How to Throw a Surprise Party – The Ultimate Guide

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Welcome to our complete and ultimate guide on how to throw a surprise party. This a party that is an awesome idea for pretty much any occasion. This could be a birthday surprise party or any other occasion you could think of. Here we will look at everything you will need including the likes of party decorations, food, games, favors and other party supplies.

How to Throw a Surprise Party – The Ultimate Guide

How to Throw a Surprise Party - The Ultimate Guide - Decorations - Supplies - Food - Drink - Games - Ideas - Inspiration

What is a Surprise Party Party

A surprise party party, as the name suggests, is a celebration thrown for someone in secret, with the goal of shocking and delighting them upon their arrival. It’s all about creating a memorable and joyous occasion filled with the people they love most, all gathered under the guise of something else entirely.

Surprise Party Decorations

When you throw a surprise party the first thing to consider is the party decoration. Here are ideas to get you started.


  • Use a mix of helium and regular balloons in the guest of honor’s favorite colors.
  • Create balloon bouquets and arrange them throughout the venue.
  • Spell out a celebratory message using balloon letters.


Streamers and Banners:

  • Hang colorful streamers across the walls and ceilings.
  • Use banners to display messages like “Surprise!” or “Happy Birthday.”


Photo Collage Wall:

Create a photo collage with pictures of the guest of honor throughout the years.

Hang the collage as a focal point or create a designated area for it.

Themed Decor:

  • Choose a theme based on the guest of honor’s interests and decorate accordingly (e.g., beach, vintage, Hollywood).
  • Use themed props and decorations to enhance the atmosphere.

Entrance Decor:

  • Decorate the entrance with a balloon arch or a personalized welcome sign.
  • Hang a curtain of streamers or twinkling lights for a magical entrance.


Table Centerpieces:

  • Use themed centerpieces or simple arrangements of flowers in the guest of honor’s favorite colors.
  • Scatter confetti or small decorative items on the tables.



  • Install fairy lights or string lights to create a warm and inviting ambiance.
  • Consider using colored light bulbs to add a playful touch.



  • Place signs directing guests to the party area.
  • Create signs with humorous or celebratory messages.


Personalized Items:

  • Use personalized banners, napkins, and cups with the guest of honor’s name and age (if applicable).
  • Display a custom-made cake topper with a special message or theme.

Ceiling Decor:

  • Hang hanging decorations from the ceiling, such as paper lanterns or tissue paper pom-poms.
  • Create a “floating” effect with helium balloons attached to strings.


Table Linens:

  • Choose tablecloths and napkins in coordinating colors.
  • Consider using themed or patterned linens to match the party theme.


Backdrop for Photos:

  • Set up a designated area with a backdrop for taking photos.
  • Include props like hats, boas, and signs for added fun.



  • Use candles or LED candles for a soft and romantic glow.
  • Place them strategically on tables or as part of the overall decor.


Surprise Party Food

The next thing to consider when you throw a surprise party is the food. Here are some simple ideas to get you started.

  1. Finger Foods:
    • Mini sliders or small sandwiches
    • Stuffed mushrooms
    • Chicken skewers or mini kebabs
    • Caprese skewers with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil
  2. Dips and Salsas:
    • Guacamole with tortilla chips
    • Salsa and sour cream with vegetable sticks
    • Spinach and artichoke dip with pita chips
    • Hummus with sliced cucumbers and carrots
  3. Cheese and Charcuterie Board:
    • Assortment of cheeses (cheddar, brie, gouda)
    • Cured meats (prosciutto, salami)
    • Crackers and bread
    • Nuts and dried fruits
  4. Bite-Sized Savory Pastries:
    • Mini quiches
    • Puff pastry bites with various fillings
    • Sausage rolls
  5. Vegetarian Options:
    • Veggie spring rolls with dipping sauce
    • Stuffed grape leaves
    • Bruschetta with tomato and basil
  6. Seafood Delights:
    • Shrimp cocktail
    • Crab cakes
    • Smoked salmon on cucumber rounds
  7. Sweet Treats:
    • Cupcakes with themed decorations
    • Cake pops
    • Mini fruit tarts
    • Chocolate-covered strawberries
  8. Candy Buffet:
    • Create a candy station with jars of assorted candies for guests to fill bags or containers.
  9. Mocktails and Drinks:
    • Create a signature mocktail for the guest of honor
    • Fruit-infused water or lemonade
    • Sparkling fruit punch
  10. Popcorn Bar:
    • Provide plain popcorn and various seasonings for guests to customize their popcorn experience.
  11. Themed Cake or Desserts:
    • Order or make a cake that reflects the guest of honor’s interests or hobbies.
  12. DIY Taco or Nacho Bar:
    • Set up a station with tortillas, taco shells, various toppings, and salsas.
  13. Sushi Platter:
    • Offer a selection of sushi rolls for a unique and elegant touch.

