So you are thinking of throwing a surprise party. They can be a huge success if pulled off in complete secrecy. I recently threw a 30th birthday surprise party for my husband. It went off without a hitch. Below are my tips to a fun filled unforgettable evening.
Tip#1: GUEST LIST. My guest list consisted of around 100 people. Make sure to invite those old friends, co-workers and of course extended family. If they live out of town and are close friends or family make sure to call them prior to sending invitations for any travel arrangements to be made. The birthday honorary will love to reconnect with these blasts from the past and it makes for an even better surprise. Plan for two guests for everyone invited, and do not forget the younger children that will be accompanying too (should the party permit).
Tip #2: LOCATION. Depending on the time of year and size of the party, there are many locations to host the event at. Outdoor shelters are available at many local parks at an affordable price. VFW buildings rent out as well. I chose to take the home route and hosted the party at my in-laws, which made it less predictable and having everything prepared days prior. The location and weather allowed for us to set up outdoor seating, volleyball and horseshoes.
Tip#3: INVITATIONS. Make your own. I used a program known as Macromedia Freehand (you can download a free trial). I opened a new document sizing it to 8×10 and scanned a photo of my husband as a baby and a recent image. Brightening the photos in Adobe Photoshop (also offering free trial download), making it easier to see the text on the invitations. I googled “30th birthday party invitations” and you will find tons of sayings for the invitations. After selecting the perfect one I inserted the text over the photos. I decided to keep images black & white and printed the invitations on white paper (thicker than the normal). Invitations were then tri-folded and sealed close with an OVER THE HILL sticker, stamped and mailed. No envelope needed. Mail these out at least 3 weeks in advance.
Tip#4 DECORATIONS. You can try Party City or Party America and find some generic decorations. I prefer making my own decorations, using supplies from FUN Wedding Services on Johnson Dr., West of I-35. They have tons of party goodies. I found balloons of all sizes, “30” garland and accessories to make centerpieces, a very inexpensive and personal way to decorate for the event. Pick your color scheme and the rest is easy.
Tip #5: FOOD. Now is time to decide what to serve. Will you have food? If so what kind? What about drinks? I decided to serve subway style sandwiches, catering being on the high end, we acquired our meat from Sam’s Club, bread from Price Chopper and prepared condiments on our own. Doing it yourself is much more affordable and just as tasty. Sandwiches were served alongside veggies, fruit, chips & cheese dip, baked beans and pasta salad. Make your menu up in advance and find time to go to the store in secrecy. You will also need to plan drinks. I choose to have a keg, a small one serving 100+drinks, along with Summer Beer (refreshing cocktail of lemonade, vodka & beer, blended with ice), soda and water. Of course you cannot forget the CAKE. I ordered a large sheet cake at Sam’s, serving about 90 people. I also ordered cupcakes for the young kids. Much easier to serve them cupcakes and they always find them “cooler” than cake.
Tip #6: SUPRIRSE. You are worried about who is going to spill the beans. I literally had to avoid my husband to make sure I would not spoil the surprise. Everyone managed to keep the secret and upon arrival he was completely shocked. Text messaging is the easiest and safest way to notify partygoers of the arrival. All cars were discreetly hidden and everyone was as quiet as a mouse when we arrived. Complete perfection.
Hopefully my tips will help you to plan your next surprise party. We had a great evening, hopefully you will too!