Throwing a surprise party is a great way of celebrating a special occasion or event with an extra special twist. However, like all parties, there is an element of planning involved. From inviting and organising guests, the theme and the dress code to the venue, catering and entertainment, there is a lot to think about.


Before you get stuck in with any form of party planning, the first thing that you need to establish is if your friend or loved one will actually want a surprise birthday party. It’s all well and good planning a surprise birthday party, but some people really don’t like surprises or parties for that, so if you’re unsure, get some ideas from others that are close to the person you are planning the party for before making any plans.


So you’ve confirmed it. Your friend, colleague, family member or loved one is going to love walking through the door to see the faces of their friends and loved ones to celebrate their special occasion. Let the party planning commence!

Planning a surprise party

1 – Check the date

It may sound fairly obvious, but the first thing on your to-do list is to organise a date for the surprise party. Whether it’s work commitments or pre-organised social events, the last thing you’re going to want to do is double book the person that you are surprising.


2 – Make a ‘fake plan’

Once you have found a subtle way of finding a date that is free in the person that you are surprising’s calendar, it’s time to set up the ‘fake plan’. If the party you’re planning to throw is to celebrate a special birthday or leaving party, it’s important that you don’t leave your surprisee feeling as though you’ve forgotten about the special day.

Creating a ‘fake plan’ will not only create a distraction from the person that you are planning to surprise but it will also add to the element of surprise. Whether you plan a fake meal with the family, drinks in their favourite bar or a night on the town with friends, the fake plan should not leave them disappointed.


3 – Book the venue

Choosing the right venue is an essential part of surprise party planning. You’ll need to find somewhere that accommodates the number and needs of guests that you are looking to invite.

There’s no point in booking a party venue that’s located an hour away that will cost guests a small fortune in taxi fees. Choose somewhere local that guests will find easy to get to.


4 – Create the guest list

Once you have booked your venue, your planning is well underway. It’s time to start inviting those all important guests. After all, what is a surprise birthday party if the room is not full of people that you love? As the party planner, it is essential that you ensure that your surprisee’s most important friends and loved ones are invited.  Make a good old fashioned list and you can’t go wrong. You will also need to consider plus ones. Many people will want to bring their partner or other plus ones, particularly guests who may not know other guests, so make sure that you factor these people within your numbers.

Be careful not to exceed your venue’s capacity limits, but do expect that not everyone you invite will be able to attend. Once you think the guest list is ready, ask another friend or family that is close to the person that you wish to surprise to cast an eye over the list to avoid the embarrassment of forgetting someone!


5 – Send out the invites

Facebook has become a popular method of bringing people together for events. If you’ve not done this before, then here’s the simple and easy way of creating a private group where you can invite the guests.


  1. On the top blue bar, click ‘Create’
  2. Click ‘Event’ and a box will appear
  3. Ensure at the top left of the box, the event is set to ‘Create Private Event’ (If the event is set to ‘Public Event’ your surprise birthday will no longer be a surprise!)
  4. Add the event name, location and time of the event
  5. If you don’t want guests to be able to invite other’s, make sure that you un-tick the ‘Guest can invite other guests’ box
  6. You will then be taken to a page where you can invite guests
  7. Share party planning updates by creating posts.


If you prefer something a little more traditional, websites such as Canva and Evite are great online tools for creating your own personalised invitations free of charge. These can be sent via post or email.


7 – Dress code

Firstly, decide if you are theming the party with fancy dress, or not. If you decide that you are going for the fancy dress option, ensure it’s something that your surprisee will like! Be sure to arrange their outfit plenty in advanced and inform guests of what the surprisee will be wearing to avoid an outfit clash!

For some, a fancy dress just isn’t their thing. If your surprisee is not really into fancy dress, avoiding it altogether is probably your best option. Instead, choose a dress code that your surprisee would feel most comfortable in. For example, if they love to dress up then ensure the outfit fits accordingly.  Factor the dress code into your ‘fake plan’ – that way you avoid having to source the outfit yourself (which can always be a little risky…), as your surprisee will have chosen an outfit that matches the dress code accordingly. Finally, ensure that you inform your guests of the dress code. Failing to do so could leave your surprisee feeling out of place if guests attire is different from theirs

Guest list

8 – Food and drink

It’s always a good idea to provide food at a party, however, if you are trying to organise a party on a budget, this is something that can become very expensive very quickly. Before rushing to the shops or making an online order, check if the venue can offer catering. This will save you lots of time and can be a particularly cost-effective way of catering.

If your venue doesn’t cater, you can go for the DIY option. Sandwiches, sausage rolls, cocktail sausages and cheese and pineapple are your traditional party food go-to that can be sourced from your local supermarket. If your surprisee is a real foodie and you’re feeling up for a challenge, there are some pretty innovative party foods out there that look and taste great at parties. From cakes made from cheese to nacho stuffed potato skins, mini burger bites a chocolate fondant, do some research and get your creative skills on. The wonderful internet world that is Pinterest is often a great place to start if you’re struggling to pull together ideas.

When it comes to drink, choosing a venue with a bar such as Southern Parishes Conservative Club in Hedge End is always particularly helpful. It means that you don’t have to fork out on buying alcohol and cups and instead, guests can buy drinks of their own choice on their own accord. If you have a number of guests that have a preference of drink, for example, you may know that quite a few gin drinkers will be attending, let the venue know in advance so that they can ensure that they are fully stocked for your booking.

party food

9 – Decorations and entertainment

You are very nearly there in planning a surprise party! The final thing to think about is decorations. Of course, if you opt for the themed option, decorations that match the theme are going to be important.

If not, balloons and banners make a great touch. Try to work towards a colour scheme that your surprisee would like. Balloons can be ordered online, but don’t forget if you want the floating balloon effect you are going to need helium! Helium can be bought from shops such as Tesco, The Card Factory and The Range. Be sure to buy plenty of helium in advanced as running out on the day may cause unnecessary stress!

Much like the food, if you’re looking to do something different and innovative with your party decor, Pinterest is a great place to start. However, it is worth bearing in mind that sometimes less is more.

Have you considered a DJ? Be sure to book a DJ plenty of time in advance before your party.

party decorations

10 – Surprise!

The day is here! The planning is complete and you can finally relax! There is just one more thing… THE SURPRISE! As your surprisee steps through the door to see their guests, their face is going to be a picture! Make sure that you capture that moment on camera! Take a few snaps so that your surprisee has a few photos to look back on.


In need of a venue for a surprise birthday party? Southern Parishes Conservative Club in Hedge End could be just what you’re looking for. With a fully functioning bar, dance floor, outside space and catering available, we are the ideal spot for a variety of functions and events. Venue hire is free, all we ask for is a £100 deposit on booking. Find out more or get in contact.

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