How to Plan the Ultimate Surprise Birthday Party

Birthdays are wonderful opportunities to celebrate the people we love. We are showing them how much we value them, literally celebrating the day they came into the world. But what makes a birthday celebration even more memorable? When it comes in the form of a surprise party. The success of a surprise party lies in the planning and preparation, as well as ensuring everybody has just the right amount of information without revealing the surprise. Here are some handy tips and ideas to help you plan the ultimate surprise birthday party.

Choose a Theme

Parties do not always have themes, but they can be fun for both kids and adults depending on their interests. You could create a theme the party around a favourite TV show, film, book, music, toy or computer game, or a decade like the 1980s or 1990s. Popular options include a Star Wars theme, where guests can attend dressed as their favourite character, a Game of Thrones theme, or a Princess or Mermaid theme for younger children. You can pair the theme with specially designed refreshments (find more information about refreshments below). For example, you could invest in a cake shaped like the Iron Throne if the surprise party is for a significant birthday, such as a 30th birthday. Or, for children, you could create mocktails that tie into the theme. Mermaid mocktails are popular, adding food dye to mix to create blue and green drinks.


At the very least, it is good to have a colour scheme so you can tie decorations together for maximum visual effect. Black and gold will create a glamourous theme, whereas brighter colours, including orange, blue and pink, are ideal for children’s parties. Once the colour scheme is decided, you can then find decorations to place around the venue. Children always love balloons, and you can go one step further by adding a balloon arch to the entrance of the venue and balloons shaped like their favourite character. 

Pick a time and date

Planning a party on their birthday may give the game away, so consider holding it a few days before the date. You also need to ensure that whatever date you choose, the guest of honour is available (and keeps the date free) as well as most of the guests you would like to be there. Opting for a weekend date may be preferable for many guests, but consider those popular venues may be booked for those dates, and they may be more expensive to rent out on the weekend versus a Monday night, for example. Thursday is a great day to plan a night party, but ensure you send invitations out with plenty of time for adult guests to book the next day off work! 

Finalize the Guest List

When deciding how many guests to invite, try to consider what the birthday boy/girl would enjoy. While you might like a busy party with lots of conversation and attention, they may be someone who prefers spending quality time with a few close friends and family members. When inviting guests, be sure to make it clear to them that the event it a surprise, so they should be discreet and RSVP to you only. 

There’s nothing worse than a guest ruining the surprise! If you are renting a venue (more on this below), be aware that there may be a cap on how many guests you can invite. A smaller venue won’t be able to hold as many people as a larger one.  

Decide on the location

When you have an idea of the type and size of party you are organising, you need to decide on a venue. Hosting a small event at home is straightforward, but for a bigger event, you may need to compare local community halls, restaurants, or facilities which hire out rooms for events. 

Depending on the theme of the party, you might want to choose a location to complement it. For example, a spooky Halloween themed birthday party would fit in well with a spooky location, such as an old castle. Of course, booking a castle for a party can be expensive, so assess your budget beforehand! 

Decide on refreshments

Often kids are happy with some slices of pizza followed by mountains of sugary treats, but adults may prefer more savoury options. Of course, whatever age you are catering for, you cannot forget the all-important birthday cake! The cake is another opportunity to bring the theme of the party to life. If you are planning a celebration for an adult who would not appreciate a theme as such, you may want to opt for a more subtle cake design, but you can still make it special with personalised cake toppers

The flavour of the cake is also important to take into account. A classic option is a jam and cream filling with a vanilla sponge. This way, you can be sure most of the guests will like this option. However, you can be more daring and create a rainbow cake, where the sponge inside is a different colour. This is incredibly popular, but it does require baking a number of different sponges, typically five different layers, and adding different food colouring to each. 

You then need to construct the cake by stacking the sponges on top of each other, using icing as the glue to hold all the layers together. The fun part of this cake is the outside is covered in white icing, hiding the surprise inside. It’s a showstopper once the birthday boy or girl cuts into it! 

Plan a distraction

To ensure the party remains a surprise, you should try and keep the guest of honour away from the venue. This may mean taking them out shopping or asking them for some help with something so that you/others can prepare the venue ready for their arrival. It is always nice if the birthday boy or girl is dressed for the occasion, so consider keeping a change of clothes on standby for them.

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