Surprise parties sound great on paper. They’re the parties of the year — the ones everyone wants to be invited to and the one everyone secretly wants thrown for themselves. And when it goes off without a hitch? Pure party magic. Everyone jumps out at the right moment. The guest of honor is surprised and delighted and really had no idea this was coming. Everyone eats, drinks and makes merry all night long, and the host ends the night with the satisfaction that he or she did really good.
In real life, a surprise party can be a daunting task. Making sure the timing is right and everyone is on the same page isn’t quite as easy as it seems, but we have a few steps to follow to make sure you pull off the perfect surprise party.
It’s All About the Guest
Before diving into full party mode, ask yourself if this person really wants a surprise party. Some people just don’t like surprises and won’t deliver the reaction you’re looking for when they walk through the door. If the answer is yes, they’ll appreciate the surprise, then consider the kind of party they want and who they’d like to be there. Would they prefer a low-key surprise with a few close friends, or a full on blowout with casual acquaintances and plus-ones invited. Remember to put your honoree first and let their preferences shape the party. Check out PaperStyle surprise party invitations and make your invites easier than ever.
Timing is Key
The right day is crucial to a successful surprise. Picking an off-day like the weekend before or after the event will help to hide the surprise and make sure the honoree doesn’t know it’s coming. If you want to host the day of, you’ll have to make sure all guests are aware and sworn to secrecy. Once the day of the event arrives, have everyone show up early so there’s no interference with the honoree or premature surprise yells for a belated guest.
Pick the Location with Care
Timing and location go hand in hand. Don’t give your honoree any reason to be suspicious by picking a random place to host the party. Instead make the venue a restaurant, bar or home they often frequent so nothing appears out of the ordinary.
Keep it Under Wraps
The most important part of the party is making sure it’s kept a secret, so treat it like the top secret mission it is and tell no one outside of the attendees that it’s happening. Make absolutely sure that anyone invited is in on the secret and knows to keep their mouths shut. Gossipy friends? Don’t tell them until closer to the time of the event to increase the likelihood that your secret stays safe.
Deck it Out with Decorations and Food
If your venue allows, treat it like the celebration it is and deck it out in decorations. Keep it simple with some balloons, streamers and party poppers or unleash your creativity on a custom picture collage or homemade banner. And no party is complete without the proper food and drinks, so make sure you cover the menu. Easy homemade guacamole dip and pita chips are guaranteed crowd pleasers, or go all out with a full dinner — just make sure you clear all food and decorations with the venue first. If you’re not looking to spend hours in the kitchen, consider having food delivered through a service like Grubhub.
Decide what kinds of drinks you’ll serve as well. If it’s BYOB, state that on the invitation. Beyond that, make sure you cover your bases with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and whatever the honoree prefers. If you want to go all out, surprise them personalized wine bottles; find engraved and etched wine online that can be customized with the text or pictures of your choice.
Try a Test Run
This doesn’t have to be a full dress rehearsal done days beforehand, but if time allows have your guests practice the big surprise. If you’re planning to have everyone hide, make sure they all have designated places and know where to go. Also key is making sure there’s a way to signal when the surprisee is arriving so guests can take their spots.
Last but not least: remember to relax and have fun. It is a party, after all.