Surprise parties are a lot of work. They require you to plan just like any other party, but with the added pressure that your guest of honor should have no idea what you and everyone involved are doing in the whole duration of you preparing for the big day. And somehow, they have to be at the party’s venue on the day itself, still without suspecting anything.
For a birthday party, a bridal shower, or whatever event you are celebrating, there are preliminary steps you must take to make sure your plan goes off without a hitch.
Before Planning the Party Itself
You need to iron out a few things before putting together the surprise party. Do a little snooping and gather this information before thinking about everything else.
1. See if a surprise party is a good idea at all.
Some people love being on the receiving end of surprises. Others, however, hate how surprise parties put the spotlight on them when they are unprepared for it. Consider the celebrant’s personality and see if they will appreciate a surprise party.
Think back on your conversations with this person. What kind of reactions do they usually have when faced with surprises? Have they mentioned their feelings about surprises at some point? You can also ask common friends to help gauge if the surprise party is a good choice.
2. Find out what kind of party they would like.
When you have confirmed that they are not the kind of person who would be opposed to surprise parties, then you do some more sleuthing. This time, you have to learn what kind of party they want to have without giving your plans away.
First use your memories with this person as a reference. This is easiest as it puts you at little to no risk of accidentally mentioning their surprise party to them in conversation. However, if that is not enough and you need to collect more information, assign someone who can act well and maintain a straight face to get answers.
One method you can try is to pretend you need feedback on a party you are planning for yourself, a friend, or even a work client. Show them the possible themes and motifs and take note of their feedback.
This is an important step because it lets you visualize what kind of setup you need and if you will need more heavy-duty equipment such as rigging chains, hooks, and the like.
3. Figure out their schedule.
Then you need to know how busy they are to lock in a window of time to surprise them. Talk to them about work and other responsibilities and even ask about possible dates for you to meet up and dine out together.
Planning the Party Discreetly
When you have successfully gathered intel, the real challenge of planning the party begins.
1. Gather your team and communicate.
It will be hard to plan this by yourself. You need a team to put the event together. However, keep it as small as possible and make sure your teammates are not talkers.
For communication, use an app different from the messaging apps you usually use to talk to the guest of honor to minimize the possibility of accidentally sending party updates to them.
2. Finalize the date, time, and venue.
Then it is time to settle the specifics of your surprise party.
If it is a birthday party, anticipate that they may already have plans for their birthday week, so do not hesitate to hold the party a couple of weeks or so earlier than their actual birthday. The earliness makes it even more of a surprise!
Hold it at an appropriate time, too. Take into account the availability of both your celebrant and invitees. Then for venues, aside from the theme of your party, check if the location is easily accessible to everyone involved to spare yourself the stress of making sure everyone arrives on time on the day of the surprise.
3. Devise a “fake” plan.
Don’t bother to send physical invitations. Send invites online and give instructions. Also, emphasize that the event is a surprise. If you have friends who struggle to keep secrets, consider just telling them on the day itself about the real plan so that your plans are not compromised.
Create a fake plan that lures your guest of honor to the venue in time for the surprise. Make sure guests are well-informed about this arrangement so that they can play along.
Surprise party planning needs you to be a little more meticulous than usual, but thorough preparation makes the reveal all the more fulfilling!