Any surprise party ideas you have in mind need careful planning, so as not to spoil the surprise.
You won’t be able to relax very much, with this type of party.
- Guests will need to be sworn to secrecy
- Venue, decor and food will need deciding without your guest of honor’s input
It’s like organizing a party in top secret.
But don’t worry. By following this page, you’ll know exactly how to keep a cool head.
And the surprise at the end will be totally worth it.
Your 10 steps to successful surprise party ideas
Step 1 – who is your surprisee/guest of honor?
Find out as much as you can about this person – their likes/dislikes, hobbies, party preferences.
What’s their personality like? Are they shy, outgoing or a mix?
Because a shy person may not enjoy a 100 people turning up. That’s not to say an outgoing person will either. So do some digging.
Also figure out if any of their hobbies can be converted into a party theme – and make sure it’s affordable to do so, as well.
- Basketball, for example, will be easier to theme than if the surprisee loves naked wrestling.
What if you discover the surprisee doesn’t like parties?
Simply adapt your surprise party ideas into something else – e.g., a surprise picnic, or a surprise dinner party, or a surprisee movie theater night.
Step 2 – decide date and time of your party
Before you set your date, find out – covertly, casually – what your surprisee is planning for their birthday.
Your surprise party ideas should take place on the week of the surprisee’s birthday, a few days before or after.
You don’t want to plan everything, only to find out they’ve double booked or are leaving town.
- Seriously, avoid learning of the surprisee’s plans after the fact! You don’t wanna go there.
Once you’ve locked in the party date, you won’t have a second to waste – since the date can’t be moved.
Step 3 – decide the venue
Ideally, the location should be accessible on the day of the party and without your surprisee knowing about it.
So avoid using the surprisee’s house, unless you can think up an excuse of why you need to be there.
Saying that, if they live with housemates, involve the housemates. But if they live alone, avoid.
- The home of another friend – it’s cheap, cheerful, and access is stress-free. How to lure your surprisee there is a dilemma for later.
- Party outdoors – think beach, the woods, a garden. Have a back-up plan for any weather changes too. Outdoors is also a nice change of scene for the surprisee.
- Book a private function room – you or the venue can supply the food/beer. Nominate one staff member to be your liaison.
Step 4 – decide your guest list and how to invite them
Go with close friends first, then work outwards. It’s not necessary to include co-workers, unless your surprisee is close to them.
The smaller your party, too, the less likely someone will blab the surprise in advance.
Invite your guests by emailing or phoning them directly. Do not use Facebook/Twitter etc to do this. There’s always the chance the surprisee will find out.
- Absolutely swear your guests to the secrecy of the party. You can make people feel bad, if they do, like publicly disgracing them. Seriously, it works.
Party plans themselves
Step 5 – decide on decorations
Ideally, you’ll have a theme, based on a surprisee’s hobby, but don’t worry if you don’t.
Whatever decorations you decide need to be portable. Use a car for any heavy stuff. Rope in friends to help you.
Step 6 – decide on food and drinks
Choose regular party food – e.g. quiches, sandwiches, pies, salads, cakes, dips and chips, beer and soda for drinks.
Make sure there’s enough food that it will all get eaten (no having to take anything home). Same goes for drinks.
- Check your venue has glasses, crockery and cutlery, otherwise you’ll need to supply these.
On the day of your surprise party ideas
Step 7 – get your decorating done at the venue
Arrive early, and finish the decor/food at least two hours before the party.
Step 8 – when should the guests arrive?
At least 30 minutes before the surprisee. Any stragglers should arrive 15-20 minutes after the surprisee, so it doesn’t look suspicious. The surprisee should arrive alone, with their lure.
- If guests are driving, ask them park a few streets away from the venue, to avoid suspicion.
Step 9 – how do you lure the surprisee to the venue?
By playing dumb. So if the venue is:
- A bar: “Mind if we stop here for a drink?" “I need to go to the bathroom, can we pop in here quickly?"
- A friend’s house: “(Name of person) wanted you to see (name of thing), he gave me his keys, can we quickly pop in?" “I left my phone at (name of person) last night, mind if we pop round so I can pick it up?"
- Outdoors, or a picnic: plan to have casual drinks or another activity nearby, so it looks natural.
Conceal your guests in the venue as well, e.g. In another room or by turning off the lights. They can reveal themselves once the surprisee arrives.
What if the lure idea doesn’t work?
Don’t worry, it’ll work. Plan it in advance, rather than on the spot. But don’t make it too rehearsed.
Step 10 – the surprisee arrives at their surprise party and…
“SURPRISE!", wolf whistling and a great party to be had by all.
Image: Marcin Wichary