There is nothing more wonderful than being surprised with a party full of all your favourite people – as long as you’re someone that likes a surprise, that is. But if you’re considering throwing a surprise bash for someone you love, you might be feeling a little daunted at everything you have to do for it, and maybe even a little scared that you’ve forgotten something really important! But never fear – thortful is here, to give you all our helpful tips and tricks to planning an amazing surprise party they’ll remember forever.

Surprise party checklist

Every surprise party has some key elements that, without them, the party cannot be guaranteed to succeed. We have a handy checklist you can use to make sure that whatever happens, you’ve got the basics covered:

  • First things first – put yourself in their shoes. Would they actually hate to be surprised with a loud party of people all looking at them? If the answer is yes, then a surprise party might not be the way to go – maybe opt for organising the party with them and getting a surprise cake or present to give to them on the night instead. 
  • Timing is everything – making sure all of your guests are there before the guest of honour is key, so remember to send your guest of honour a time slot that is at least 30 minutes to one hour later than all of the other guests, to make room for any traffic problems or babysitter issues!
  • If you want everyone to sign a birthday card, make sure you order a birthday card well ahead of time. And if you’re not sure what to say, check out our guide on what to write in a birthday card for a surprise party?
  • Check their Facebook profile to make sure you’ve sent the surprise party invitations to all of your loved one’s favourite people – there’s nothing worse than realising you forgot to invite a favourite aunt or long-lost best friend! Or even worse, inviting their ex when you didn’t know they’d broken up…
  • Ensure you have enough space at your venue, whether it’s your home or a rented space, to accommodate all of your guests – a handy tip here is to also make sure you don’t go too big with the venue, because then it can look as if not many people turned up even if they all do!
  • Sort out a banging playlist or DJ. No party is complete without some funky music to dance to, and a playlist of all their favourite songs is sure to go down well and keep the mood alive long past bedtime.
  • When it comes to food, the most important factor is to have some. Whether you keep it light with just some nibbles and a big cake, or if you opt for a full spread or throwing a BBQ in the garden, food is very important to throwing a good party! 
  • It’s always better to stock up than to be left with not enough! This applies to both food and alcohol – both will always end up getting eaten, either by your guests or their families at home if you have lots left over at the end of the party, so make sure you’ve got plenty to share and everyone will be happy throughout the event. 
  • Interrogate your loved one subtly to find out what they like – colour schemes, decorations, venues, drink choices, it’s all helpful information you can use to create their dream party without them knowing. Try showing them pictures of celebrity events and discussing what you like about them, or even talk about friends’ parties you’ve attended previously and what they thought of those events. 
  • Whatever you do, be very careful during your discussions about the party to not share any information with the guest of honour! Spilling the secret beforehand will ruin weeks of planning and you’ll be pretty gutted that you weren’t more careful!

Planning a surprise party over Zoom

If you’ve got friends and family who live abroad, a surprise party might be a little bit trickier – but luckily for us even if some of our beloved friends and family can’t make it to a party, they can still join in from afar. Our top tips for planning a surprise party that includes video guests include:

  1. Make sure your backdrop looks good – your video guests won’t want to see a drab blank wall behind you, so dress it up with balloons and banners and lots of fairy lights for a magical surprise scene!
  2. Take the time to organise a speech – if you have video guests and in-person guests, they won’t all have time to talk to the guest of honour individually, so having some dedicated time to thanking them for coming and giving them a chance to speak will ensure that none of your video guests feel left out. 
  3. Ensure that everyone has access to food and drink – if some guests can make it to an in-person event, send them a small hamper with drinks, cakes and a card to make sure they feel included and can enjoy a little luxurious hour or two in your online company. 
  4. If you are planning an entire Zoom party where all of your guests, including the guest of honour, are joining from separate laptops, make sure everybody else is in position before adding the guest of honour to the invite list. This way, you’ll all be ready with your ‘Surprise’ cheer when they join! 
  5. It’s also really important to plan events in advance to make sure people in different time zones will definitely be awake for the surprise – and to send out some timely reminders closer to the event to make sure people don’t forget if they’re not attending a physical party.

Surprise party ideas

Here are some of our favourite surprise party ideas, if you’re looking for some inspiration. You could host a surprise luau party with hula skirts and tropical cocktails, for those friends who haven’t been on a foreign holiday in a really long time; or you could make a homemade video of everyone who is attending, and especially those who can’t make it, saying ‘surprise’ and a little message to the guest of honour for a sweet gesture. 

You could also host a more intimate evening with close friends using the lure of a game night, and you can each bring your favourite games and order everyone’s favourite takeaways. There’s even the opportunity to take your surprise party on the road, and rent a limousine or party bus for the night to pick them up straight from their front door without them knowing! There are so many ways you could surprise your nearest and dearest with a wonderful party or night in, and as long as your planning is solid and you’re able to keep it a secret, you should be able to create an experience they’ll never forget!

Make sure you’re completely organised for the big event by getting them one of our hilarious and cheeky personalised cards to hand over once you’ve surprised them. You can even add on a bottle of delicious bubbly or tasty chocolate with our handpicked gifts too, if you’re really looking to impress!