How to Plan the Perfect Surprise Party

See also: Organising Skills

Surprise parties are a thrilling and fun time for everyone involved. The rush of planning a surprise party has so many elements since you are constantly tiptoeing around the person it is for, and making sure everyone keeps it a secret. When you pull off the perfect surprise party, the feelings of accomplishment will enhance the celebration.

This is how to plan the perfect surprise party.

1. Plan for the Guest of Honor

When you plan the party for the guest of honor, it makes the surprise even better. It is important to make sure you base it on their personalized likes and that they enjoy being the center of attention when considering a surprise party. More introverted people may give you a different reaction than you expect from the party.

Keep some things in mind as you start the planning process.

  • Number of guests. Depending on the kind of party you are going for. Figure out if it is going to be a small gathering or a larger one where you extend the invite to coworkers and acquaintances. The number of people you invite impacts the location, budget, food and entertainment.

  • Budget. The cost will vary depending on if you get a venue, how many people are coming, food, gifts and more. You should set all of your decisions based on your budget.

  • Theme and Activities. This is where your relationship and knowledge with the guest of honor come into play. Think about their interests and hobbies, or if they would enjoy a formal dressy or a more casual event. It will look different for everyone.

There is a lot to take on when you are planning a surprise party. You might want to ask for someone to help you with all the details. Teamwork is a great skill to have when planning an event like this. It is hard to juggle everything independently, so taking responsibility for some tasks and collaborating with others can make the planner go smoothly. Stay in touch with people so that you communicate consistently on important details to make the day successful.

2. Set a Date

It might seem like common sense to set the party on their birthday, but you may want to reconsider a different day to improve the surprise. It is best to choose a date before or after their birthday.

You will want to consider the guest of honors best day and what seems to be working best for guests. See what day works best for friends and family members who should be at the event. You should also find a sneaky way to make sure the guest of honor will be available on the day the part is planned. Try asking people close to them if they have plans for that day or you or a mutual friend could ask to do something with them so nothing gets in the way.

Setting a date for this event takes extreme time management skills. You will need to be able to plan and organize the perfect date to ensure that most guests and your guest of honor can attend. It is most important to ensure that the guest of honor can go but you will want to make sure most of their loved ones will be able to attend as well.

This can be difficult since you will need to reach out to many people while prioritizing the schedule of the main guest. If you work well in stressful situations like this, you should be able to come up with a date after some work. 

3. Inviting the Guests

You can invite everyone to the party when you decide on a date and location. You can send printed invitations or make secret group messages on social media to do your best to hide them from the guest of honor.

When sending out the invitations, ensure you include everything necessary for people to get there successfully. First, you will want to clarify that it is a surprise and should be kept secret at all costs. Then put down the date, time, location, RSVP and instructions for how everything will work out.

You might have to dig to find all the guests you need to invite. This will require you to have interpersonal skills for reaching out to people you might not normally talk to and finding connections to invite the necessary people. Relying on teamwork to network through everyone will help get the word out to everyone. Some skills you will need to have is patience and flexibility when waiting to hear back from everyone and making arrangements for people that might have conflicting schedules.

The RSVP is crucial since it gives you an accurate count for food, drinks and activities. In the invitation or after receiving the number of people coming, provide additional information about themes, dress code, gifts, where to park and anything else necessary.

4. Food, Drinks and Activities

Planning a menu will help you stay organized and plan ahead. You will want to choose recipes with minimal ingredients so it requires less prepping and reduces the chance of disasters. If you aren’t looking to have all the food prep on you, try to plan catering or ask your guests to bring dishes with them. This will take a lot of planning to ensure everyone brings the right foods or you order enough if you are catering. You wouldn’t want everyone to show up with desserts or run out of food for your guests.

It is also essential to have party decorations to match your theme. Typically you will want to spend the least amount of money on decorations, especially if you are in a small space for the party. Include the classics like balloons, banners or something unique and personalized like a cake. Remember to have everything you need when planning your activities. Whether it is games or crafts, be prepared with each element involved.

5. Getting Your Guest of Honor There

Now that the day has arrived, it is time to get them to the party. You should ensure you give your guest plenty of time to arrive before you two head out the door. Plan to get there at least 30 minutes to an hour before your guests are due to arrive.

You or a friend can make plans with them for the day of the party, so there is a reason to be together. Ideally, you will want a friend to do it since you want to already be at the location. Be sure that whatever this friend tells them they are doing matches the theme or dress code of the party.

If you are working with other friends to arrive smoothly, make sure the back story is clear. Your time management and communication skills will come back into play here. Talk to everyone who helped put together the party and ensure everything is going to plan. To make a perfect surprise, have all the stories straight and a plan to get them there at the right moment. You wouldn’t want a messy cover story to ruin the surprise.

Enjoy the Surprise Party

When everything is done, it is your time to sit back and relax while enjoying the party. All the hard work and dedication will pay off after seeing how happy the guest of honor is at the party. Follow these steps to make sure everything is planned accordingly and successfully.

About the Author

Ava Roman (she/her) is the Managing Editor of Revivalist, a women’s lifestyle magazine that empowers women to live their most authentic life. When Ava is not writing you'll find her in a yoga class, advocating for body positivity, whipping up something delicious in the kitchen, or smashing the patriarchy.