How to Keep a Surprise Birthday Party a Surprise

birthday party hats

Photo via Thomas/Flickr

Who doesn’t love surprises? If you’ve been lucky enough to have one thrown in your honor, then you know that a surprise party is one of the most exciting gifts you can receive on your birthday! Not only do they make you feel special, but they let you really enjoy your birthday celebration because all the planning and coordinating is done for you! If you’re thinking about hosting a surprise birthday party for a friend or loved one, we have some tips and ideas to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

The Guest List

surprise party invitations

Photo via Alison Allen & Nicole Ripplinger/Flickr

This one is easiest when the guest of honor is a kid. Parents undoubtedly know their children’s closest friends. If your honoree is an adult or even a teen, putting together the guest list can be a little bit trickier. Remember, you have to coordinate all the guests’ arrival without the birthday boy or girl finding out! A great way to keep the number of invitations manageable is to decide early on if you want to host a family or friend-focused event. Most folks have a few close friends who also count as family, but otherwise try to stick to your decision and invite one or the other. Or, if you’re ambitious and have enough space, invite the whole gang!

Location, Location, Location

using a taxi to arrive at a surprise party

Photo via Stuart Miles/

We can’t say it enough. A surprise party is all about… well… the surprise, and nothing will give you away quicker than a street full of parked cars. Once you have your guest list, pick a party location that will comfortably hold everyone and will also allow guests to arrive discretely. If you’re hosting the party in a home, consider asking neighbors a few streets down if they would allow guests to park along their curb. Or, if the party will be at a restaurant or public space, research large parking areas nearby that are within walking distance. If you live in a larger city, public transportation might also have you covered on this one.

The Cover Story

keeping a secret

Photo via Teerapun/

All your efforts will hinge on a convincing cover story. Obviously, the perfect idea will vary based on the personality of your guest of honor. Some advice that will be helpful in most situations though is to keep it as simple as possible. But, if you’re worried that your honoree will be wise to the tried-and-true method of “going out for a quiet dinner” you can try the more advanced double surprise – inviting relatives or close friends of the guest of honor that don’t live in town, and then hiding them in a separate room for the initial surprise. A few minutes later, bring those guests out for the second surprise! We don’t recommend this for first-time surprise party throwers!

Less is More

Trust us, even the most organized people will have their hands full the day of the actual surprise party. Between late guests and trying to keep everyone quiet, you don’t need to be worried about preparing food. Check out our gourmet gift baskets. They have something everyone will enjoy snacking on. Think about ordering an extra for guests to nibble on while you wait for the birthday boy or girl to show!

We hope these tips help make your surprise party planning a success. For those of you who’ve thrown or attended a surprise party before, share your best cover stories on our Facebook wall! We may just surprise the person with the best story with one of our favorite specialty food gifts for their next get-together.



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