Throwing a surprise party takes planning and a bit of trickery, but it’s just awesome when the guest of honor arrives and everyone yells “Surprise!” With organization and a little help from some friends, you can pull off a party that folks will talk about for years.

First, decide where you want to have the party. Remember, everything hinges on the element of surprise. You can throw the party at your place or perhaps an area restaurant has banquet space you can rent. You’ll need to enlist the help of some friends to come up with a fake reason to lure the guest of honor to the party site or away from home if the party’s at her place.

Approach your guests a few weeks before the party, just to get an idea of how many folks to expect. Tell them more official invitations will arrive soon. Caution everyone repeatedly that this party is a surprise. Warn them, too, about discussing the upcoming festivities on social media sites where the honoree might see the discussions and be tipped off. Children have a tough time keeping secrets, so don’t tell them about the party until you’re heading out the door. 

Once you’ve pinned down the location, it’s time to think about decorating for the party. Balloons in the guest of honor’s favorite color are always good, as are Custom Vinyl Banners printed with appropriate messages such as “Happy Birthday!” or “We’ll Miss You!” For a milestone birthday, you could go with an all-black theme and decorate the space with foam tombstones and “Over the Hill” signs (only if the guest of honor has a sense of humor). For a going away party, an arrangement of vintage suitcases is a charming decoration. One fun idea that works for any occasion is to ask each guest to bring a photo from the past of them with the honoree. Display these at the party and give them to the honoree later. 

As for entertainment, play the guest of honor’s favorite songs off her own music device, if you can obtain it without her knowledge. If that’s not feasible, program music you know she loves. If this is a surprise birthday party, it’s always fun to include some tunes from the year the birthday boy or girl was born. As for food, keep it simple and easy to transport to the party site. It goes without saying that it should be something the guest of honor enjoys. 

Lyndsi Decker is a freelance writer. She is currently promoting Custom Vinyl Banners. She enjoys mountain biking and spending time with her husband and two girls.

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