve everyone, giving the chance for everyone to chat if they already know each other, or get to know each other if they don’t. Ensure that your party idea ‘matches’ your guest-list, for example if you’re inviting the mother in law to be and she’s a bit of a prude, then anything too risqué may be inappropriate, leaving both you and her feeling more than a little awkward. Remember, you can always save the crazy stuff for those who make it past bedtime and keep it a bit more civilised during dinner or drinks beforehand.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t go all out though, as long as everything is within your budgets then you can really go for it, so if dressing up is your thing, then really go mad for it! (Take a look at our top ten hen party costume ideas for some MyChocolate inspiration…) Word on the street is that the best hen parties strike a good balance between drinking/eating/doing just to make sure everyone is keeping up and having a great time. We also like the idea of having plenty of fun games and trivia ready for the evening, so at any point you can crack out a great game or fun fact or trivia about the bride. However, our big no-no tip would be not to go too far with anything, you don’t want anything to happen that might mar your memories of a great party, hilarious and embarrassing stories are great, just don’t get into anything you’re not proud of or end up in a crazy Hangover style situation, the bride may not thank you for it!

Overall, if you’re planning a hen party, it’s because you’re the bride’s best friend – and she’s rightly trusting you to put together a fantastic party. Therefore probably the easiest pitfall to fall into is making things too much about your friendship and the things you enjoy together, so it’s just a case of remembering that her other guests may know her in an entirely different capacity and not enjoy doing the things you two might do together. Yet at the front of your party planner mind should always be the fact that you’re planning a party for your best friend- and what could be more fun than that?!

Milk Chocolate Gianduja Recipe

While our last recipe, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon dark chocolate, contained an unusual spice, this week we’ve decided to steer back to a classic combination: chocolate and nuts. Hazelnuts specifically. If you agree these two are the most heavenly of combinations then you’re in for a treat with this delicious Gianduja recipe. Gianduja is a specialty that originates from the Piedmont region in the north of Italy and is essentially a mixture of ground hazelnuts and chocolate. You’d be correct in thinking it sounds extraordinarily similar to Nutella – in fact the popular spread was originally called Pasta Gianduja!

 7985034637_1abd0b56e7_b

Ingredients

300g melted milk chocolate

400g hazelnut brittle

Method

Firstly, you’ll need to grind up the nut brittle clusters into fine crumbs. The best way to do this is place them within a bag and give them a good bashing with a rolling pin. Once you have your nutty crumbs, set them aside for later.

Now place a bowl over a pan of simmering water (au bain marie) and melt two-thirds of the chocolate into it.

Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and gradually stir in the remaining solid chocolate to bring down the temperature to 32º. If you do not have a thermometer, you can test the temperature of the chocolate by dripping a drop on to your finger and quickly putting on your lip (and if you happen to taste some here for yourself who’s noticing).

When the chocolate is tempered it should feel cool as if it’s below body temperature.

Next mix 300g of the ground-up nuts into the melted milk chocolate and pour out on to a metal tray lined with greased baking paper or non-stick parchment. Leave it to harden and then break into pieces, or if you’re feeling a bit more creative you can cut the praline into shapes. Once you have your individual praline pieces, dip them in the melted milk chocolate.

For the final step, roll the chocolates in the remaining 100g of caramelised nut crumbs in order to give them an eye-catching layered effect.  All that’s left is for you to share them with your friends and family. Or you know, yourself : )

If you enjoyed making this recipe then we KNOW you will love our back catalogue. View them here, where you can see how to make all kinds of snacks from truffles to cupcakes to choc-tails!

[Images provided by Bonnibella]

Team Building Activities – How Not To Do It

Whether you love or loathe team building activities, you can see the value in getting a working team together once in a while for a little bonding time, but as many of us may have already experienced, there are some very wrong ways to go about it! The worst case scenario is that people just feel embarrassed or humiliated by an activity and therefore go away feeling not only silly, but even professionally compromised – far from having bonded with the rest of their team. This could certainly be the case with physical activities, which may not be everyone’s forte. Although these sorts of things may breed team spirit, they can also breed feelings of inadequacy if competition is high. Therefore it’s best to set the level right for all individuals, planning activities which will promote team building in a way which doesn’t compromise anyone.

