10 tips for the perfect surprise party

5. February 2017 - Alexander Schmidt

10 Tips to Make a Surprise Party Legendary




You want to give someone a really personal treat? Throw them a surprise party! For a birthday, a temporary farewell, a big thank you or any other occasion: the recipient will never forget an awesome surprise party. These 10 tips will tell you how to throw a surprise party!

My First Surprise Party

It was just before I left for England – a year abroad awaited me. One of my friends called spontaneously and asked if I would like to go somewhere green with him and take advantage of the good weather. I agreed, he came to pick me up in the car, another buddy was also there.

We finally parked at a rest area on the country road and walked into a meadow. One of my mates remarked something like This place is nice. I agreed, but also said that there was a barn back there and someone must own the place. Then I saw balloons on a tree. Funny, there was no sound of anyone but us. Then we turned around a bush and I saw a barn with a banner hanging over the door: Farewell & Good Luck!.

At that moment, more friends were already jumping out of the barn and shouting loudly: SURPRISE!

This surprise party was one of the coolest gifts and one of the best parties of my life! My friends had thought of everything, and even organised a sleeping mat and sleeping bag for me, as we were staying there in the barn.

In the meantime I have planned two surprise parties myself and the guests of honour were thrilled every time. It is simply something special when friends, your partner or family give you an unforgettable day with a surprise party.

And here are my…

10 Tips on How to Make Your Surprise Party a Smash!

1. Start Planning Early and Find a Suitable Location

Pick an awesome location for a surprise party

Surprise party at the beach

The sooner you start organising the surprise party, the better. The best thing to do is to look for comrades-in-arms among your mutual friends. The first contact person is the partner of the guest of honour (if that is not you), because he or she is most likely to be very motivated to get involved in the planning. Moreover, he is the best decoy to distract the unsuspecting lucky guy until the big surprise (point 3) and to lure him to the location (point 4).

Also very important: find as soon as possible the appropriate location for the surprise party and book it. This can be a rented property (like the barn at my farewell party back then), a barbecue area, a separate room of a restaurant or a private flat. You can also hold the surprise party at the guest of honour’s home, but this makes the organisation more complicated. Even if one of you lives with him or her, you can never be 100% sure if he or she will be okay with it. There is also a greater risk that you will be caught preparing and the surprise will be blown.

2. Invite the Right Guests to the Surprise Party

Who you invite depends on two things: a) the occasion and b) who you are giving the surprise party for. Round up the people who are most important to him or her.

Maybe there is someone who is very close to the guest of honour but you don’t know personally or only by sight. Try to get these people on board as well. Often a friend knows the person better and has the mobile phone number. There are also Facebook and other social networks where you have a good chance of finding someone via the internet.

3. Keep the Guest of Honour in the Dark as Long as Possible!

Of course, the highlight of a surprise party is that it comes as a surprise to the guest of honour! To make sure the surprise goes off perfectly and the guest of honour doesn’t have a clue about it until the big moment when the bomb bursts, you should swear all planners, guests and confidants to absolute secrecy.
As you know, this is harder for some people than others, especially because you may have to make up excuses and white lies to disguise your party plans. To ensure that the guest of honour has no other plans on the day in question, at least one of you should make arrangements with him for that day. The people who are particularly close to him or her are especially suitable for this: the partner or the best buddy, so perhaps yourself. Even if you don’t know where and how the surprise party is going to take place, you can already nail down the date for the guest of honour by arranging to play squash, go to a film or do some other leisure activity. Then lure him to the right location with a clever diversion…

4. Skilfully Lure the Guest of Honour to the Location!

What’s the best way to lure the guest of honour to the location of his surprise party? Here are a few suggestions:

a) You have agreed with the guest of honour to go to the cinema or a pub, pick him/her up and say on the way that you urgently have to drop off or pick up something important for someone. You ask her/him to come with you for a moment. You tell the guests via SMS or Whatsapp group that they should all hide and get ready.

b) You frantically call the guest of honour and pretend to have a huge problem with which you absolutely need her / his help: a supposed car breakdown and you need to be picked up…. catastrophic PC problems, whereas you have to hand in your master’s thesis tomorrow… you are in the restaurant, have no cash and your EC card has been blocked… etc.

The story can be a bit wild, but it should be halfway believable. 😉

c) Be prepared for the person to start planning a party. In this case you have two options: either you call off the surprise party, which would be a pity, or you say to yourself Now more than ever and plan a particularly cunning deception together with your co-conspirators.

On the day of the party, (almost) everyone gradually cancels under some pretext or other. The birthday child or the guest of honour will then be quite disappointed and sad at first. Now it’s up to you. You and maybe one or two other friends persuade them to do something together with the few remaining party guests instead. You say, for example, The XY bar has all the drinks for free for birthday children, let’s go there etc. and… off to the location of the surprise party!!!

