4 min read
The most important part of a surprise party is the one that receives the least amount of attention.
The first two minutes.
I learned this the hard way recently as my sister’s significant other, Nate, and I planned a surprise 50th birthday party in her honor, at her home.
After weeks of prepping, it seemed like everything was coming together the night of the party. Decorations and dinner were in place, guests had arrived, and sangria was poured.
Once we got word that my sister would arrive in 5-10 minutes, the chaos started.
Where should guests stand for the big reveal?
Anyone have enough battery power on their phone to record her reaction?
Would she see the giant pile of coats and wonder what was going on?
Bottom line: we did a good job planning the party, but we didn’t consider how to reveal the surprise or how to make the most of this memorable moment.
Thankfully, we did end up surprising my sister, but it was soooooo close! If we had thought about the “reveal” ahead of time, guests wouldn’t have been racing from room to room like an out of control I Love Lucy episode; we would have a complete video of her reaction and more.
I can’t go back and redo the “big reveal” of my sister’s surprise 50th birthday party, nor can I bottle up the abundance of birthday love from that night.
BUT...what I can do is share some suggestions on what I’d do differently so that YOUR next surprise party is seamless.
Keep reading for details or jump directly to a particular section:
I believe a surprise party in someone's honor is a rare treat. Not only are people coming together to celebrate the Birthday Person, there's almost an unwritten contract for the party hosts and guests:
"We agree to do unnatural, and potentially inconvenient, behaviors in hopes of delighting the Birthday Person even more. These behaviors may include:
- Telling complete lies to get you out of the house or explain our whereabouts
- Committing to arrive at a designated time
- Standing in complete darkness for several minutes as you make your entrance"
Maximize the person's surprise by deciding on some details ahead of time. Trust me that it's muuuuuch harder to make decisions in the heat of the moment and communicate them to your guests. (Did I mention there was sangria at my sister's party? 😀)
My sister and friends
Instead of shouldering all the responsibility for the surprise, enlist others. Guests are happy to help and will be even more invested in the element of surprise if you assign a role to them.
You may not need all of the roles listed above, but I sooo wish we had photos and a complete video of my sister's entry into her own kitchen! Her reaction was priceless!
My sister and some friends she's known since she was 18!
After you've gone through all the effort of planning the surprise party, take a few minutes to determine ideal locations to heighten the surprise and help you capture memories.
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