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Surprise Birthday Party Planning

10 Tips for Planning the Perfect Surprise Birthday Party

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If you’ve ever attended a surprise birthday party, you can probably remember the building anticipation and excitement. It’s a fantastic experience for everyone involved, including the birthday guest of honor.

When it comes to actually planning a surprise party, details can seem a little complicated. First and foremost, make sure the birthday guy or gal would actually enjoy the small deception followed by a big surprise. If it’s a go, then you have some planning to do.

To help you out, the experts at Giftster have 10 tips for planning the perfect surprise birthday party. 

1. Recruit some sneaky co-conspirators

If you’re hoping for a big surprise event, you should recruit some friends or family to help you with ideas, organization, and being super sneaky. These co-conspirators can help you keep the story straight and alleviate some of the load of planning a huge party.

They can also help you ask the guest of honor questions without being too suspicious. After all, two questions from four people is a lot less of a surprise party giveaway than eight questions from one person.

2. Play the clever detective

What does the birthday guest of honor like? Finding out some of these details can help you with your planning. Have they always wanted to go ax-throwing? Does their favorite restaurant have a fun event space? Is blue their favorite color? Who are their closest friends?

Do a little clever digging to help determine the party’s location, theme, and foods.

3. Find a surprise party venue

When you’re choosing a venue for a surprise party, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind to help with your planning. 

If it’s a big open space like a bowling alley, a big surprise reveal might be hard to pull off. If it’s at someone’s house, is there enough room for everyone you want to include on the guest list? Narrow down your venue to a practical location the birthday guy or gal will love, that’s not out of your budget, and that will accommodate the type of surprise you’re hoping to pull off.

4. Choose a customized theme

Think of some of the guest of honor’s favorite things, and try to tie one into a surprise party theme they’ll enjoy. Consider a TV show or movie, color, hobby, food, drink, decade, band, or foreign city. Plan your decorations, supplies, and possibly guest outfits to match the theme.

5. Create the decoy plan

This is one of the most important aspects of a surprise birthday party. There are several parts of the decoy plan to consider, and some tricks you may have to pull to make sure the birthday guy or gal doesn’t catch on to the surprise.

  • The date: Choose a day or evening a week or two before the actual birthday for a true surprise. Create a “fake” plan so they set aside the day and time.
  • Transportation: Make sure there’s a sneaky way to get the guest of honor to the venue. For example, you can say you’re treating them to an early birthday dinner and have everyone waiting at the restaurant when you arrive. Have someone else drive so there’s no risk of them showing up early and ruining the surprise.
  • Gift registry: Create an excuse to ask them to create a wish list so party guests know exactly the best presents to buy. An online gift registry service like is the perfect wish list maker for keeping the gifts a surprise, too.

6. Send out sly invitations

Absolutely include that the party is a surprise on the invitations. The more you remind guests not to give up the surprise, the better. Make sure to include all of the relevant information, including the time guests need to arrive and be ready for the birthday guy or girl.

You can use printed invitations, but don’t forget about the benefits of social media. A Facebook group, for example, also helps keep communication open between you and the guests.

7. Prepare the surprise party decorations, food, and drinks

If you’re having a surprise party at a venue that serves food and drinks, this part is easy. If it’s at a private residence or park, you’ll need to plan for some snacks and beverages. With co-conspirators, you can each bring a few edible items.

Decorations and supplies are fun to prepare and set up at the venue. You can include balloons, banners, streamers, and paper products that all match the party’s theme. Of course, check with the venue to make sure there aren’t any restrictions on decorations.

8. Remind guests of the sneaky plans

A day or two before the big day, contact the guests and remind them of the plans. (This is where WhatsApp or a Facebook group are beneficial.) You’ll want to make sure they all arrive at the dedicated time.

Contact anyone involved in the decoy plan, too, to make sure everything is ready to run like clockwork leading up to the big surprise.

9. Surprise the guest of honor

The most popular way to surprise the birthday guy or gal is to have all the guests hiding at the party location, ready to jump out and yell “Surprise!” as soon as the guest of honor walks through the door. You might want to hand out some noise makers for added effect.

Another option you have, though, is to have the birthday guy or gal already at the location and have guests trickle in over five to ten minutes. It’s just as fun, but a little less loud.

10. Enjoy the surprise party

As the host, you may have a few more roles throughout the night, such as bringing out the cake or organizing gifts. But make sure you have fun, too.

You’ve done a lot of work to put the surprise birthday party together. Once it gets started, don’t forget to relax and enjoy yourself. You deserve it.

Happy planning!

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