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Throwing a Surprise Birthday Party

Most everyone loves that time of year when their birthday rolls around, eager to celebrate this auspicious occasion with family and friends. There are lots of ways to mark this special day – head out to a restaurant for a favorite meal, take the day off and spend it with your spouse or BFF, take a mini vacation, or throw a party for 50 of your closest friends. No matter which birthday it might be, it’s fun to share it with others.

But how about a surprise party? Surprises add an extra element of fun to the birthday celebration and are ideal for those really special birthdays, such as the decade years – 30, 40, 50, etc. – when you want to be sure to make a big deal out of this occasion. And the nicest thing about surprise parties is…well…the surprise! If you plan correctly, your guest of honor won’t suspect a thing and will be extra delighted when everyone pops out to yell “surprise” as he or she enters the room. It’s a treat that everyone should experience at least once in their life!

Planning the Surprise

Once you’ve decided on a surprise party, the most obvious thing you’ll need to do is keep the surprise to yourself and perhaps a few close friends. Begin by thinking about whom you’re going to invite and who you can trust to keep the secret. You’ll also need to select someone who can bring the guest of honor to the party at the appointed time, so that person will need to be in on the secret as well. This could be a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, sister, parent, or anyone you think can control the actions of the guest without giving away the surprise. Your partner-in-crime should also be sure that the birthday person is dressed properly for the event planned, be it casual or formal.

Next, it’s time for the invitations. You can find plenty of pre-printed ones that say “It’s a Surprise Party” or you can print your own clever creations. Remember, however, you must let everyone know that it’s a surprise. It’s best to mail these to everyone’s home address, especially if you work with the guest of honor. This way, there’s no chance that he or she will spy the invitation on someone’s desk. Also ask that the RSVP go to a private email address (this is the best option) or to a phone number where the honoree is not likely to overhear the conversation.

Be sure, however, that the person for whom you’re planning the party will enjoy this sort of event. Some people don’t like being the center of attention or simply don’t enjoy being surprised, and while a surprise party seems like a fun idea to you, he or she might be better served by a pre-planned small get-together of close friends.

The Day of the Party

You’ve held your breath for a few weeks and managed to get to party day without the guest of honor knowing about her birthday soiree. So now it’s party time and your guests will be arriving before you know it.

Remember, however, that you still need to maintain the secret for just a little longer. You’ll want to have your guests arrive at least 30 minutes before the birthday boy or girl is scheduled to walk through your door. That will give everyone time to get situated, grab a drink or a bite to eat, and be ready to yell “surprise” when the guest of honor arrives.
You’ll need to instruct guests (at least those with familiar cars) to park away from the party location. Give them suggestions when you send out the invitations so they’re not circling the vicinity looking for a place to park. Perhaps a nearby shopping center or other public parking area might be appropriate.

Once your guests are inside, you’ll need to continue to hide them. If they’ll be gathering in a living room or other location near a window, keep them away from the window lest you give away the secret. Even with drawn curtains, it’s still possible to see shadows that are backlit by the lighting in the room. So, it’s best to escort them to another location just before the birthday person arrives.