How to throw a surprise party - tips & tricks

January 31, 2021

While it seems like a relatively simple task, planning a surprise party can turn into an exciting spy movie. The hardest part is certainly making sure you keep it a surprise. This means that every step you take needs to be carefully planned. You need to map and carefully time each and every step. Furthermore, developing a reliable method of communication with your coconspirator will ensure that everything goes to plan. Throwing in a specially developed language or at least some code phrases would get you in the espionage wonderland. 

You need to give people the bare minimum notice and information as you do not want someone to give the info away. Little details can help you successfully throw not just an incredible party, but an incredible surprise. Plan every single thing, carefully consider your venue, keeping in mind that guests need to hide, and that you need a great cover story to get the guest of honor to the venue without suspicion. 

We have already written about how to organize a great party, but this time we bring you a few things needed to organize the best possible surprise party.

Scout ahead

Everyone loves parties. But certain people don't like surprises. They like to know things in advance and be prepared. So first thing first, you have to ask yourself if the person you want to prepare a surprise party is the right candidate for it. If a person is shy and doesn’t like to be the center of attention, or is an introvert, doesn’t like a fuss, and has previously mentioned that he doesn’t like the idea of a surprise party, you need to change your plan. In that case, don’t give up on the party, but let the guest of honor know your plans. That way you will be able to plan the party together.

You have to ask yourself if the person you want to prepare a surprise party is the right candidate for it

Luckily, most people like surprises. People like to feel honored and happy when someone makes an effort around them. So, your first task is to do some snooping around. When you are convinced that your loved one is not planning to celebrate or organize a party, you need to find out what other plans he or she has for that day. Investigate if the one to be surprised is going somewhere, or plans to stay at home.

Of course, the point of a surprise party is to be secretive, but that doesn’t mean you have to pretend you completely forgot about the occasion to celebrate. This could lead to disappointment for the person, and you don’t want that at all. It is best to let the person know that you are aware a special occasion is coming and live like everything is at its usual pace.

Choose the date and time wisely

Remember that your guest of honor, just like their friends, must be available on the date you picked to celebrate and that they mustn't  have anything else planned out. The surprise could be even bigger if you throw a surprise party a day before the occasion itself. 

Holding a party on the exact date could prove to be a little tricky to turn into a great party, as your honoree will probably expect something, maybe even invite a couple of the closest people to a cocktail party or two at the last minute. That would make your life difficult as you would need to coordinate even more. Avoid throwing a party after the special day because if they think you forgot, that could take them into a bad mood.

Find a secret location

You need to be close to the person you are preparing a surprise party for, so you know their preferences and where they will feel most comfortable. With that in mind, decide where you want the surprise to take place. Should you do it in your house, honorees house, outdoors, a park, a picnic surprise party, a concert, a restaurant or a bar.

If you decide not to hold a party at your own house, be sure to make a reservation in advance and book a venue for about an hour before the party should get started. Feel free to check for the best venues on the Spotfood app. Spotfood connects you with local vendors to provide services for your event such as catering, photography, decorations, venue hire and more.

Don’t forget to talk to the management and let them know that this is a surprise party so that everyone is involved and knows what will happen.

Invite the guests discreetly

Make sure to invite all the family and friends that the celebrant would normally invite to a party. Create and send secret online invitations. Just select the party design, customize it with your details, all relevant information and click send. Or call each one and let them know it’s a surprise party. Avoid sending classic paper invitations, not to leave any visible evidence. The more people you invite, the harder it will be to keep it a secret so be very careful. Mention it's a surprise party a few times and it must be a secret. 

Make sure to invite all the family and friends that the celebrant would normally invite to a party

Timing is everything. Be sure to remind guests to arrive at the agreed location at least half an hour early, so that everything is ready on time. That way, even if someone is late, it won’t ruin the surprise. Another idea - let every attendee get the Spotfood and you can do all the communication in the app.

Time to thematize

A surprise party is in itself a big surprise, but determining a fun and unique theme is an easy way to make your party memorable. You need to customize everything to that theme, crazy outfits, invitations, music, food and drinks, decorations, and activities. And the theme can be anything, just keep in mind the surprisee's favorite hobby, interests or activities, as it is a party in his/her honor.

Defining and customizing a theme on the one hand can be challenging as your guest of honor does not know what's going on and will come unprepared. Choosing not having a theme will make the party planning logistics easier and the celebrant less suspicious and more likely to fit in. Maybe your surprise itself will be more than enough for your party-person.

Hide the decorations

Whatever you decide about what kind of party you want, you can’t throw a surprise party without festive and fun decorations. But keep in mind that this is a surprise party, so decorate just inside the venue and make sure that is not visible from the outside so that the surprisee does not suspect anything. Hang a bunch of balloons, hanging decorations, lights, and candles for a wow effect.

Don't forget to put a photo booth in one part of the room. You can also decorate it with balloons, flowers and decorative lamps. You can place a box full of simple props - goofy glasses, hats, tiaras - to make people have fun, laugh, and take photos to remember.

Even a secret party needs food and drinks

No party is a party without food and drinks. Whether you decide to host a party menu all by yourself or hire a caterer, or even combine those two, don’t wait for the last minute. If your surprise party does not take place in a restaurant or bar, the simplest way will be to order catering. That way, you won't have to worry about hiding, transporting, and being able to cover your secret plan. You can order everything from the honoree’s favorite restaurant or even book a private bartender for cocktails. And don't forget the cake! As we said before, Spotfood can make all of this much easier for you.

Plan a fake event or a distraction

Now that you have done all the pre-party planning and put all of the work to keep everything a secret, you need to lure the honoree to the location where the party is. Try to act as naturally as possible so that the surprisee doesn’t suspect anything. You can tell them that you are taking them for a drink or a nice meal to celebrate quietly, or invite them over to watch a movie. The best thing is that the celebrant has no idea you’re actually taking him to a surprise party.

The crucial detail is to choose a person of trust who will coordinate the surprise party while you are with the guest of honor

This way you will achieve that the celebrant is dressed and “ready” for the event. Imagine how embarrassing it would be for them to come in gym clothes to the party where everyone is prepared and nicely dressed. You want them to enjoy the party and feel their best in front of friends and family, not to feel strange. You can remind guests not to overdo it with evening gowns. You can tell them to dress similarly.

The crucial detail is to choose a person of trust who will coordinate the surprise party while you are with the guest of honor. You will not be available for a few hours, so during that time someone must make sure that the last moments pass in the best order.


While some people like the classic turning off the lights, hiding and shouting “surprise”, for someone that seems shabby. Whatever you decide, there’s always room for more creativity. The only thing that matters is that you know what the surprisee likes more.

These special events must not pass without amazing photos. has a cool idea to buy lots of disposable cameras and disperse them around. Give them to as many guests as possible so that when the surprise moment comes along, they can all take a picture from their place. That way you have the surprise moment photographed from all of directions and point of views.

Another option is to hire a professional photographer. Having a professional photographer ensures that this special moment will be captured in high-resolution photos that aren't blurry. Spotfood is an app that can help you hire a professional photographer for your event simply and affordably. Just type in your event details and quotes from available photographers will start coming your way.

Surprise party troubleshooting

The biggest problem faced by people planning a surprise party is that the guest of honor finds out the big surprise. If this happens, we suggest to consider doing one of two things: ask the person to act surprised or rework the party for another date to keep it a surprise. A back-up plan is always an excellent idea.