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“Surprise Party” Etiquette

Surprise Parties can be fun, but can be difficult to pull off.  If you’re planning one, the hardest part is keeping it a secret.  Like all “conspiracies”, the more people involved in the “plot”, the harder it is to keep it a secret.   First, make sure your guest of honor has a good sense of humor and flexibility, and that everyone you want to be at the party will be available, especially the Guest of Honor. That may be difficult without tipping your victim off.

Some people just don’t like surprises, so it’s best to have a surprise party for someone you know really well, and with friends that can keep a secret, and who also know the guest of honor well enough to carry off their role in the “plot”.

The first task is to inform everyone (except the guest of honor, of course) that you are planning a surprise party. The best way to do that is by email or text. And a preliminary meeting to plan the surprise party will help coordination.  You will also have to think up a diversion while everything is being set up for the party, so ask someone your “victim” knows well  to set up a diversion, while the other guests arrive to at the scene of the crime early. Think of a good “alibi” that can lure the guest of honor to the party without giving it away. Have someone invite the victim to go shopping for out for a drink, and suddenly “remember” that a he has to drop by the “host’s” house to get something or some other plausible excuse to lure the victim to the party.  Or just have you someone suggest “let’s stop off for a drink first” at the restaurant or bar reserved with the guests already waiting for the victim.  Know the habits of your victim and plan accordingly Timing is the trick.

One group rented a movie theatre for the evening to celebrate the retirement of a colleague.  The group shared the cost of renting the theatre, and all the guests arrived early with the food and refreshments. The guest of honor arrived with a “co-conspirator” who  told him they were going to see a movie that evening,  but instead was greeted  with a party in his honor, with home movies and slides of the Guest of Honor’s achievements in a “This is your Life” style celebration,  followed by a “Roast.

The trick is keeping the surprise a surprise. Elaborate and complicated plotting however, runs the risk of being discovered, or completely falling apart by unforeseen events. So make you plans as simple as possible, but not too obvious.

But, don’t let all the secrecy and plotting divert you from the main purpose:  to have a party and a good time!  Once you’ve planned you diversion and how to lure you victim to the scene of the crime, then you have to plan the party itself.  Timing is important. Pick a date that you know everyone will be available, not too far into the future that other issues and events may to derail “the plot”, but with enough time to prepare. The payoff for all the plotting and planning is to see the surprise and joy your Guest of Honor will show for such an effort That’s what makes a surprise party so much more meaningful and enjoyable  for everyone.