A Few Words On “Suprise” Parties

Posted by Dave

Let me make two things clear, right from the start: (A.) I really l-o-v-e parties. (B.) I really hate surprise parties. Why?

1. They make every element of party planning harder. The logistics of putting together a successful event are plenty difficult enough, without adding the element of secrecy. Florists, decorators, musicians, and venue representatives are forbidden to phone the host, lest Caller ID spoil the surprise. So, they leave messages on cell phones, or with 3rd parties, only to have their calls returned at times which inevitably result in still more messages being left, and more time wasted.

2. It’s usually not really a surprise. Here’s a news flash: Dad knows he’s turning 40, just as Grammy (if not Poppy) may be aware that their Golden Wedding Anniversary is just around the corner. Most of life’s big events that trigger the thoughts of – “Hey! Let’s throw them a surprise party – are so transparently obvious that there is no surprise, thus negating all the extra work that secrecy entailed.

But – if you are grimly determined to host such an event – how can you do so, without the extra hassle and probable futility of keeping it secret?

First, delegate. Use a party planner or close friend/relative who is available to take the jillion phone calls from guests and vendors. Set the wheels in motion, then back away. (For those who are prone to micro-management, which statistically includes about 99% of people who think Surprise Parties are a good idea, this may be excrutiatingly difficult.)

Secondly, jump the gun. Many moons ago, the lovely Gina Tanner threw a surprise party for my 40th birthday, almost a full year in advance. I can assure you that – for once – the surprise was total. By totally disregarding the actual date, she was able to get everybody where they were supposed to be, and my antennae never picked up a clue. (Which is kind of scary to a control freak like me.)

So, it can be done. The question is, should it? And the answer to that depends largely on the personality of the victim-of-honor. I will never forget an episode of the old TV show, This Is Your Life, which was – essentially – a nationally broadcast surprise party every week. When host Ralph Edwards sprung the surprise, that episode’s honoree promptly slugged him, then stormed off. And that was a surprise to remember!


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