This may sound mean at first, but believe me: the joy of the guest of honour will be all the greater when the surprise is there.

5. Put the Surprise Party Under a Cool Motto

A surprise party is further enhanced by a special theme

Provide the right party decorations at the surprise party!

A matching theme that runs through selected decorations, clothing, food, drink and music selection once again underlines the special nature of a surprise party and makes it definitely unforgettable![/caption].

When selecting the motto, 2 criteria count again: Who is the party for? And what is the occasion? Try to match the taste of the guest of honour as much as possible. Maybe you can think of something suitable for the occasion. For a surprise party to celebrate a departure or return from a stay abroad, it is a good idea to choose the country as the theme. If someone has just passed an important professional exam or made a career move that you are celebrating, then make the profession the theme!

If you also want to dress appropriately for the motto, remember to prepare a surprise costume for the guest of honour as well.

You can also find more ideas for party themes in this article.

6. Make Sure You Have Great Music!

It’s logical, isn’t it? Especially if you are having the surprise party somewhere outside, make sure you have a really good sound system! And very important, no matter where you’re having the party: make sure you know beforehand how loud you’re allowed to be and for how long… After all, you want to end the party at a time of your own choosing, instead of the police doing it.

On the choice of music: think about who the party is for – she or he should like the music. If you have a theme and it gives you that (as in the case of 60s, Mexico, Star Wars, Tarantino…), then choose music to go with it.

Are some of you playing in a band? Or do you have the budget to book a band or a DJ? Live music is always worthwhile for a party – but it’s not cheap!

7. Organise Food and Drinks for the Surprise Party

Order food from a caterer – some inns also offer out-of-home delivery. Hot meals arrive at the desired time with hot plates and everything you need to serve them.

Buy drinks on consignment at a large supermarket or beverage store that sells all the drinks you want. This way you can plan generously and be sure that there will be no shortage of drinks. You can also return any leftover drinks after the party.

If you want to organise food and drinks yourself, it is best to set up a Facebook or Whatsapp group with all party guests or co-conspirators early on and plan a buffet to which everyone contributes something. In the group, you can exchange ideas so that you can keep an eye on what is still missing and plan without stress. If you have a country as a motto, you can prepare some typical dishes there.

If you want to go cheap with the drinks, but there should be no shortage of anything, experience shows that it is best to go two ways: everyone should bring something they like to drink. As the organiser, you also provide a solid base of water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.

8. Plan a Special Extra – The Surprise Within the Surprise

There are always more surprises waiting at a good surprise party.


If the secrecy has worked and you have organised an awesome party, your guest of honour will definitely be thrilled. But you can even improve on that! And that’s with the help of the Matryoshka principle. These are those dolls where one is inside the other and inside that is another one and so on. In the case of the surprise party, I mean: a gift within a gift or a surprise within a surprise!

If you have enough preparation time, small change and motivation and want to throw the party of a lifetime for the birthday boy / homecoming boy / exam candidate, plan a special extra at the party! This can be, for example, a scavenger hunt, fireworks, a funny show interlude, a stripper from the giant cake, a trip in the party bus.

At the climax of the party, you drop the second bombshell and reveal your special surprise within the surprise!

9. Arrange Overnight Accommodation or a Ride Home for the Guest of Honour

A pragmatic but important point: how will she/he get home? Or is an overnight stay planned at the location? In both cases, you should organise this for the person around whom everything revolves, because he/she knows nothing about his/her happiness beforehand. So appoint someone in advance who will stay sober and drive the guest of honour home, or save the number of the taxi service on site in the mobile phone. Or prepare an overnight accommodation option – rustic camping at the party location or book an overnight stay close to the party location.

10. Record the Surprise Party for Posterity

An awesome surprise party is forever remembered as a special day. Nevertheless, photos and videos to remember extraordinary moments are simply beautiful.

I still think back fondly to the surprise party I mentioned at the beginning before my year in England. But unfortunately I don’t have any photos of it. Back then, not everyone had a smartphone with which they could capture everything. That’s different today, but even with a smartphone always at the ready, many blurred selfies are quickly taken in a party mood and not a single really good picture.

To capture the best moments of the party, especially the priceless, completely amazed face of the surprised, I therefore recommend declaring one person the chief photographer (or cameraman). His job is to take the best possible pictures and shots and to ask other guests to snap them.

I hope these tips for planning your surprise party have helped you and it will be a bomb success! Feel free to post any further questions and your own suggestions about this in the comments.

Looking for more tips on organising a surprise party? We also have an article with tips for a perfect party, as well as several more party ideas. On Abenteuer Freundschaft you will also find tips for activities with friends, family and partner.

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