No one likes to feel like they’re having ‘organised fun’ so be sure you aren’t forcing it or holding expectations of how much fun people really ‘should’ be having. However, this goes hand in hand with hosting a very well planned event that runs smoothly, great organisation and planning will help to create a relaxed mood amongst guests, rather than creating periods of flat time where nobody knows where to be or what to do – and the event planner is running around like a headless chicken, never a good look!

The event should be as part of ongoing activities rather than a one off, otherwise all the positive gains made are likely to be lost when they should have been carried over and improved upon. It’s also not best to fuel any office feuds or bring up problems specifically at a team building event – the event has potential been sparked by such an issue. However, a successful team building day should help to resolve issues or tensions naturally, interlacing the fun with the more serious challenge of solving problems as teams spend time together in a relaxed, out of work space. That’s also why activities with very high stress or competition levels may not be the best options, as they don’t allow for a situation in which a team can relax and have a little fun.

Overall, with just a little consideration of all the characters in your team, you’re unlikely to go far wrong in your planning as the whole aim is to get people thinking just a little about those around them. We run a whole range of fun chocolate making team building activities in London, ranging from luxurious chocolate cocktail making, to Apprentice-style chocolate making challenges with tasty MyChocolate prizes, all designed to get teams bonding as they work together to produce and decorate handmade chocolates.

The Ten Best Hen Party Costume Ideas

If you feel as though all Hen Party ideas have been done a million times, you may be looking for unusual hen party ideas – and that we can certainly help with. Our indulgent chocolate workshops are a great way to have fun with the girls and with a whole range of Hen Party activities on offer, including learning how to make handmade chocolates and tasty chocolate cocktails, we’re sure there’ll be something for everyone! Of course another serious consideration when it comes to a Hen Party is what to wear and if it’s fancy dress you’re going for you’ll want to pick a theme, so we’ve put together a quick top ten list of our favourite Hen Party fancy dress ideas to give you some inspiration…

  1. 80s brides: Think Madonna in ‘Like a Virgin’, white corseted lace, sheer stockings, mussed up hair and a huge dose of attitude. You’ll make for a troupe of badass looking brides with this fun look.
  2. Barbie Dolls: This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but cast your minds back to the impressive range of professions Barbie took on – we’re pretty sure ‘Scuba-Diving Barbie’ was a bestseller! It’s sure to be a fun outfit to create, especially the big hair and bug-eyed beauty makeup.
  3. Down the Decades (60s, 70s, 80s): You know the drill – get your groove on Austin Powers style, go all hippy-dippy or rock out those neon leg-warmers. There are so many ways you can go about this style, and all the crazy accessories on offer mean you can really have fun with it.
  4. Gypsy Brides: We’ve all seen the show and secretly wished to try on one of those extravagant outfits, just the once… Have fun with lashings of fake tan, colourful clothes, heavy sprinklings of diamante and huge hair.
  5. Hens: Yes, we said it, actual hens. We’re talking feathers all round and a bushy tail – a hilarious look for a gaggle of Hens. If you don’t fancy going all out, small touches like feathered head pieces and stick on beaks also make this costume an easy one to get in and out of and you can always add in the classic L plates and sashes!
  6. Pink Ladies: The classic Grease-inspired fancy dress for any group of girls. Get your pink bombers out and put in your curlers for a pretty, perky look fresh from the 50’s which will certainly stop the boys in their tracks.
  7. Vintage Style Flapper Girls: With excessive lashings of beaded spangles and sequins, fancy feathered headdresses and long strings of pearls – you won’t be able to stop your feet from dancing the Charleston!  A great fancy dress for a classy evening on the champagne.
  8. Glamorous Icons: Think Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Liz Taylor and Jackie O – big hair, bigger smiles and a whole lot of glamorous personality. We’ve all wished we were one of the above at some point in our lives – so here’s your chance to dress up like an all-time icon.
  9. Rainbow: Pick a colour, go crazy! Wigs add a great touch to a colour theme, as does crazy makeup. Accessorise with tutus and cheap and cheerful jewellery to complete your colour themed look, or even go neon for a bright twist.
  10. Disney Princesses: Pick your childhood favourite and transform into a Disney dream, from sweet Snow White to feisty Pocahontas, there’s a princess to fit any personality and complete your perfect princess party, tiaras and all.

