How to arrange a surprise party (and keep it under wraps!)

Are you wondering how to arrange a surprise party for your nearest and dearests? It is no mean feat. It means having to keep everything to yourself (or to a select few), making big decisions without having that person to discuss ideas with first – basically, it means quite a lot of stress!

But we don’t say that to put you off. The greatest reward will be the moment your loved one discovers what’s been going on behind their back, the surprise and pleasure on their face, the sheer joy they will experience during the party. That’s what makes the hard work so worthwhile. So how do you go about planning a surprise party for someone special without raising suspicion?

Here are our top tips for how to arrange a surprise party:

What does the guest of honour like the most

Don’t forget, this is a party for them and shouldn’t be planned around your likes and dislikes. Put yourself in their shoes, think about previous parties they’ve enjoyed (and why), whether they are happiest in a big crowd or would prefer a gathering of close friends and family, their favourite food and drink, taste in music and so on.

Where should you host the party

At home? In a venue? Each has its pros and cons. It may be more of a challenge to organise a party at home – but by no means impossible – in comparison to hiring a venue. You have to be even more secretive, resourceful and downright fiendish if you’re holding the party at home. You may need to enlist the help of a few people you can trust to store props, decorations and other party paraphernalia. Fairly obviously, a venue presents less obstacles and you only have to really concern yourself with how you’ll get your loved one there without blowing the surprise.

Marquee rustic bar at 21st birthday party in Wimbledon   10th wedding anniversary party in a marquee in Surrey   Tipi marquee with fairy lights at 50th Wedding anniversary in Surrey

Hold the party before the actual date of the event you are celebrating

Let’s imagine it’s your other half’s 40th birthday. You present them with a card and maybe a few presents in the morning, there’s no mention about going out to celebrate and friends seem to have been avoiding them. Your partner feels totally deflated and you have an awful lot to do over the next few hours – it’s not a great scenario! That’s why it can be better to hold the party a few days before, it means you won’t have to manage the emotions of a loved one who might feel hurt and neglected.

Who you should celebrate the day with

The guest list should reflect who they will want to celebrate with. Think about all the people in your loved one’s life – family, childhood friends, friends from student days, friends made through work, friends from the gym or through other interests they may have. Do some detective work, bringing together people that will put a huge smile on the face of your loved one, will be a job well done.

Choose who you can trust

The less people know, the less likely the surprise will be accidentally revealed in conversation. Share only the information your guests need to make sure they turn up at the right time on the right day. You will, of course, need a few people to help you on the day. Someone will need to coordinate guests and ensure everything is ready for the arrival of the guest of honour – even to the point of checking no one goes to the loo at the wrong time! And someone needs to be with the guest of honour to keep them in the dark (as it were) and make sure they are where they need to be.

Decide on the dress code

Fancy dress probably isn’t the best idea – how on earth will you get them to dress as their favourite Disney character without them wondering what’s going on?! Whether the party has a formal or casual dress code, it will be much easier to get your loved one to dress accordingly.

Know what your guest of honour will do on the day

Apart from making sure they are dressed appropriately for the party, you’ll need to make sure they are kept busy and well out of the way in the lead up to the event. This might mean getting a friend to spend the day with them or arranging a – as far as they are concerned – pre-birthday treat that will keep them occupied for the right amount of time. Then it’s simply (ha ha!) a case of getting them from wherever you’ve sent them to the party.

Plan the big reveal

First things first, make sure all the guests arrive in good time. Asking them to be there an hour beforehand is a really good idea, just make sure there are drinks and nibbles to keep them happy! For people are driving to the party, think about where they will park – especially if anyone has an easily recognisable car or distinctive plate that might be spotted and so give the game away. If your party is at home, ask guests to park away from your house. However, if it’s at a venue, try and arrange parking away from the entrance where friends’ cars will be less noticeable. And do make sure that someone is ready with a camera to capture all the reactions as the guest of honour arrives – this is where a professional photographer can be very useful!

Don’t forget to feed everyone!

How to arrange a surprise party and feed everyone. Food can make or break a party and, alongside the moment of surprise itself, the food you serve will be something your guests will remember. Depending on the type of party you’re planning, you could consider a sit-down dinner or more informal bowl food. A smaller gathering of friends might better suit a three-course dinner, whereas bowl food, where guests can still mingle and chat, would work well for a large party.

Midsummer nights dream themed party table decor   Sweet canapes at 50th birthday party in Surrey   Champagne drinks reception at surprise birthday party in Surrey

Consider calling in the professionals!

We’ve been involved in a number of surprise parties just recently, so we know just how tricky they can be from a logistical point of view. We also know just how much stress we can take off our clients’ shoulders and it can certainly make the whole process much easier if someone else is doing all the organising, leaving you with the responsibility of organising the guest of honour.

If you are planning a surprise party and would like to know how to arrange it or could do with a helping hand, just give MGN events a call – we know how to keep a secret!

Event management - Party Planning - MGN events

Download our guide to Party Planning!

Planning a party? Download our guide.

Contact Us Today!

Complete the form below to arrange a consultation with one of our event experts.