How to Throw a Surprise Party

How to Throw a Surprise Party

Does a person you like have a big event coming up that deserves a surprise party? Excellent. Time for some serious, secret planning. But to make sure it goes off without a hitch, you've got to be sneaky. The best surprise parties are well thought-out, involve only a few people in the beginning stages, and, obviously, are a total secret! With the following guide, your guest of honor will remember this party for a long, long time.


[Edit]Planning the Event

  1. Pick a party theme. An easy way to get people jazzed about a party is to give it a theme. They get to come up with a crazy outfit to wear, see everyone else's, and you get the chance to use your creativity when it comes to decorations, prizes, and activities. The best part? It can be anything; cartoon-themed, color-themed, holiday-themed (who said you can't have an ugly Christmas sweater party in July?) – anything!
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    • However, keep in mind that even if you don't have a theme, the party can still rock! It'll be a bit more casual and for that reason, likely less suspicious. Your party-person could wander in and not even realize they've wandered into a party for them! What's more, if there isn't a theme, your guest of honor will be able to fit right in, not having prepared anything themselves.
  2. Pick a place your guest of honor frequents to avoid suspicion. If you tell your party-person that you're heading to the nicest restaurant in town, they'll know that there's an occasion. However, if you tell them that you're heading to the same restaurant you go to every Thursday night, suspicion will be kept at a minimum. Pick a place that seems "normal," whether it's a restaurant, a bowling alley, or just another friend's house.
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    • If you do choose a restaurant, be sure to make a reservation around a month in advance. You want to be sure you can get prime space for all the people in your party.
  3. Pick a date before the actual occasion. If this surprise party is for a birthday, holding a party on the day of might be a little hard to turn into an awesome surprise; your person is probably expecting something, especially if you've known each other for a long time. To avoid that (and to avoid the person thinking you've forgotten about them, which may, in itself, be suspicious), plan something before the actual occasion, like their birthday.
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    • In addition to picking a date before their actual day, choose a time and date where all of their friends are able to go and of course, the guest of honor, too. Since this is impossible to know without asking, improve your odds by giving them a lot of notice and choose a time and date where you don't know of anything else already going on.
  4. Choose your guests. You essentially have two options: a nice, small gathering or a big, roaring get-together. Here's what to consider:
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    • A small group. This is easier to manage, people can keep their mouths shut, and it creates a more intimate environment (easier to book at restaurants, etc.) However, it's less impressive and more people might be upset that they're not invited.
    • A large group. This is harder to manage and coordinate, the word might slip out, it's harder to get a space, but in the end, your party person might be floored by seeing everyone they love in one room (alternatively, they could be overwhelmed, depending on their personality).
  5. Tell people individually. The hardest part about a surprise party is making sure your guest of honor doesn't find out, people you don't want there don't find out, no one else makes plan with your party person, and other people aren't hurt they're not coming. To avoid these issues as much as possible, tell people individually, face-to-face, over the phone, or via a personalized email. This way it's not a large group thing that everyone is buzzing about, ruining everything.
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    • Having a one-on-one talk is better for a plethora of reasons: you make sure they understand everything, can emphasize how important it is to kept a secret, and you know no one else is around to overhear you. If they have any questions, they'll come to you later, and not starting talking to other people.
    • Keep in mind that you may have to lie to some people – those that you think may blab the secret. But don't think of it as lying! Think of it as protecting the integrity of your party. Tell them that you're doing a dinner or night out, but don't tell them there's a big deal behind it. However, tell them it's only a few people, so don't mention it. This way, they'll have no reason to talk about it.
  6. Make plans with the guest of honor. No, that doesn't mean, "Hey, party for you next Friday!" It means you make other plans with them to reserve their time – this way they don't make other plans that you have to beg them to cancel later on. It doesn't really matter what it is, just make sure they're dressed appropriately!
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    • Tell others not to, too. This is where it gets tricky – even if some people aren't invited, you may want to tell them not to make plans with your party person. Let them know you're doing something with them for their big day that day (just a small thing) to keep their schedule clear.
  7. Be sure your guest of honor would want a surprise party. There are three types of people in this world: those that don't like surprise parties because they always want to be prepared, those that don't like surprise parties because they think they're being forgotten, and those that love a good surprise party in their honor. Make sure your party-person falls into the third category!
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    • There are a few things you can do to get around the fact that your party-person is the first or second type, though. If they always want to be prepared, tell them a similar story about what they're "going to be doing" so they're dressed appropriately and know what mood to be in. If they think they're being forgotten, have something well in advance of their actual day.

