How to Organize an Unforgettable Surprise Birthday

Birthdays are special and should always be celebrated with at least a little fanfare. But every once in awhile it’s fun to go the whole hog and throw a surprise birthday bash for someone you love. It can be especially enjoyable to surprise someone who claims she doesn’t really want to do anything special for her big day.

The trick to pulling off a truly memorable surprise is simply a little bit of organization and planning. So if you’ve got someone special you’d like to surprise, read on for some great ideas.

Sarah on “The Benefits of Meticulous Planning”

“A very good family friend of ours turned 75 in early June. She and her husband have been married for 52 years, and in all that time, he’d never thrown her a big surprise party. In fact, in the hustle-and-bustle of raising six rambunctious boys, the grown-up’s birthdays were sort of an afterthought. Her husband wanted to change all that on her 75th. So, in late March, he started planning for not just one, but two big surprises. First he wanted to surprise her with a big family barbeque at the house with all of the children and grandchildren present. Then, later that same evening, he wanted to surprise her again with an elegant sit down dinner with their grown children and their spouses so all could toast and roast her properly. With enough advance warning, all of the boys were able to coordinate schedules and travel arrangements. The arrivals to the barbeque were carefully coordinated for maximum impact. The look on her face when her sons who had moved away showed up on her doorstep looking for a barbeque was priceless. Then promptly at 4:30pm, everybody took off citing previous engagements. At 7:30pm the grown-ups reassembled at a local restaurant and greeted her with a rousing ‘surprise!’ the moment she walked through the door (she thought she was going out for a quiet dinner with her husband). Instead, she walked into a room decorated with pictures of her throughout the years, balloons, and beautiful peonies, her favorite flower. Her husband had planned every detail meticulously and the results were truly unforgettable.”

Alicia on “Non-Big Birthdays Are Great for Surprises Too”

“You don’t have to wait until someone hits a major milestone, like their 30th or 50th, to arrange a surprise party. In fact, some of the most incredible parties I’ve been to were surprises on ‘odd’ years – like someone’s 37th. The person being feted is often without any expectation for a special celebration and is completely taken aback, which makes it all the more fun for everyone.”

Here are a few ideas for planning a surprise party that will knock the socks off of someone you love.

1. Pick a Date Carefully (and Well in Advance)

Plan in advance! If you try to pull off a surprise at the last minute, things are bound to go wrong. Important friends may have scheduling conflicts that they can’t get out of, or worse, the person you’re celebrating may too. The ideal time to throw a surprise party is a few days before or after the birthday. Otherwise you might be spoiling a quiet dinner, or the birthday person might guess. Once you have the date locked and loaded, send out eVites to guests – they’re quick to assemble and easy for others to lock into their electronic calendars so they don’t forget.

2. Enlist the Help of Others

The more creative brains you can put towards the big event, the more special it will be. For example, without help, Sarah’s family friend wouldn’t have thought to rent a bouncy castle for the family barbeque to entertain the little kids; it turned out to be the hit of the party. From selecting the food to decorating the joint, you’ll be glad to have people on hand to help pull it all together – and they’ll be glad they get to help do something special to celebrate a friend.

3. Get Creative about Ways to Surprise the Guest of Honor

There are many ways to do this well. All it takes is a little brainstorming, which always goes better if you have others brainstorming with you. Here are some ideas to consider. Have a friend invite the guest of honor over for tea or to watch a game and surprise them when she shows up. Another trick is to have one person take the birthday boy or girl out for an errand, and have others set up the house so that upon returning, the party is ready to go. No matter what ruse you choose, the birthday boy or girl will love being celebrated.