What’s more fun than a surprise party? Two years ago I put one together for my mom whose birthday is June 25th. It wasn’t easy to keep it all under wraps and in the end she suspected there would be some kind of gathering for her. Still it was fun! Party planning period can be stressful but if you’re trying to surprise someone this rings even more true! Here are some things that helped me pull off her party successfully.
You can’t do it alone. Honey I tried! Coming up with a menu, cooking it all, invitations, getting the cake, reserving a location and countless other tasks. The to do list is extensive (even more so when you’re a perfectionist like me) and doing it by yourself will definitely burn you out. One word – delegate! Also, accept whatever help people offer. One of my friends was serving overseas during the party planning but he still transferred money that helped significantly. A lady from my church offered to help with the security deposit for the location. My uncle paid for the cake. Besides that, you’ll need a place to stash everything. If you’re blessed enough to have people that want to help, let them.
Remember it’s not about you. I’m not in love with red but it’s my mother’s favorite color so I included it in the theme. A simple sheet cake would’ve save me over $100 but you know what, she loves Wonder Woman so I wanted a special cake for her. I’m into Pop music but my mom loves R&B so that’s what the music playlist had! I didn’t invite a bunch of my friends I invited people that my mom likes. Keep at the forefront that it’s not your party. All decisions should be to the liking of the person you’re celebrating!
Secure a location ASAP. This might not seem like that big of a deal but it’s one of the first things you’ll need to do. How many people can you fit? Are you allowed to have a DJ? Are you required to have a caterer? How many hours do you have to party? None of this will be known until you reserve a venue for the party.
Lies, lies and more lies. You have to toss in some deception when you’re planning a surprise party. I created fake tickets and laminated them then told my mother that we were supporting an indie playwright to kick off her birthday. The lack of enthusiasm was all over her face but she was a good sport about it lol.
Know who you can trust. I’d recommend having about 3 people that know about your plan from the absolute beginning. They can help with tedious things and keep you on track with planning but keep their mouths shut at the same time. Most people didn’t know about my mother’s party until the invitations went out. You’ll also need a trusted chaperone to keep the guest of honor busy until the time is just right to arrive at the party. I escorted my mother myself (because, hello, control freak here).
Be CLEAR that it’s a surprise. In the invitations and in conversation. Try your hardest and you still might not be able to stop someone from spilling the secret. That’s just the nature of the beast.
Be CLEAR about time. Obviously you want your attendees to arrive before the guest of honor. I think 30 minutes prior is a good gauge. People will have time to socialize before the party officially starts and this gives some time to those who will undoubtedly show up a little late. But don’t make them wait too long!
Above all create memories. Some of the things I did – had my mom walk in on a red carpet, ordered a custom guestbook, gave attendees take home favors (including cake pops which disappeared quickly *side eye*), played a few games and of course gave away prizes, cooked all the food/made fruit and veggie trays myself with the help of my then boyfriend. It was all worth it!
In my case, my mother suspected that there would be some kind of “gathering” for her. When she walked into the building and everyone yelled “SURPRISE!” she still cried – crybaby Cancers, you know. Even with her suspicions she was happy at the effort put forth for her and being celebrated always feels good! Here are some more pics from the party…even through all the stress I had so much fun that day!
Have you ever thrown a surprise party for someone?
Until next time…