Ideas for Planning a Surprise Party at Home

by Kate Bradley
Plan carefully and you will see that look of genuine surprise.

Plan carefully and you will see that look of genuine surprise.

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The most important part of a surprise party is keeping it a secret until that last, crucial moment. If you're throwing a surprise party at home, it can be difficult to keep it under wraps. However, with clearly worded invitations, simple but creative decor and a bit of logistical ingenuity, you can pull off a successful surprise party at home.

Organize and Prepare the Guests

Send out invitations at least a month before the party. Make it very clear that the party is to be a surprise. Make parking and entry a breeze by including clear directions for each guest on where to park. If there is a parking garage near your house, send a two-hour pass along with the invitation. Insist that guests arrive at least half an hour before the guest of honor is due home. Be clear about the dress code; guests should wear something similar to what the guest of honor will be wearing when he arrives. You could also have guests dress to honor her favorite hobby. If she loves yoga, for example, ask all the guests to wear yoga pants.

Keep Prep and Decor to a Minimum

The guest of honor might suspect something's up if you're cooking or shopping more than usual. Plan to simply move a little furniture around for more space and use your dining room table for the refreshments. Give your home a last-minute festive feel with party hats and noisemakers for the guests. Avoid cooking anything at home. Instead, buy prepackaged food or ask guests to bring a snack or dish to share. If you want to have balloons, give two to each guest as he arrives and ask him to blow them up. Let them float to the ceiling without strings, which could be seen from an outside window.

Honor the Guest of Honor

Ascertain that the guest of honor will actually like the surprise and not be embarrassed or overwhelmed. Make photo lantern centerpieces with flattering photos of the guest of honor. Decorate a large shoe box and cut a slit in the top big enough for an index card. Pass out cards and pens and have each guest write a personal message to the guest of honor. Take the box to her room when everyone has finished. Ask each guest to come armed with a funny anecdote about and/or picture of the guest of honor. Record the stories and put them on a CD and compile the pictures into a collage.

Have Fun

Plan activities that you know the guest of honor will enjoy and can be comfortably held in a home. If he's a wine enthusiast, schedule a wine tasting. Clear space in the living room for dancing if he loves to dance. Invite the guests to bring a bottle of liquor and a favorite mixer and have a cocktail sampling. If he's a trivia buff, play trivia board games or arrange a trivia competition among the guests. Or rent a karaoke machine and let him sing the night away with his closest friends on the back patio or in the garage.

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