A Few Things I’ve Learned About Surprise Parties

This is NOT a How-To, these are just some of my own, personal reflections.

-Have a Plan to Get Your Birthday Boy/Girl Out of the House

Pretty obvious, right? Have a friend take them out for a few hours while you prepare at home. Or perhaps arrange for the party to be at a restaurant or park, and that way you can bring the Man of the hour TO his party, as if you were just going out for an afternoon together.

-Let Go of Your Expectations

It’s so easy to get this picture in your head of the perfect surprise party, where old friends reunite in honor of your beloved birthday guest, you’ve thought of all the perfect little details and decorations, and your man (or woman) of honor is overwhelmed with joy and tears of happiness as playful bubbles and confetti swirl around them after they walk through the door.

But in reality, things don’t always work out the way you pictured them in your head. And it’s OK! Often, not all the guests will be able make it. Some may have to back out. Plans may have to change. Keep in mind (as my husband told me), you are the one who knows the guest list.  Your Birthday Boy/Girl most likely does not know, and will be blessed by seeing those who are there to celebrate! They are most likely not aware of who couldn’t make it. So let it go!

-Go with the Flow

So what if things aren’t perfect? What are you here to celebrate-your loved one, or your carefully crafted decorations? Hopefully it’s your loved one! Do what you can to make the party special, but try not to stress about things that, in the end, don’t really matter. Showing love is what really matters!

-Don’t Forget the Kids Drinks!

Yeah….I definitely forgot this part!  Oops! Thankfully we had water (which is probably best for all of us!). But really, if you’re going to have kids there, don’t forget to buy some juice boxes or something similar! It’s become so common for me to just have pop as our usual party beverage, but then I realized…”wait…I don’t even give my own kids pop yet!”…and the fact that a friend was asking for kids drinks, and I had to tell her I didn’t have any.  Lesson learned.

-Ask for Help and Be Specific!

FYI, this is NOT something I am good at!  Sometimes a “what to bring” list on an evite can be overlooked or forgotten, leaving you a bit concerned if you will have everything you need for the big day. That’s when you need to make some actual phone calls!  Most of your guests would be very happy to bring something.

-Include Something Thoughtful

I really wanted my husband to have some words to read….thoughtful, encouraging, or even silly.  Something to make him smile even after the guests left the party. I cut and folded some colorful cardstock into little cards, put out some pens, and a big, clear, glass cookie jar (an empty one!), so the guests could each write a little note for him.  It was fun to watch him read him notes at the end of the day!

-Remember, It’s About Them, not You

How often do we think-or even say out loud-how things would have been better if this, that, and the other thing went differently? Or the sandwiches tasted better? Or more friends could have come? Or…or…or…

When the party is over, and you talk to your loved one about their day, ask them about how THEY felt. What did THEY enjoy about their day? When I plan things (or create things, as an artist) I tend to always notice whatever is lacking, instead of all the good. And really, that’s making it about myself, wanting to be validated, or reassured that I did a good job, blah, blah, blah. Going down that road can take away from their day, and instead puts the focus on you. But really, this is their day, not yours!

-Have FUN! And Try to Take Some Pictures!

Pretty simple. But easy to forget! You’ll be glad you took some pictures to remember your day. Maybe even ask someone to take pictures as the birthday boy/girl arrives, so you can get their reaction on camera! Thankfully a few people did this for me, even though I forgot to ask for it! (Thanks!)

-Thank Your Guests

Planning a surprise party involves a lot of details! Don’t forget to thank your friends and family for their help pulling it all together!