Contact us
We love to hear from our Plannly community. Reach out with any questions, concerns, or feedback. We’re happy to help.

How To Plan The Perfect Surprise Birthday Party

A surprise birthday party is spontaneous. At least for one person! Planning the ordeal can feel spontaneous as well. It’s likely the birthday person doesn’t expect you to throw the party.  

Surprise birthday parties have an extra element to them that adds a bit of stress. You may feel like the whole thing is ruined if the guest of honor finds out. Don’t let that fear keep you from planning the perfect surprise birthday party. Let’s break this operation down into manageable steps. 

The Sneaky Work

Now, before you head off gung-ho. You need to first do some detective work with the person you’re surprising. This may not be directly with the person, especially if you’re planning this last minute. 

You need to find out what that person likes. What birthdays did they love in the past? Would they enjoy a surprise birthday party? What should the birthday party include? Do they love bonfires? Sushi? Ice cream cake? Whatever it is, you can find out by talking with them or anybody who has celebrated with them in the past. 

Be The Boss

Now, the next few steps will require you to delegate. There’s no reason you need to do everything yourself. Find a team who can be sneaky with you. You can do more if you get more people involved. The whole party will come together nicely and with less stress on your part.


The location can be the trickiest part of a surprise party. You have to have somewhere that the birthday person won’t be, to set up. But also somewhere you can get them, without them being suspicious. Use your team to delegate who will be with the birthday person and who will set up before they arrive. 


This is a birthday party. That means the entire party is focused on one person. Any decorations you decide to use, try and think of that guest of honor. What themes do they like? What will make them smile when they walk in? When you have some ideas, talk with your team about them.


Decide on live music vs. a playlist. Again, focus on music that your birthday person likes. Talk with their friends and come up with a plan. Music sets the vibe for the party. Just don’t turn that music on before the cat’s out of the bag. 


The hard thing about a surprise birthday party is you can’t ask the birthday person what they like. You have to come up with the food, music, and decorations all based on what other people say. Or what the birthday person has said in the past. 

Get other people involved with the menu. You may have the food decided if the location is at a restaurant. A house party would need more delegating. You can also get food from their favorite restaurant and bring it to the house or venue. The food is arguably the most important part! 

Share (Enough) With The Birthday Person

You don’t want to have the guest of honor show up in sweat pants because they didn’t know what was going on. You need to make sure they are thinking they are at least going somewhere to look their best. 

Maybe they know they are going to a restaurant but just with one person. Maybe they think they are going shopping with you. Let them know you’re going to dress up and take selfies. Just something to give them a heads up. They’re the most important person and you need to make sure they’re comfortable at their party! 


Now, you need to collect emails or phone numbers. This is harder again since you have to do it secretly. Ask the birthday person's closest friend or relative for a list of contacts. 

Plannly makes invitations easy. You get the information in a shareable link and get confirmed RSVPs in the Plannly app. When given permission - it’s pretty easy for someone else to share your Plannly link  and this really well for surprise birthday parties. 

Plannly also sends out a reminder to everyone! Surprise birthday parties are (understandably) talked about less in person. So, that reminder is crucial. 

Okay, are you ready to get to work? Surprise parties are the kind of memories you never forget. There’s usually something to laugh about in the mix as well.