Case Study: Building the Perfect Team Building Event

Last week, we ran a cocktail and chocolate making event for a client who was looking for a fun and unique way to treat their team. We thought it might be useful for us to provide you with a case study so that you better know how we go about hosting exciting events like this.

The Client: A well-known energy firm.

The Background: After years of outdoor activities, subject to poor weather, the client decided to host an indoor event at their office in Central London.

The Purpose: To simply give four sales teams a real treat for all their hard work. The client specifically requested a team activity which ensured that everyone could relax in each other’s company and have something to take away with them at the end of day.

eating-601578_640

MyChocolate’s Team Activity Proposal: Firstly, we decided the main focus of the workshop would be cocktail making (after all, what relaxes people better than alcohol!).

After making three unique flavoured cocktails under the guidance of trained mixologists, everyone would then be taught how to flavour and pipe rich dark chocolate truffles. This skill is relatively easy to get a grasp of after a few goes and it’s something that stays with you, so you can use it to really and truly impress friends and family for years to come! Once the chocolate truffles were completed, people would then package these handmade goodies in boxes to take away to enjoy at home or give to loved ones.

The Outcome: Unsurprisingly, the combination of cocktails and chocolate worked very well indeed!

The cocktail and chocolate making recipes were very hands on which ensured everyone got involved, worked together and learnt new skills. Just as the client requested, the event had a fun and relaxing fell to it.

Feedback from the Client:

“It was a great experience, exactly what we wanted.”

“Loved it. A great balance of chocolate, alcohol and humour. Thank you.”

“Fun. Informative. Well explained. Plenty of chocolate and booze. Couldn’t ask for more.”

“Fantastic Day. I would definitely recommend MyChocolate.”

So now you can see how we can very easily tailor events to cater for your specific objectives. We take real pride in doing this, so if you’d like to treat your colleagues to a MyChocolate event then please do get in touch! We’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and provide you with even more detail as to what we could provide you with.

 

The 6 Stages of a Hen Party

If you’re the designated party planner, then this checklist is your new best friend! MyChocolate knows how daunting planning a special event can be when you’re anxious to get it just right, so don’t stress, just check off this list of ‘must dos’:

  1. Get Chatting – many minds mean many ideas, and getting an idea of everyone’s thoughts and expectations of the party will set you up for success, as unusual hen events can be particularly fun and memorable. Obviously the party is in honour of the bride-to-be, but she’s likely to invite family and maybe old friends, so replicating the wild nights out of your youth might not be the best idea! However you’re honoured to be in such a position of trust and you do know best when it comes to the likes and loathes of your best friend.
  2. Be Proactive – it seems obvious to say, but time can really run away with you, so be sure to leave ample time for any hiccups to rectify themselves. You’ll also be sure to get exactly what you want if you’re ready to book well in advance – and of course there’ll be time to consider those all-important Hen Party themed accessories…!
  3. Budget – Set yourself a reasonable budget to work from and get an idea of what costs you’re going to incur – that way you can try to eliminate surprises. It’s probably also a good idea to let guests know what the arrangements are for footing the bill, so that everyone’s on the same page in terms of what funds are required!
  4. Don’t Stress – you’re planning fun, so have fun doing it! Get everyone involved and plan nice surprises for the bride, or get creative and compile her a photo album of all your favourite old snaps – with space for all the new ones! If you do get a little party planner anxiety, you’ll soon shake it off when you hear how stressed the bride-to-be is for her big day…
  5. Be a Stickler – whilst stressing won’t help, being a stickler for detail beforehand will help ensure everything goes smoothly and you can relax and enjoy the fantastic party you’ve so expertly planned and coordinated.
  6. Enjoy Yourself! – you’ve earned it – having planned an exciting event, it’s time to enjoy it and be happy to see everyone else doing the same. If everything’s gone to plan, so should the party, but if it doesn’t – so what, it’ll only add to the memories!

If you’re stuck for a place to start, take a look at MyChocolate’s selection of unusual Hen events, from chocolate making to fancy cupcake decorating, all topped off with cheeky ‘choc-tails’, and see if any take your fancy.

Would you make a good Hen Party planner?

