Your day comes around once a year. Each birthday marks a passage of some sort. One year you’ve entered the terrible twos, at five you begin school, at 12 you may have a Bat Mitzvah, at 13 a Bar Mitzvah, on your Sweet 16 you get to drive, at 18 you can vote, and of course your 21st birthday often leaves you with a hangover. From there on, each decade clicks past with the old adage, “time flies!”
Although there are many ways to celebrate, one of the most exciting is undoubtedly a surprise birthday party. Nonetheless, not everyone is lucky enough to be thrown a surprise celebration by their loved ones. What seems like a very thoughtful and fun idea in the beginning might cause more stress than originally intended if not planned out thoughtfully. Although I may be an experienced event planner now, I have even been an offender of planning a surprise party debacle. Let me share with you my embarrassing story:
I was in high school and my friend, Dana, and I decided to throw a surprise party for our friend, Annie. We rented out a room at a local restaurant to surprise Annie for her Sweet 16. We had everything planned to the last detail (or so we thought). The room was reserved, the invitations were sent, everyone secretly RSVP’d, decorations were bought, the birthday cake was ordered, and we were ready to go.
Before I continue, please think to yourself.. what is the most important part of any celebration? If you thought the guest of honor, you would be correct. Since Dana and I were so busy planning the perfect surprise party, we forgot to invite Annie to a made up event. I thought Dana had already invited Annie to the movies and Dana figured I had a decoy plot in action. So come the day of the party we realized that neither of us had locked down Annie on plans for the night. We immediately asked her if she wanted to hang out and catch a movie. Her reply: “Thank you, but I am already babysitting tonight.” This could have been the worst answer in our situation. Although I felt like our plans were foiled, I chose the proactive route. The first step: contacting her older sister to see if she could cover Annie’s babysitting shift. After a stressful afternoon of trying to get in contact with her sister and having her sister get in contact with the family Annie was babysitting for, we figured it out. Dana and I kidnapped the birthday girl and brought her to the restaurant, while Annie’s sister took over the babysitting. It ended up working out wonderfully, and although Annie had no idea I think I aged five years on her birthday. So when planning a surprise birthday party make no mistake and think it through. Here are some tips that will have the guest of honor in complete awe.
-KEEP THE SECRET! Do not blab, and make sure everyone invited is well aware to keep their lips zipped.
-Choose the venue. Many factors should go into selecting the venue. Make sure that it will be easy for your guests to travel to, and incorporate the venue into your surprise. Many of our clients pretend they are taking the birthday celebrant on a public cruise, and when they walk onto the yacht they are surprised by a private event with their family and friends. We also have clients who pretend they are dragging their significant other to company party, or a coworker’s retirement celebration. Our yacht staff even plays along with the surprise!
-Invite the guests in the most secret way possible. Also, make sure that you have guests arrive earlier then the time the guest of honor will be arriving.
|Awesome nautical stationary for the invites!|
-Start the planning early! It is easier to overcome planning obstacles if you give yourself plenty of time to prepare (unlike my “day of” fiasco for Annie’s party).
-Relay the appropriate dress code to your guests and have the guest of honor dress accordingly. Avoid making the guest of honor feel uncomfortable because everyone is decked out and they are not.
-Food, which is my personal favorite part of any party. Make sure you know some of the guest of honor’s favorite dishes, and be sure to have some at the party. Also, make sure you are aware of any dietary needs or allergies of the attending guests. It is also smart to have appetizers or snacks available for the guests before the birthday celebrant arrives. This way, the guests are not hungry and moody when the guest of honor enters the party a bit late.
-Music. Whether you hire a DJ, band, or play an iPod, make sure you have some of the guest of honor’s favorite jams.
-Assign guests to help with decorations and the setup, as you might be the one bringing the guest of honor.
|Great Centerpiece Idea for Yachts!|
-Birthday cake. Unless the birthday celebrant is not a fan of sweets, don’t forget the cake. This tradition is as standard as fireworks on the Fourth of July.
|Beautiful Ocean Themed Cake|
|Love this nautical themed party!|
-Most importantly…make sure you make up a believable plan for the guest of honor. Hopefully my little experience helped communicate that concept :-).