Planning a party is hard work and a feat of organisation but add the element of surprise, and the goal posts really shift. This is your must-use guide to planning the perfect surprise party!

Planning the FOOD

Normally, for a surprise event, guests are assembled before the main guest of honour arrives. They all need something to keep them occupied and that means having food and drink ready for when guests start to arrive.

Planning the DRINKS

A bar hire company will be worth their weight in gold for making sure you have all the drinks on hand that you need. Remember to tell them how big the guest list is and the most important fact: this is a surprise party!


You really cannot tell people too many times that this is a surprise party. Keep reminding people over and over again because you don’t want the cat letting out of the bag. As well as paper invites, consider a closed group on social media (just don’t call it X’s surprise party!) and use email too.


You need to distract the guest of honour, making sure his or her mind is on something that is in no way connected with a party, whether it is a surprise gathering to celebrate their birthday or an anniversary. This means making sure that everyone who needs to know what or where you are ‘supposed’ to be going knows the real arrangements.


If you plan on the guests of honour being surprised at 4 pm, for example, ask people to assemble at least an hour before. You will need to let the caterers and the bar hire company know this too as they may need longer to set up and be ready for guests.

Enlist HELP

You are going to need at least three or four trusted allies in organising and pulling off a surprise party. These are the people that wrangle guests into the right place at the right time, as well as work with caterers and the bar hire company on the day.

There are all kinds of practical considerations such as:

  • Where is everyone going to park?
  • How will you decorate the venue without it giving the game away?
  • Who is going to look out for your arrival etc?



Frankly, the moment your guest of honour realises that they have been duped is priceless. Make sure you have at least two people capture the moment from different angles. The photos of their reaction will circulate for years to come.

Will They LIKE IT?

It’s a big question and only one that you can answer but not everyone is comfortable with being surprised. It can be something as simple as not being dressed comfortably or feeling out of place with being the centre of attention. All too often, we think of surprise parties as being huge, raucous affairs but sometimes, smaller is better – but perhaps a more manageable surprise!

Planning a party means being super-organised but planning a surprise party is taking it to the next level!

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