Planning a Surprise Birthday Party

My husband turned 30 this month, and even though he is the kind of guy that doesn’t want to make a big deal about his birthday, I knew we had to celebrate this milestone. Mind you, this was my first time planning a surprise party, but it was a success!

1. Craft the Plan

You first need a distraction plan. It has to be something simple and routine in order to avoid raising suspicion. In our case, my husband goes golfing all the time with his friends, so it seemed very natural for one of his friends to suggest going golfing on Saturday, and it was perfect to get him out of the house and give me enough time to prep everything.

2. Get Accomplices

It is hard to pull off a surprise party without help, and I knew I needed it for the distraction part of the plan (a.k.a. golf buddies) and the guest parking coordination (#TownhouseLife). Share your plans with whomever is helping you and make sure they are on-board before spreading the word to the guests.

3. The Evites

Send the Evites early enough so that your friends can come, but late enough to minimize ruining the surprise. I used for this one, and asked guests to be at my house one hour before the birthday boy would get back just in case.

Communication is critical! Make sure to inform them about:

  • What is the plan?
  • What do they need to do?
  • When? Where?


4. Choose a Theme

Ok…I know he is turning 30 not 3, but you want some sort of subtle theme to make it fun, thoughtful, and to have a reason to decorate. In my case the “duh!” theme was Atlanta Falcons related, because he loves them and I got him for his birthday a Falcons golf bag, so I went with black and red.

Matt 30 -3 Matt 30

5. Create a Menu

The celebration plan included dinner at a restaurant, but since the party would start earlier at my house, serving apps was a must! When you know you will have limited prep time, keeping the menu simple is key. Given the time constraint I would recommend either making quick recipes that you have done before or buying easy apps like cheese and crackers. I decided to make two cold apps (avocado dip and corn salsa), buy two easy cold apps (cheese & crackers and hummus & pita chips), and bake cinnamon sugar cupcakes (my husband loves cinnamon.)

Matt 30 2

6. Write a To Do List

Where do you need to go? What do you need to buy/do/cook and in what order? Write everything down by location and review the list to see what can be purchased in advanced that either doesn’t raise suspicion or can be hidden. My lists included groceries , decor from Party City/Dollar Store, and beverages. I planned this party a month in advance, so every time I would make a grocery on liquor store run, I would slowly stock up, so the day of the party I only needed to go buy ice, prep, bake, organize, and get ready.

7. Keep Guests Informed

Either start an email chain or a group text to communicate with everyone for the surprise portion. After that… have fun!

8. Improvise if Needed

Sometimes surprise parties throw a curve at the party planner. In my case, the morning of the party we had a water outage and we were going to have 28 people over. Besides praying for this to get fixed before the party, I informed all guests about the issue, and I went to the grocery store and bought bottled water (for drinking) and water gallons (for flushing) just in case. Two hours into the party the water outage was over and everything worked out.


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