Top tips for planning a surprise party

Hello huns

So I can let the cat out of the bag now, for months myself and my dad have been planning a surprise 50th birthday party for my mum. Although I’m not going to lie it was a lot of hard work, a lot more than I was expecting but I really wanted to do something lovely for my mum who does so much for other people. It was definitely worth it to see the look on her face when she arrived.

I also have filmed a video about a planning a surprise party and some of the surprise party on my Youtube Channel – Mummywho -> Check it out here!

(Up on my channel on Tuesday 24th July)

If you wanted to plan a surprise party for someone you love or anyone here are my top tips for planning one.

FYI there were some errors with the photos for this post. I had a lovely friend who was our official photographer for the night and she does work in another job full time too. So I wasn’t able to get the photos yet of the night from her so these are a few I took myself.

#1 Start planning it 9 months – 1 year in advance

This may seem like a crazy amount of time to plan just a party but this give you time to get dates sorted in your head with any key players who need to know and rope in extra hands. You can also start jotting down ideas for the party and dates when things need to be done by.

We knew we wanted the party in June 2018 as my mums birthday is in July but she would have be on holiday then. We also were originally going to have it at the end of June, however other family members started having weddings/other birthdays on those dates so it gave us wiggle room.

This also allowed us time to ask the venue on their availability on our selected dates and when we did book entertainment we did the same. Luckily everyone had availability!

#2 Be flexible if possible with dates

Like I said we had to change dates later down the planning line due to other family commitments but this was OK as we hadn’t told anyone the dates yet. It also gives you chance to get what you want out of the party.

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#3 Make a private party planning Pinterest board

I would have been lost without my Pinterest board. It gave me so many great ideas on themes, personal touches and things to do for the party. Make sure you make it private so the main party person can’t see what you are pinning.

I searched for keywords including “party” “surprise party” “party ideas” and also “wedding” give you ideas.


#4 Make a list of possible people who will attend if you can so you will have a rough number of people attending

So you may not know everyone personally the guest of honour/party person may want to to invite. So you may need to be sneaky in how you get their contact details and/or addresses. I did this by getting onto my mum’s phone when I was at her house and taking photos on my phone of her contacts in her phone book, people she was speaking to on facebook messenger, WhatsApp and texting. I also borrowed her address book because my mum is old fashioned in that respect but it was super helpful as I don’t know how anyone would find my friends addresses.

I contacted her friends via text/email and facebook to let them know I was planning a surprise party and most of them were more than helpful! This gave me a rough idea on numbers for the party so I could let the venue know.

#5 Book venues/entertainment ASAP

You’d be surprised how venues and entertainment get booked up far in advance so once you know your figures and dates book what entertainment and your venue. You may need to put a deposit down.

We booked a sailing club that was local and a cayleigh band as my mum loves dancing.

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#6 Private WhatsApp group/messaging group with a code name – make sure it’s on silent mode.

To communicate with anyone helping organise the surprise party, a group chat is always helpful! Although make sure you put it on silent mode.. something we learnt early on in the process.

#7 If possible keep all party information/items away from the person

You are going to need somewhere to store decorations/party invites and so you are going to need a place where the key person isn’t going to find these.

We were lucky as I don’t live with my mum so all party information/items went through me but if this is not the case with you I suggest storing it at a friend or relatives house.

#8 Send Save the date invites/ make a facebook event 6 months in advance

Sending save the date invites tells people there is going to be an event and makes sure people marks the date off in their diaries/calenders so there are no clashes. Some people will still not come but you don’t want them there anyway. Stinky poos.

I found it really hard to find save the dates that weren’t wedding related or found children’s parties. These were the ones I used but since then I’ve seen good resources on Canva that you can make yourself.

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#9 Come up with a good reason why the birthday person needs to be free the night of the party, needs to be looking good etc

The guest of honour/main party person needs to be free on the night to attend their own party. You need a good reason to get them to the venue so think of one! We told my mum she was going for a posh meal for her wedding anniversary then on the night my dad diverted to the party.

#10 Send Invites with information 3 months in advance

So once you have all the addresses and names of the people you want to sent the invites too and you think you know the information you need, send out the invites. I suggest 3 months in advance gives people enough time to RSVP back to you and allows them to book hotels if they haven’t already.

I made my invite on Microsoft word as it was affordable and got it printed at Office Outlet but I’m sure there are lots of printing places that will do it too.

#11 Ask people to confirm by texting or emailing – saves birthday person getting a call to them.

I placed on the invite my mobile phone number and email addressed and then asked people to reply by a certain date. OF COURSE some stupid pea heads didn’t reply at all or didn’t RSVP on time (some just didn’t show up… but that’s another story). It saves postage and also time, if they only have to send a quick text

#12 Use a colour scheme for the party – use this as a base when ordering decorations

Picking a colour scheme will help the look and feel of the party (like I’m an expert) but it will also help you in the long run. When I was looking for ideas on Pinterest it was really useful to have a colour scheme as a lot of the ideas went with my colour scheme. I chose pink, gold and white as they felt #classy.

#13 Pick a theme around food if making it yourself.

To make your life a hell of a lot easier pick a theme for food such as curry, Thai, Chinese or finger food. Obviously I’m giving advice and not sticking to it, as I mixed and matched a lot of themes. We served curry, pizza and sandwiches but I just couldn’t decide! In the long run it was a lot cheaper to make the food ourselves but extremely stressful so it depends what you want to do.

#14 Make decorations/food in advance if possible

Of course there are some things you can do to save yourself time and not make yourself stress like me. You can have an amazon prime account (they do a 1 month free trial just saying) and order the decorations in advance, doing anything you can before the day. I also made some food before the day so I made the cake a few days before, we made the curry and puddings the day before and then the other food bits a couple of hours before.


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#15 Add personal touches

I mean the honoured guest is going to be uber happy that you have thrown them a surprise party but having personal touches will just show you have gone the extra mile. If you need a few ideas then for my mum we had photos going back to when she was a baby hung around from fairy lights across the room, I had a bowls of her favourite sweets on the table and some unicorn bits and bobs as she is obsessed with unicorns.

#16 Spotify Playlist

Does anyone hire a DJ anymore when Spotify exists? I created a Spotify playlist to play when the band weren’t playing and it went down really well. I recommend having a premium account so you don’t have to listen to adverts and also downloading your playlist just incase there isn’t access to the internet.

If you need inspiration for your playlist, I recommend searching wedding party playlists.

#17 Bring spares on the night

You can guarantee at least one thing will go wrong on the night, whether it be a rip in your dress or someone forgot the camera. I made sure we had extra candles, batteries for the camera, tape to hang decorations up etc.

So I hope you enjoyed this little guide! I’ve included a few photos throughout of the night and we were very lucky to have my friend as the photographer for the night!

Also remember to enjoy yourselves!


Kate xx

Remember to watch the Youtube Video for more tips


Posted by

I'm Kate, a 25 year old going on 40 Northerner and a new mum to baby Pip. I also love taking pictures of my food, singing along to musicals and my dog Ruben. I'm venturing into the unknown world of blogging, so please be kind.

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