This feature is reposted with permission from Bianca Octavia, creator of the DIY HER blog working with Celebration Stadium
Fun fact: My mom’s birthday is the day after mine. So in the midst of me planning my own birthday, I am also planning her special day as well.
Every year, she finds a way to celebrate me as much as possible even though it’s just as much her birthday. So this year, I want to make sure her 60th birthday is an extra special surprise and that the focus is totally on her. I am currently in the middle of deciding final details and how exactly this will play out, but there are at least six things I know for certain when it comes to pulling off the perfect surprise birthday party!
If you’ve ever planned a surprise birthday party or have been on the receiving end of one, tell me about your experience in the comments below!
1. Pick the time and place
So first things first, make sure your guest of honor is actually free and available on the day of the party (my mom is very hard to track down, so I’m making sure her schedule is open weeks ahead of time). Next, pick the place where the party will happen. Of course “home” is always the “go to” option, but really use your creativity to think of a unique and special setting where the party can take place (but also not somewhere that is super suspicious and would tip them off).
Is there somewhere that is really sentimental to the guest of honor? Or a place that they have been wanting to go to for a very long time? If so, try to reserve that location to add even more of a surprise on top of the surprise party itself!
Here are some unique suggestions:
The beach (if you live near water)
Rooftop lounge or anywhere with a beautiful view
Suite rental at a sports game
Museum or art gallery
2. Set the theme
Try to think of the guest of honor’s hobbies, what music they listen to or maybe even their favorite colors. Whatever it is, try to incorporate those elements into the theme to add in personalized touches.
My mom looooovees anything Tiffany & Co.! If I hadn’t already used that as her Mother’s Day brunch theme I would definitely do it again. For her birthday, I’m thinking of an indoor tropical/luau theme since we missed our usual summer cruise due to covid :(.
3. Create the guest list
Since we are still currently in the middle of a pandemic, I would suggest keeping your guest list at a maximum of ten close family members and friends (for my mom’s party I’ll be keeping it limited to just my siblings, nieces and nephew). If you’d like to include more people, I would suggest inviting everyone else virtually via Zoom.
When sending out invitations, make extra sure everyone is fully aware that it is a SURPRISE! (you’d be surprised how many people miss the memo)
4. Set the menu and pick out a cake
Okay, so I am very particular when it comes to food at parties. Unless it’s a wedding or formal event, I believe party food should be small finger foods that can be served on platters and passed around (who reeeaally wants to stand in a long buffet line to wait on their food?). Create a menu where your guests can grab something quick and head back to the dance floor. If you are worried about everyone not having enough food, just make sure you have a couple of options to choose from and when it’s all put together your guests will feel as if they have had a full meal. If you need some finger food suggestions, here are a few of my go-to’s!:
Wedge salad on a stick
Smoked salmon and cream cheese roll ups
Taco salad cups
Okay, so the cake! Remember in my last blog where I mentioned the Celebration Stadium?
Well they also have this really cute package called “Birthday Celebration-in-a-Box”. It includes everything you need to sing happy birthday to your guest of honor including a small personal cake for the guest of honor to enjoy just for themselves. Of course you can still have another cake on hand for all the other guests, but a personal cake just for them makes it even more special!
Another cool thing about the Birthday Celebration-in-a-Box, is that it already comes with a cake topper, candles, annnnd a small Celebration Stadium that your loved one can keep forever. You’ll already be planning an entire party, let Celebration Stadium do the thinking for you when it comes to creating the perfect birthday package for the birthday guy or girl.
Here is everything the Birthday Celebration-in-a-Box includes:
Delicious 4-layer small birthday cake
Celebration Stadium candle holder for up to 100 candles
100 gold birthday candles
Personalized birthday card with your message
Happy Birthday gold cake topper
Gold foil paper crown
Another quick thing to note: If you are not able to plan an in-person surprise party due to distance or covid, no worries! You can send a surprise party in the mail because the Birthday Celebration-in-a-Box can be shipped anywhere in the US! Let your loved one know that you are sending them something and when they receive it you would like to Facetime them to see their reaction. If you are able to orchestrate a Zoom call with the entire family then you’ll really have a party!
5. Act normal
Do your absolute best to keep everything a surprise by acting as normal as possible. You may even want to plan a decoy activity for the guest of honor on the day of just to make it seem like a “normal birthday”.
I plan to tell my mom we're going for manis and pedis since that's what we normally do on our birthdays. When we're done I’ll probably tell her I need to make a “quick stop” somewhere to pick something up, but it’ll really be the venue location.
6. Plan the perfect ambush
Grab some popcorn, a white sheet, a projector and blankets! Invite your friends and family over for an outdoor movie night. If you don’t have a big enough yard for everyone to be safely spaced at least 6 feet apart, you can always meet up at a local drive-in and park near each other.
So the perfect ambush should be broken into four different parts:
Ask that all of your guests arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the guest of honor’s arrival.
Unless you plan to blindfold your guest of honor, create a parking plan that will allow the cars to be out of plain sight so that the surprise isn’t ruined before it even happens.
Let everyone know when the guest of honor is approaching so all phones can be silenced, but also set and ready to record. Have someone in the room recording in slo-mo mode! Watching people get surprised in slow motion is the most hilarious thing ever and is a moment that everyone will continue to laugh at for years to come!
Last, but not least, SURPRISE!! Have your guests scream as loud as possible to the point where it startles your guest of honor (even the ones who chose to join via Zoom!). If they fall over from excitement, I promise they won't be mad when they get back up and see all of their friends and family, lol.
Surprise parties may take a little work (especially with it being one big secret), but seeing your loved one’s reaction in the end makes it all worth it. Remember to realllly think about the small details that will make this moment one of their favorite memories for years to come, and maybe even give them something they can keep forever like the small Celebration Stadium that is included in the Birthday Celebration-in-a-Box!