We’ve seen many a Hen party here at MyChocolate and been touched by the lengths Hens go to to plan a perfect party. Whether you’re party girls or prefer nothing more than a good night in, planning a Hen do for a friend is such an exciting opportunity to show her just how much you care. The bride-to-be’s most loyal friends are probably being trusted to plan a great party, with maybe just a few surprises! In fact, these days ladies are branching out from the crazier ‘Stag’-esque nights out and looking instead to plan unique hen parties, giving Hens a better chance to do what Hens do best, chatter!

Hens are happiest in a gaggle, and without the need to prance like Stags, a girl’s Hen night is the perfect time to relax and share advice (and maybe a few embarrassing stories). Creating a good party atmosphere requires a balance of expectation and surprise, and it can be easy to get carried away in the planning process. However, a good Hen always has the bride in mind and won’t subject her to a chubby, middle-aged strip-o-gram if she knows it will really make her squirm! Yet there’s only so much one can plan, as we all know that what really makes a party are the guests; great friends make for a great time.

A Hen Party is what you make it, but a good Hen is always on task to ensure smooth running, looking after the bride after a few too many cocktails and being sure to take snaps of every special moment! A Hen’s most important job is to remind the bride they are always there for her as she takes such a momentous step in her life, and talk her through any anxiety she may be experiencing, because that’s what friends are for, right? Lasting memories and moral support are a Hen’s greatest gift to a bride-to-be, and she’ll be eternally grateful. Whilst she may be enjoying a ‘final night of freedom’, the bride-to-be will probably appreciate being told how wonderful her man is, she’s just about to enter into a huge commitment and it won’t hurt to big up her other half in anticipation of their special day, letting her know she has your full approval!

If you’re planning a Hen party and need ideas, your first thoughts may be quite traditional, but looking into other ideas may throw up some gems. Now obviously we’re a little biased, but we believe a good Hen would most definitely provide an indulgent supply of every girl’s best friend – chocolate… and our unique hen parties are packed full of it! From chocolate making to cocktail shaking, what better way to bond than over a classy ‘choc-tail’? Watch out gents, here come the Hens!

The Members You Find in Every Team Building Activity

Here at MyChocolate, we’ve seen our fair share of team building workshops, so this week we thought we’d share some of the characters that regularly pop up. Now we all know every team has its cheerleaders and those who prefer to boo from the side lines, so when it comes to an office team building activity there are bound to be some who dread the thought of organised fun with a group of people they studiously avoid all week, but what are the true personalities that make up every team – and which one are you…?

The Enthusiastic One – No words can describe this team member’s undying dedication to everything ‘team’. The first one there, the last one to leave and the only one to enjoy every single minute (and they probably made up the ridiculous team name!) Yet this is the one person who gets everyone through with their cheerleader-style encouragement, remembering you are on their team is the key to accepting this team member and overcoming your strong desire to throw things at them when things get tiring and they’re still chirping “come on GUYS we can DO this!”

The Sulker – Or the direct opponent of Mr Enthusiastic. Far too cool, and close to physically disgusted by communal team building activities. This team member will make the most disdainful comments about what you’re supposed to be doing as opposed to what they could be doing right now. They probably also have a sidekick, or some sort of BFF, there to support them in their time of endless complaining and sulky looks. Expect to find the pair leaning on well, anything, and attempting to outdo each other’s contempt. The Sulker may be no more useful than a hungover sloth, but make them feel needed and they’re bound to perk up – all that’s required is to convince them that they really are the cool guy, even if this requires a slight bending of the truth…

The Joker – This one can make anything a joke. Literally anything. The problem is that not all jokes are funny – and have you ever actually seen this person do something productive? As a team member, you’ll find the Joker directly behind your Enthusiastic leader, doing sarcastic impressions of each and every excited schoolgirl shriek and encouraging grin. Don’t underestimate the power of the Joker though, you’ll need them when something goes wrong, their witty one-liner will definitely rescue morale quicker than a stiff gin and tonic and you’ll feel a renewed sense of love for their goofy, grinning face.

The Slave-Driver – Most likely to say “DROP AND GIVE ME 20!!” well maybe not, but they could definitely be mistaken for being an army major and despite your grumblings that it’s only a team building activity, will crack the whip at anyone visibly drooping or not paying full, undivided attention. Over prepared for any eventuality, following a full kit inventory, expect to stand in line and salute! The Slave-Driver will definitely compete with the Enthusiastic one for rule of the roost, but this will be a battle the Enthusiastic leader doesn’t even know they’re a part of (they’re just SO happy to be there). Then again, when strict precision pays off and the results are fabulous, you’ll be so pleased you’ll be saluting the Slave-Driver with a well-deserved “Yes Sir!”

