Planning a surprise party for your loved one is a rewarding experience -- especially when the festivities go off without a hitch. The simpler the party, the easier it will be to keep the celebration a surprise for the guest of honor. Planning a particularly thoughtful or memorable party also means including elements that celebrate your loved one's personality and tastes, and there are ways to accomplish this without using all the funds in your party budget.
Choose a party location that won't blow the surprise, or make the proper adjustments to keep the celebration a secret. For instance, choose the house of a friend who lives on the other side of town. Or keep the guest of honor away from your house a few days before the party if he visits there often by offering to watch the game at a local sports bar instead of in your living room where you usually enjoy the game, once you've purchased the party food and decorations.
Create a guest list that includes all the friends and loved ones that guest of honor would want at the party. For instance, if you're planning the surprise party for your best friend, the names of your mutual friends, your best friend's siblings and parents and the coworkers she's close to should make the list.
Send invitations to guests two or three weeks before the party. Include specific directions about keeping the party a surprise on the invitation. Ask everyone to RSVP at least a week before the party so you'll have enough food and favors.
Call or place an order at the local bakery to order a cake for the surprise party. Choose a cake in the guest of honor's favorite flavor or a dessert that is shaped like the digits in your loved one's age. A birthday cake that speaks to your family members' interest is impressive as well. For instance, a cake in the shape of a purse is ideal for a fashionista is visually appealing.
Go over the guest list a week before the party to see who has responded and send out a group email to remind those that haven't RSVPed to do so and to reinforce that the party is a surprise. This is also a good time to remind guests what time to meet for the event, so everyone can be in place to yell "surprise" when the guest of honor walks in.
Take a few pictures of the guest of honor to the local print shop a few days before the celebration to have them enlarged. These will serve as wall decor at the surprise party, and your loved one can take these one-of-a-kind accents home after the celebration. Pick the finished photos up a day before the party.
Contact a local caterer to supply the food for the surprise party. If it would be more affordable and conducive to your schedule to prepare the food yourself (or with the help of friends), you should do so a day or two before the party. Choose foods the guest of honor prefers, like a taco bar for a fiesta-themed party, or an assortment of cakes, candied apples and mini pies for a dessert-themed surprise party.
Purchase the rest of the decorations for the surprise celebration. Simple decor like oversized balloons, a brightly colored tablecloth and paper lanterns will make the party space festive without your having to spend a fortune. Adorn the space an hour or so before the big event.
Greet all the guests and show everyone their hiding place before your loved one enters the party location. Turn the lights off and stay still and quiet until you hear the guest of honor come in.
Shout "surprise" and enjoy the festivities with your loved one as you spray him with silly string, sprinkle confetti and celebrate with noise makers.