How To Plan the Perfect Surprise Birthday Party

No one can be sure who the first person was to convince family and friends to wait in a darkened room for the thrill of shouting surprise at an otherwise unsuspecting birthday boy or girl – thus giving birth to the surprise party. But we all should be thankful, as this anonymous hero has given us one of the most durable and diverting types of parties.


If you think the task of planning a surprise party seems a tad too intimidating, fear not! A surprise party doesn’t go off without a hitch without proper planning. To help, we’ve compiled five tips to help anyone plan the surprise party of their dreams below. 


Start Planning Now!

With something as logistically complex as a surprise party, there is no better time to start planning than now. This is for various reasons, including the fact that venues and schedules both fill up. The best restaurants are often booked out for months at a time. You’ll also want friends and family to have plenty of time to include your party in their plans. When it comes to planning a surprise party, the details can take a while to hammer out.


Of course, there can be a lot to remember when planning a surprise party. Be careful where you leave any notes you may make, as it would be a shame if prying eyes ruined their surprise.


Distract Your Target

One notable aspect is the importance of a subtle approach toward distracting your birthday boy or girl. You’re probably going to have to lie a little. It can be helpful to enlist friends or family that are visiting from out of town for this task, as they can quickly request the target take them to an event or activity without arousing suspicion. This step is vitally important as it will allow you to have the proper amount of time for the next steps.


Get Setup

Depending on where your party takes place, someone could have already done this step. For example, if you plan to celebrate at a third location (such as a restaurant, play place, or bar), the prep work should already be done for you ahead of time. Be sure to check the terms of your rental agreement to know how you are responsible. (No one wants to throw a surprise birthday party where the surprise is that you were supposed to be the one providing the cake!)


The entire process will be much more involved if you host the party. Make sure your target is well taken care of and that you will be kept abreast of their movements. Enlist helpers to make setting up go faster. Do as much prep as you can beforehand without raising suspicion. But blowing up balloons in the living room the day of is a no-no.


Make Sure Everyone is on the Same Page

It should go without saying, but give your guests very detailed instructions. Be succinct. You want people to read everything, but make sure everyone knows WHO the party is for and that it is a SURPRISE! Feel free to call any friends or relatives you fear may miss the point. Surprise parties have been ruined by a well-intentioned text message to the target on the day of the party. Don’t let this happen to you!  


Surprises Are Hard, Make Hosting Easy on Yourself

As noted above, a quick setup is crucial for a surprise party’s success. Unfortunately, this can be tricky for aspects such as preparing and serving food, areas where hosts typically can plan and be ready ahead of time. Luckily, with a little bit of effort, these tasks can still be accomplished – in a roundabout way.


For example, you can still chop up celery and carrots for crudité ahead of time, and if anyone asks what you’re doing, say you’re making a salad. (Martha Stewart has tips on putting one together quickly for the uninitiated.) Invent little excuses for other tasks, and you’ll soon have made the arduous task of getting ready and hosting much more manageable – all without ruining the surprise!


If you’re hosting the party at your home, another trick is to employ serving methods and vessels that are easy to store out of the way when not in use – such as food boats. It is an excellent method of serving as it doesn’t draw attention to itself. Be sure to stash some disposable dinnerware out of the way and bring it out while you’re setting up. 


Enjoy the Party!

With everything else taken care of and the big “Surprise!” finally sprung, it’s time to exhale deep. Even if everything didn’t go to plan, try your best at this point to have fun! Surprise parties are unpredictable, and not everything will go according to plan. At this point, it is essential to remember that surprise parties are like gifts. It is undoubtedly the thought that counts. 


Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best

There you have it. Five tips anyone can use when planning the perfect surprise party. This type of party can be as much work as it is satisfying to pull off. You can’t plan the unpredictable, but with a little bit of work, you should be able to surprise your intended target. When you see the smile on their face, all the planning and stressing will be well worth it. Surprise!