Looking for a team building activity that’s a little outside the norm? Look no further than one of our chocolate workshops! Let’s just hope the group isn’t overburdened with Sulkers and Slave-Drivers!

MyChocolate’s Ginger, Cardamom and Cinnamon Dark Chocolate Recipe

Are you looking for a treat? Why not follow MyChocolate’s recipe to making your own delicious, velvety ginger, cardamom and cinnamon flavour dark chocolate. This is some truly fragrant and elegant choc that is guaranteed to wow your friends and family and the biggest secret of all … it’s so simple!

Speculaaskruiden

Ingredients

375g dark chocolate

13 drops of ginger cooking essential oil

½ teaspoon of grounded cardamom

1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder.

Method

Firstly melt down dark chocolate on a low heat. This is best done using a bain marie, as to not scold the sugar in the chocolate.

 

Temper the chocolate at 30 degrees centigrade. To temper the chocolate it must be heated and cooled, to 30 degrees and then left to cool until crystals begin to form and then reheated again to 30 degrees. Tempering is what gives chocolate it’s luxurious shiny finish and it’s satisfying snap.
Now add the ginger cooking oil, the cinnamon powder and the ground cardamom.
Cover the table with parchment paper and pour the melted chocolate onto it, creating a lovely slab, now spread the chocolate out evenly with a spatula, trying to cover most of the parchment paper.
Now leave it to set at room temperature until it is hard and brittle, this may take around 2 hours.
Lastly, break it into small pieces and enjoy! We assure you will …
One of our favourite games at MyChocolate is to keep our friends guessing the ingredients we’ve used, when we have them over for dinner! Especially if we’ve made a couple of different things, so why not check out our MyChocolate recipes to give you some more delicious inspiration. Also keep an eye on it for even more great and very unique recipes coming up really soon!

[Images provided by FotoosVanRobin from Netherland ]

Why is a hen party called a hen party (and a stag do a stag do)?

Nowadays it would be pretty unheard of to get married and not have a hen party or stag do in order to celebrate the final free moments before you tie the knot. Consequently we’ve heard of some pretty unusual hen party events along the way from perfume creation to go kart racing! But why is it called a hen party and why is it called a stag party? And where did these parties originate from?

Okay, so here’s the history lesson. A common misconception is that the terms ‘hen’ and ‘stag’ both originate from simple social stereotypes. In fact, it’s more likely that the word hen hasn’t always meant female chicken, in middle English, hen could mean the female of any bird and so a hen party was a party exclusively for ladies. Similarly, but going back even further, is the stag party, and you’ve guessed it, originally stag could mean the male of any animals, not just a male deer and so a stag party is one exclusively for gents.

So it turns out hen party’s aren’t a creation of modern society and they actually go pretty far back. Although I bet they didn’t have such unusual hen party events all that time ago…skydiving hens anyone? So where did the terms actually originate from? The tradition of the stag party, goes back even further (sorry Hens) certainly as far as tudor times. Just imagine how busy Henry VIII must have been with invites!

Numerous sources suggest that the very first stag party was actually held in the 5th century in Sparta, where a pre-marriage feast was held in order to toast the the groom-to-be.  On the other hand, hen celebrations have their roots more grounded in North African, Middle Eastern and Asian lifestyle. This is because the authentic phrase from which hens get together is believed to be henna, which is a wedding custom in all these cultures. Henna has significant importance in the East and is considered to have tendencies to be capable of purifying the bride and hold her risk-free from evil.

Here in the UK, we are somewhat on our own with our abstract names of hen and stag parties to see off the final moments of freedom. Australia is similar, but slight cultural differences mean that they call it hen party and buck party. Alternatively, America appear to be very vanilla in the naming of their pre-marital parties calling them a bachelorette party and a stag party respectively.

Whatever your background, there is no escaping the fact that marriage is possibly the most important decision of your life. So what better way to say goodbye to single life than to celebrate in style! Everyone knows that chocolate and hens go hand in hand, so if you’re after an unusual hen party event why not try your hand at one of our chocolate workshops?