Keeping a surprise party an actual surprise is no easy task. But with some clever planning, it can be done. Here's how.
1. Have the party anywhere but where she lives.
Even if you're roommates, it's going to be hard to plan a surprise, literally, right under her nose. Instead, consider throwing the bash at a nearby friend's house, a bar, or a restaurant.
2. But don't have it somewhere suspicious.
If, all of a sudden, you're trying to take your friend to a neighborhood that you guys never go to, she might start catching on to you.
3. Plan it around something the birthday boy usually does.
Does he go to trivia night every Thursday? Consider piggybacking off the event and just have everyone meet up there. If you're not asking him to do anything out of the norm, he'll have no reason to think anything is up.
4. Make sure everyone knows it's a surprise.
You can't get mad at someone for telling the birthday girl that they're excited to celebrate with her if they didn't know it was supposed to be a surprise. Stress it early and stress it often!
5. Don't pretend to forget her birthday.
You might be tempted to just not mention her birthday at all, in order to limit your chances of blowing the surprise. But chances are, you guys have been friends for years. You wouldn't forget her birthday! Ask her what she's doing and make fake plans to hang out with her another time if you're not going to be the person tasked with tricking her to the party. Which brings us to ...
6. Set a point person to bring her to the party.
If the party relies on the guest of honor arriving somewhere at a specific time, put someone (or a small group of someones) in charge of getting her there. Take her to drinks first and then have an iron-clad plan to get to the party location. If she's supposed to get there on her own, she could bail or be super late and then you'll have to tell her what you have planned to woo her there.
7. Plan the party before his birthday.
No one expects anything the week before their birthday. Also, planning the party for after the actual day might look like you forgot to do anything at all!
8. Get people to help you.
You're a party-planning wizard, we know, but you can always use some help. If you're doing too much, you're bound to slip up and do or say something to spoil the surprise.
9. Don't ruin it at the last second.
If you've managed to keep things a secret, there are a few things that can ruin it right before he walks through the door. For example: too many cars parked on the street, lights flickering to hush a crowd, decorations that can be seen from the street, and pre-party posts on social media.
One last thing: Don't sweat it.
Eh, so what if the surprised is ruined? It's still a super-thoughtful thing you've done! And there's still a party to be had — the guest of honor is sure to love it whether she learns to expect it or not.
What extremes have you gone through in order to keep a surprise party an actual surprise?