CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) - SURPRISE! So you want to plan a surprise birthday party, but aren't quite sure how to pull it off, Jill Monson, the Chief Inspiration Officer at Inspired Marketing in Agawam shared some tips!
Tips for planning the perfect surprise party:
1. Does the person like surprises? Be sure that this is something your friend will enjoy. Not everyone likes surprise parties.
2. Zip it. The first rule of planning a surprise party is: Do not talk about the surprise party. The second rule of the surprise party is: Do not talk about the surprise party. Getting all of the party guests to keep the secret is notoriously difficult, but not impossible.
3. Don't plan too far ahead. If you do, someone is bound to let the cat out of the bag.
4. Designate an accomplice - Having a partner in crime who does not live in the same house as the guest of honor makes it easier to store party supplies, track RSVPs, decorate the party venue and ensure that the guest of honor shows up at the right time and place. Make sure this person can keep a secret (and a straight face).
5. Keep RSVPS secret
A surprise invitation should make it crystal clear that this is a huge secret and that you are counting on guests not to spill the beans. Direct RSVPs to a private cell phone or e-mail (yours or your accomplice's), especially if you're planning the party for a spouse or someone who lives with you.
6. Set a dress code
Keep in mind that your surprise will not appreciate arriving home to a formal soiree if she's decked out in sweatpants and sneakers. Ask guests to dress the same way the guest of honor will be attired.
7. Plan the diversion
Never assume that your guest of honor will arrive at the designated party venue at the right time without a babysitter. Have your accomplice take him out for a quiet dinner or movie, then head to the party at the designated time.
8. Have a plan B. If you're planning an outdoor event, just in case the weather turns sour. Always check with companies and businesses that you will be using before solidifying the plans. Ask about all of the details and policies for food, beverages and large parties. This will ensure that your surprise party doesn't crash and burn because of some policy that you didn't know about.
10. Choose a theme - Base it on the honoree's personality.
Tips for the day of:
If the party is at a home, ask guests to arrive at least an hour before your victim's expected arrival and instruct them to park around the block. Better yet, see if a neighbor will let you use her driveway. The last thing you want is to ruin the surprise at the last minute with 20 cars parked in front of the house. For the same reason, ban exterior party decorations.
Capture the moment
Plan to have someone capture the moment of surprise in a photo.
How do you help to keep it secret?
One fun way to keep the real party under wraps is to either plan or even throw a smaller "fake" party on a different date. This way, the guest of honor thinks that his birthday is being remembered and will not suspect a larger surprise birthday party.
Time it right
Another way to keep the element of surprise is to hold the party before or after the actual birthday, or at an unusual time. While the birthday girl may be suspicious of an outing in the evening, she will not be expecting a birthday brunch or afternoon picnic. If possible, suggest any guests having contact with honoree casually mention they will be attending to some fictitious activity that day.
Different party ideas
For the friend who knows the ending lines to every film ever made since 1940, consider renting a movie theater for a couple of hours if you're throwing a large party. You will probably have to choose a time when the theater is not normally open or busy. Black and silver balloons, ribbons and other decorations are perfect for this cinema theme.
For outdoorsy types, a picnic at a scenic spot might be just perfect. Invite your friend on a hike that ends up at the picnic spot where the party is waiting. Keep the decorations natural, and dispose of trash and leftovers properly. Have a backup plan in case of bad weather.
A memory party can be held anywhere. Decorate with old photographs and ephemera from places that the guest of honor has been. Use a scanner and printer to ensure that irreplaceable photographs don't get ruined. Ask everyone to write a little about their best memories with the recipient and place these on keepsake cards. You can even have some bakeries print an edible copy of a photograph for the cake.
Table for two
This is a fun but quiet surprise where the party comes to the guest of honor -- appropriate for those who might scare easily. For this birthday surprise, rent out either the entire restaurant, or as many tables as you need to accommodate guests. The guest of honor and her companion arrive at a nearly empty restaurant and are seated at a table in the center of the room. One by one, the surrounding tables fill
up with friends and family of the birthday person. Coincidentally, the entire restaurant is soon full of the entire party -- surprise!