[Edit]Preparing for the Event

  1. Have one of their best friends help you. Taking a surprise party all on your own shoulders is a lot to ask – it can get very, very stressful quickly. To help spread the weight, have one of their best friends help you with the organization. Besides, you'll need someone to be with the guest of honor while you wrangle up the guests!
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    • Be sure it's someone who's actually close to them. If you choose someone who's not really interested, they could be late, make the wrong suggestions, or blab to people you don't want knowing.
  2. Get all the supplies, decorations, and food you'll need. If you're doing it at someone's home, you'll need to take care of everything from decorations to food to party activities, if any. If it's at a restaurant, provide a few minimal decorations, like a few balloons or party favors.
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    • If it's a themed party, that'll make choosing decorations and food a little easier (fewer options). Just make sure you have some hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and, for a birthday party, a cake!
  3. Pick a safe place to stockpile the supplies. Here's the thing: you have to make sure your guest of honor doesn't see the food and the decorations. If he or she opens your fridge and it's stockpiled to the brim, you may have to field some questions. So get an off-site location (like a friend's house the party person won't go to) to store everything. The day of the party, bring everything in.
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    • This includes correspondence stuff, too. Don't leave a message with someone else where the person can find it!
  4. Re-confirm with all the guests. The night before, re-confirm the details with all their friends by text messaging or calling. Don't send them an e-mail, in case they might not check their e-mail that day. Call them and let them know any extra buzz.
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    • At this time, you may want to tell any guests you fibbed to of the actual details of the event. Just say you wanted to be sure it was kept a secret – there's no way they can argue with that!
  5. Set up the location for the party on the day. To keep it simple, set up everything for the party the day of. This way if the party person happens to drop by, you won't go scurrying to hide anything. Give yourself extra time in case anything goes wrong or is forgotten.
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    • Have guests who are bringing items (like a dish) come even earlier, if they can. They can also go run an extra errand if need be, while you can continue setting up.

[Edit]Delivering the Surprise

  1. Have everyone arrive an hour early to the party. If your party starts at 7:00pm, have all the guests be there by 6:00pm. People are always late to parties, this way, everyone will be together by 6:30pm and you'll have plenty of time to organize the big reveal.
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    • You'll have a few people who are actually punctual. For them, make sure you have some food and drinks ready on time so they're not left bored and hungry.
  2. Have one person with the guest of honor as the "Chaperone" to distract the guest of honor and one person with all the attendees. This is why having their best friend helping you out will be a life saver. They can have the person with them, going and doing whatever the cover plan was, and you can correspond with them – they should let you know when they're on their way, etc. You can then manage the party and the guests.
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    • Make sure they keep you posted on how things are going and how far away they are. This way when you get a text that says, "10 minutes!" you'll be fully prepared.
  3. Make sure everyone understands the big reveal. Some people choose to go with the standard lights off, hide-behind-couches, yell "Surprise" or cheer surprise. Other people choose to pretend it's just a normal party and let the person find out when they see their name on the cake. However you choose, be sure all the guests are on the same page. You may want to practice before the surprise.
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    • Make sure all the logistics are covered. Can your friend get in? Make sure the door is unlocked so you don't have to ruin it by coming to the door in a dark room. Will parking be an issue? Is anyone in the bathroom as the party person is walking up the stairs? Get them out!
  4. Surprise them! And success! Your well-planned party has gone off without a hitch! Well, hopefully. Did they have any idea? Even if they did, they'll feel incredibly loved and appreciate all the work you went to.
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  • Get help from friends and other family people. Taking it on all by yourself can be hard and stressful.
  • It's better not to tell little kids about a surprise party. For all you know, they could run around screaming, "PARTY!" and let it slip to the guest of honor.
  • Be sure to have alcoholic beverages if appropriate for age group and beliefs of the guest of honor.
  • If you don't know what your friend wants as a present, try getting a friend to ask them for you or just go with a gift card or cash.
  • If you think you forgot something at home or somewhere else always have someone who is where the supplies were to call and check to make sure.
  • If you are having the party at your house, you can invite the guest of honor over an hour after all the other guests arrive and pretend it is just a small dinner.
  • If you are throwing one for for a little kid, first tell the guests' parents the information then do it.


  • Be careful no one breaks anything if you're having the party at someone's house. Make a rule for everyone to not go upstairs or areas you would like to keep private.
  • Keep the guest of honor's preferences in mind. If they don't like cake, serve a fresh fruit cake or sheet of Rice Krispies, or whatever treats they like most.

[Edit]Things You'll Need

  • Refreshments and party food
  • Decorations
  • Invitations
  • An excuse to bring your friend over to the party
  • The ability to keep the party a secret!

[Edit]Related wikiHows


[Edit]Quick Summary

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