Birthdays are special and should always be celebrated with at least a little fanfare.
But every once in a while it’s fun to throw a surprise birthday bash for someone you love.
The trick to pulling off a truly memorable surprise is simply a little planning. So if you’ve got someone special you’d like to surprise, here are some ideas.
Sarah on “The Benefits of Meticulous Planning”
A very good family friend of ours turned 75. She and her husband have been married for 52 years, and in all that time, he’d never thrown her a surprise party. In fact, in the hustle and bustle of raising six rambunctious boys, the grownups’ birthdays were sort of an afterthought.
Her husband wanted to change all that on her 75th. So, in late March, he started planning for not just one, but two big surprises. First, he wanted to surprise her with a big family barbecue at the house with all of the children and grandchildren present. Then, later that same evening, he wanted to surprise her again with an elegant sit-down dinner with their grown children and their spouses so all could toast and roast her properly.
With enough advance warning, all of the boys were able to co-ordinate schedules and travel arrangements.
The arrivals to the barbecue were carefully co-ordinated for maximum impact. The look on her face when her sons who had moved away showed up on her doorstep looking for a barbecue was priceless. Then, promptly at 4:30 p.m., everybody took off, citing previous engagements.
At 7:30 p.m., the grownups reassembled at a restaurant and greeted her with a rousing “Surprise!” the moment she walked through the door. She thought she was going out for a quiet dinner with her husband. Instead, she walked into a room decorated with pictures of her throughout the years, balloons and beautiful peonies, her favourite flower. Her husband had planned every detail meticulously, and the results were truly unforgettable.
Alicia on “Non-Big Birthdays Are Great for Surprises, Too”
You don’t have to wait until someone hits a major milestone, like the 30th or 50th, to arrange a surprise party. In fact, some of the most incredible parties I’ve been to were surprises on “odd” years — like someone’s 37th. The person being feted often has no expectation of a special celebration and is completely taken aback, which makes it all the more fun for everyone.
Here are a few ideas for planning a surprise party that will knock the socks off someone you love.
1. Pick a Date Carefully — and Well in Advance
Plan way in advance! If you try to pull off a surprise at the last minute, things are bound to go wrong. Important friends may have scheduling conflicts that they can’t get out of or, worse, the person you’re celebrating may, too. The ideal time to throw a surprise party is a few days before or after the birthday. Otherwise, you might be spoiling a quiet dinner, or the birthday person might guess. Once you have the date locked and loaded, send out e-vites to guests — they’re quick to assemble and easy for others to lock into their electronic calendars so they don’t forget.
2. Enlist the Help of Others
The more creative brains you can put toward the big event, the more special it will be. For example, without help, Sarah’s family friend wouldn’t have thought to rent a bouncy castle for the family barbecue to entertain the little kids; it turned out to be the hit of the party.
From selecting the food to decorating the joint, you’ll be glad to have people on hand to help pull it all together and they’ll be glad they get to help do something special to celebrate a friend.
3. Get Creative about Ways to Surprise the Guest of Honor
There are many ways to do this well. All it takes is a little brainstorming, which always goes better if you have others brainstorming with you.
Some ideas to consider: Have a friend invite the guest of honor over for tea or to watch a game, and then surprise her when she shows up.
Another trick is to have one person take the birthday boy or girl out for an errand, and have others set up the house so that upon the person’s returning, the party is ready to go. No matter the ruse, the birthday boy or girl will love being celebrated.
The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more columns, go to scrippsnews.com