People love a good surprise party. Before planning one, find out, in a creative way, if the person you intend to honor likes surprises. There are many ways to do this. Plan a surprise “date” and see how he/she reacts. You could also try asking about surprise gifts. Another great way is to plan a surprise weekend trip and see how the other person responds. If the response is a positive one, to any of these, then it should be “all systems go” for a surprise party.
You’ve decided to throw a party. Now, where do you begin? First, every successful surprise party needs a helper. It is almost impossible to work on a surprise party, send out invites, make arrangements, and handle replies all while living with the guest of honor. Regardless of the type of surprise party you are throwing (anniversary, birthday, or graduation), there are a lot of key ingredients that are important to remember. When you have a fairy godmother helping with every task, it is much easier.
First, pick a date. Find a day nobody will suspect, and that will enable the majority of your guests to come to the event. Remember, events tend to be more expensive on Friday and Saturday nights; weekend days are less costly. Then, decide on a venue. Call the venue far in advance, to make sure they have availability for your party, and make a reservation. Talk to the coordinator and get ideas from him/her from other parties they have hosted which may help you.
Once you have your date and your location, talk to a friend. Have him/her ask the guest of honor out to do something different on that day. This way you know the guest of honor is free, and you are able to have them arrive when you want. Next, come the invitations. Make your guest list. Limit it to a number that is comfortable for you financially, but will have enough of the “ooh” and “aah” impact you are trying to achieve.
Invitations typically go out approximately 4-6 weeks in advance of an event. This way, guests have time to reply. On your invitation, make sure it clearly says this is a surprise party. Otherwise, your guest of honor may find the invitation for the surprise party on a friend’s refrigerator, long before the event and the surprise will be blown. (Yes, this does happen frequently.) Another trick is to either set up an email account on gmail for the replies that is totally private (don’t use your regular password!), or have a friend gather and collect the responses. Doing it this way means your secret is safer longer!
Once the invitations have gone out, it is all about the cake, seating arrangements (if you are making them), floral, speech, and so forth. As the day draws closer, make sure you have a checklist of what needs to be done and when to do it. Don’t forget to bring a checkbook the day of the event. Vendors will need to be paid at the conclusion of your event. Have your guests arrive a few minutes earlier than your honoree and make a plan with them before the guest of honor arrives. Many people elect to have a cocktail hour before a surprise party and then throw the doors open to the honoree and yell “surprise!”
Regardless of how or when you have a surprise party, the fun is always in the surprise itself. We rarely envision how much goes into planning a successful party but with a little help and a lot of ingenuity, it is easy to throw a great party. Cheers to your surprises now…and in the future!