“SURPRISE” party….I hope


Whereas most parties rely on their planning to ensure success, when it comes to a surprise party, it’s the thing you can’t plan for – luck, that might be the difference between a shocked look of disbelief and happiness – and the BEST fake smile, ever!

So, if you are planing on making a surprise party any time soon, below are some simple tips that I hope will set you in good stead.

Keep Shtum!

Not easy and it’s the golden rule by which all others are measured. Don’t talk about it, don’t share, anywhere, and whilst it might be extremely difficult to have guests do the same, make it clear, obviously, that the parties success rides on it.

Caring is Sharing

Enlist the services of an accomplice. Be it for the storage of supplies, management of guest list – the help in getting the guest of honour to the party or simply to have someone manage the other guests pre surprise, it’s useful to have a little help. Pick whoever has the best poker face and smallest mouth!


Create a brand new email address and make any invite simple to understand and VERY clear when it comes to the nature of the party. ensure that responses are received in good time and that chasing for responses is not an option. Also be clear that the next time you are out as a group for dinner – you aren’t making the VIP feel left out when it is clear that none of you are available “next Saturday night!”

Dress Code

Remember, that whilst it makes sense to try and have the party play as part of the VIP’s normal day (see below) it doesn’t make sense to hold it immediately after his / her gym session, when all the want to do is come home, hit the shower and settle down to an evening of “box set and beer” (well, I guess they had earned it). That is of course, unless the dress code is “after gym”

The Diversion

This is where the accomplice comes in handy – don’t assume that everything will run smoothly. JUST as you need the guest of honour to come straight home will be the exact evening that they decide to detour via the curtain shop they had been meaning to get to for weeks. Make a plan, ensure that you know you have somewhere to be at a set time and then guide them all the way there.


Plan your / their route home and although it sounds obvious, nothing screams “SURPRISE” like all of the friends cars parked in the driveway. Have everyone park streets away and or arrive by taxi – after all, the hope would be that everyone will have a good time and travel home via this way anyway.


As referenced above, planning the party in a way that works with the guest of honours weekly routine already makes things easier. It might need a little more work, but if he / she always visits mum on a Friday night – it might be the most obvious place to hold the party.


Less is more. It would be a shame that, having got the guests to the party, having ensured everyone is parked streets away and no one has blabbed – that the big sign in the window saying “SURPRISE” gives the game away. Music, food and company are always the big party winners and so a balanced and low key decor is totally fine.


Capture the moment. It is a split second moment in time that needs to be captured and so have someone dedicated to shooting the key moments. To many flashes and there won’t be enough people concentrating on shouting “SURPRISE”. No one dedicated to taking the shots and the assumption will be that everyone else will do it.

And Finally

Most importantly, and I have said it before many times when writing – LISTEN to your “client”. For me, together with role plays and dressing up, surprises and surprise parties are totally off my list of things I enjoy. If you are thinking about planning something for a friend or loved one, and they tell you through the course of their conversations that they REALLY don’t want a party – don’t make it. I have seen a case where that advice was not taken and when the lights were turned on – not only did the birthday boy go ballistic, but he then went off in a huff for most of the remainder of the evening. To be fair, he was 11, but I am thinking that same rules apply no matter the age.

Assuming that’s not the case for you – good luck!

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