The bachelor party, like man himself, has crawled out from the primordial ooze into the bright light of civilization. Taking the crowd to a strip club is no longer automatic; in fact, it's no longer even the norm. A bachelor fete today is as likely to involve paintballs as pasties, as likely to end up on a basketball court as in night court. There's no shortage of creative options, but since your friends probably aren't organized enough to discover them, here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Instead of putting fruit in your drink and wrestling in the mud, put fruit on your eyes and bathe in the mud at a spa party. As the hot springs boil, your heads (and pores) clear and you can all speak freely the eternal truths of manhood. World-famous Canyon Ranch has sites in Tucson and Lenox, MA, for weekend stays, as well as a day spa at The Venetian in Las Vegas, where you can choose from a menu of services like Abhyanga and Shirodhara, which may very well be the same thing. Bonus: You can get a fantastic massage without having to worry about the vice squad breaking it up.
Say It With Song
Make your bachelor party sing. Have your best man ask every guest to rewrite a pop song, TV theme, or jingle, adding lyrics based on your years together. Reserve the back room of a steak house, let the scotch pour, turn on the camcorder, and just sing, sing a song. Bonus: You can play the embarrassing footage of your best man's drunken warbling at his own bachelor party.
Everyone says the bachelor party's about you. But it may really be about the people who'll be most affected by your marriage—your closest friends. Ease their fear of abandonment by stretching out your bachelor party over several weekends and scheduling one-on-one outings with each of your closest companions, doing what they love best, be it camping, drinking, or…drinking. Bonus: All those days out with the guys can keep you away from the house while your bride and her mother choose tablecloths for the reception.
It's a Slam Dunk
All those years of playing pickup ball on pothole-riddled street courts, you've been telling your boys that you'd dominate if only you played on a real court. Now's your chance. Pro-level gyms like Chicago's Lakeshore Athletic Center (where Michael Jordan has been known to drop in for a pickup game) will rent a court to your group, for a price—up to $300 per hour, depending on when you need it. Lakeshore even has a rooftop party area where you can drown your sorrows when Michael doesn't show. Bonus: When it's your party, no one would dare call you a hog for taking every open shot.
Fields of Dreams
Plan a long weekend road trip that strings together games at as many major-league ballparks as you can reach. Try the Toronto-Detroit-Chicago-Milwaukee axis, or roll from Boston to New York to Philadelphia and Baltimore. Most parks rent luxury sky suites to party groups, though the price can be steep. Bonus: the home team wishing you well on the scoreboard between innings. How can you beat that?
Bring Elvis to the Building
If the goal of the bachelor party is to make the groom the center of attention, there's no better way to do it than to put him in an Elvis costume and stroll him down the Las Vegas strip. Dave Hoagland's friends took a bachelor-party road trip to Sin City and furnished him, on arrival, with a full-on Elvis getup: the wig, the white jumpsuit, the gold necklace, even the gold boots. "As we made our way out onto the Strip, I felt what it was like to be a celebrity," says Hoagland, 35, of Palo Alto, CA. The King is back! Marry me, Elvis! Elvis has entered the building! After about 15 minutes, I was glad I would not be a celebrity in the morning." Bonus: for Hoagland, riding the mechanical bull at The Frontier as the King.
Paddle and Battle
Once upon a time, a camping trip was simple: ride to the country, start a fire, sleep. Then came the pseudo-battle phenomenon known as paintball. At the 250-acre Kittatinny Canoes campground on the Delaware River, in Barryville, NY, the staff sets the mood by hauling players a mile up to the top of a mountain in an Army-surplus troop transport vehicle. Kittatinny also offers kayaking and white-water rafting, and you can do it all in one weekend with the Paddle and Battle special. "Every year we see more and more bachelor parties," says owner Ruth Jones. "What happened to all the go-go girls?" Bonus: As you work in unison to navigate the raging river, you finally realize the glory of male camaraderie, just in time to give it up forever.
Playing cards on folding chairs in your basement has a certain charm, but for your bachelor party, do it right: Rent a hotel suite, lease a proper casino-style poker table from a gaming supply company, and hire a bartender for the evening. As room service keeps the crudités coming, you can savor your drink and think I went to all this trouble and I still can't draw an inside straight? Bonus: At the end of a bachelor-night poker game, some groups have been known to give the entire kitty to the groom as a gift.
Bachelor parties are nights for reminiscing, looking back on your rowdy or romantic days gone by. You and your best friends could construct an evening tour of all your old haunts—the playground where you used to play Wiffle ball, the bar where you first got served, even the make-out point where you…first got served. Take along a case of that cheap, watered-down beer you used to drink to complete the experience. Bonus: Hiring a van and driver for evenings built around drinking is never a bad idea.