Most years I throw my kids’ birthday parties, and I generally enjoy planning them, even when it gets a little stressful. For both of my older girls, I threw them surprise parties when they turned 10. I wanted to make a big deal out of turning double digits, and I can still remember when my mom threw me a surprise party as a kid, so I’m hoping it will be a good memory for them to look back on, too.
I know it can definitely be difficult to plan a surprise party and keep it a surprise, so I wanted to share a few tips I picked up from the couple we’ve done.
The most difficult part of planning a surprise party for me is deciding what to have the birthday kid do while I set up the party. For both of my kids, my sister-in-law baked their cakes, so for my oldest’s party, I asked her if she wanted to help her aunt decorate her birthday cake. She was thrilled about that idea. I took her over there and had her help while we went back and set up the party. I waited until I dropped her off to tell her two siblings that we would be setting up her surprise party because I knew they would spill the beans if they knew beforehand. My sister-in-law brought the birthday girl over when I told her it was all set up and the guests were all here.
I didn’t want to use the same excuse for my middle daughter because I figured that would be a dead giveaway. My mom picked them up and took them to eat and play at a park while I set it up. Her older sister did know it was happening, which made it easy for her to help keep the birthday kid occupied when she got a little antsy about wanting to go home.
Another issue is inviting guests without it getting back to them. With my oldest, it was pretty easy because the friends she wanted at her party were all friends she’d had for years and I was able to just talk to their moms about it. My middle daughter was a little harder because she had made a few new friends that she wanted at her birthday that I hadn’t been able to get the parents’ numbers yet. With her birthday being right before school started, I just emailed her teacher from the year before and asked her to pass on the invitation to the parents of the few friends that we couldn’t reach and it worked out well!
Both of my daughters had several ideas for the themes they wanted for their party, but since the point was to keep the party a secret, it was hard to pinpoint which ideas we would ultimately go with. What I did was tell them that their party would need to be the weekend after it actually was. I just told them that we had something come up on the weekend closest to their birthdays and unfortunately we’d have to push it back. That way they could help me plan all the little details as well as the guest list without giving away the surprise.
My last tip is to not be afraid to adapt the typical “surprise” to fit your child. For example, my oldest could get really emotional when she was TOO surprised or caught off guard, so I put a sign by the door when she walked in that said ‘get ready to party!’ It helped her be prepared for what was around the corner without just straight scaring her. Overall, it was a fun time for all of them and they still talk about it with their friends because their friends had such a fun time waiting to surprise them, too.