When it comes to planning a surprise party, there are a few important things to consider. The most important is, would the guest of honor truly appreciate being the center of a surprise? If you think your loved one is the type that would relish it, then surprise away! Also, make sure the invitees can keep a secret and that you have an appropriate venue to host a daring covert operation. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be a stealthy party planner, then get ready to shout, “SURPRISE!” as we walk you through the top five challenges you’ll need to tackle.
1. Selecting a Date. Ah, the date! A host often considers the “day of” as a perfect day. But really you’ll want to host your shindig prior to the big birthday or anniversary so that the guest of honor is not expecting the party. Do it after the big day and it’ll seem like you forgot – or you’ll be stuck hosting another smaller party to throw them off the trail. The weekend before is usually your best bet.
2. Creating a “Cover Story”. The number one factor in a successful surprise party is… keeping it a surprise! So you must create a fool-proof cover story so that everyone can play their parts like pros. It needs to be something plausible and that doesn’t require too much explanation as to not arouse suspicion. Click here for a list of the top five cover stories.
3. Keeping the Story Straight. Make sure you are crystal clear with your guests that A) the party is a surprise and B) that you explain exactly what the cover story is so that everyone is on the same page. You’ll most likely need to enlist the help of friends and family to help distract the guest of honor on the big day, so it’s important that everyone knows exactly what the plan is. Remember to ask guests to park away from the party venue if they have a car the person would recognize. Also be very specific about start time. Tell your guests what time they need to be there and what time the guest of honor will arrive. There’s nothing worse than having a surprise guest show up at the same time as the honoree. Awkward! Don’t assume guests will think of these things – good communication is key.
4. Creating a Guest List. Depending on who you’re planning a party for, you may or may not have email or home addresses for them. If it’s your husband, you’ll probably know most of the invitees. But if it’s a parent and they have lots of old friends that you don’t necessarily know, you may have to do a little detective work. Social media sites like Facebook can be very helpful in tracking down old friends that should be included in the party.
5. Collecting RSVPs. It can be awkward to contact people you don’t know well (or at all) to hound them for their response, and it’s also too easy for mailed reply cards to fall into the wrong hands. Creating a digital invitation (click here to see our Surprise Party invite gallery) with an RSVP option is a terrific way to keep the guests informed of party updates, plus you won’t leave a paper trail. Digital invitations have the added benefit of being able to send group reminders – a big bonus when planning a surprise. If you don’t have email addresses for all of your potential guests, contact them the way you found them: Through social media and other contacts.