Let’s face it: bachelorette parties can be pretty lame. From the penis straws and cheap veil the bride-to-be dons, to the throngs of drunk, squealing girls clogging trendy barroom doorways, I’ve always been turned off by the typical modern-day bachelorette party. And since I got engaged a few months ago, I assumed it was a tradition I’d happily avoid. After all, the majority of my closest friends live in Chicago where I lived before moving to New York to be with my long-distance boyfriend. I didn’t expect them to come all the way here to party it up with me when they’re already coming in for the wedding. And while I’ve made some new friends here, I don’t yet have the kind of “tribe” I had in Chicago — not yet, anyway. So as my fiance’s been planning a bachelor party, I’ve been resigned to not having anything at all. But then I went to Chicago for the weekend to visit friends and escape the stress of wedding planning for a few days (the big day’s just five weeks away!) and while I was there my friends threw me a surprise bachelorette party. Turns out those things don’t have to be so lame after all! Everyone gathered along the Chicago lakefront, one of my favorite places ever, where we spent the whole afternoon eating great food, drinking champagne and vodka lemonade, enjoying each other’s company, and celebrating my transition into a new chapter of life — all without a single penis product. It was the perfect way to make me feel loved and supported, which is the whole point of a bachelorette party, isn’t it? In an effort to save other brides-to-be the indignity of a cheesy affair, what are some of your favorite bachelorette party ideas?