Check out this range of party tableware by clicking here.

Surprise Party Games

When you throw a surprise party do not forget the entertainment. Here are some ideas for games you could offer your guests at a surprise birthday party.

  1. Guess the Guest:
    • Have a slideshow or poster with pictures of the guest of honor at different stages of their life. Guests can guess the age in each photo.
  2. Memory Lane Scavenger Hunt:
    • Create a scavenger hunt with clues related to the guest of honor’s life events and memories. Each clue leads to a significant location or object related to them.
  3. Celebrity Match-Up:
    • Create a game where guests match baby pictures of famous celebrities to their adult counterparts. You can include a few pictures of the guest of honor too!
  4. Who Knows the Guest Best?:
    • Prepare a list of questions about the guest of honor and have guests write down their answers. Compare the responses to see who knows the guest best.
  5. Mystery Box:
    • Place small items related to the guest of honor in sealed boxes. Blindfolded guests can feel the items and try to guess what each one represents.
  6. Musical Chairs with a Twist:
    • Play musical chairs with a playlist of the guest of honor’s favorite songs. When the music stops, instead of removing a chair, remove a personal item related to the guest.
  7. Two Truths and a Lie:
    • Have guests come up with two true statements and one false statement about the guest of honor. Others can then guess which statement is the lie.
  8. Personalized Bingo:
    • Create bingo cards with significant events, hobbies, or favorite things related to the guest of honor. As these are mentioned during the party, guests can mark them off.
  9. Charades:
    • Customize charades by choosing words or phrases related to the guest of honor’s life. It adds a personal touch to the classic game.
  10. Timeline Trivia:
    • Develop a timeline of the guest of honor’s life and prepare trivia questions about key events. Guests can answer the questions, and the one with the most correct answers wins.
  11. Customized Pictionary:
    • Use Pictionary, but with custom words or phrases related to the guest of honor. It can be memories, inside jokes, or their favorite things.

Surprise Party Music

Setting the right musical tone for a surprise party involves a mix of energetic and celebratory tunes. Here’s a playlist that spans different genres and eras to keep the surprise party atmosphere lively:

  1. Upbeat Pop Hits:
    • “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
    • “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” by Justin Timberlake
    • “Shut Up and Dance” by WALK THE MOON
  2. Dance and Electronic Vibes:
    • “Wake Me Up” by Avicii
    • “On the Floor” by Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull
    • “Don’t Stop the Party” by Pitbull ft. TJR
  3. Classic Party Anthems:
    • “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang
    • “Dancing Queen” by ABBA
    • “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge
  4. Throwback Pop-Rock Hits:
    • “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi
    • “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins
    • “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey
  5. Top 40 Party Hits:
    • “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
    • “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran
    • “Dance Monkey” by Tones and I
  6. Retro Funk and Soul:
    • “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
    • “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5
    • “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry
  7. Latin Party Tracks:
    • “Dákiti” by Bad Bunny, Jhay Cortez
    • “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony
    • “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias ft. Gente de Zona
  8. Indie-Pop Celebrations:
    • “Shake It Out” by Florence + The Machine
    • “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + The Machine
    • “Take a Walk” by Passion Pit
  9. Hip-Hop Party Anthems:
    • “Party Up (Up In Here)” by DMX
    • “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It” by Will Smith
    • “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  10. Rocking Classics:
    • “Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses
    • “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles
    • “Start Me Up” by The Rolling Stones
  11. Current Chart-Toppers:
    • “Levitating” by Dua Lipa ft. DaBaby
    • “Good 4 U” by Olivia Rodrigo
    • “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” by Lil Nas X
  12. Pop-Punk Party Hits:
    • “All the Small Things” by Blink-182
    • “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” by Fall Out Boy
    • “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” by Panic! At The Disco
  13. Funky Disco Grooves:
    • “Dancing Machine” by The Jackson 5
    • “Stayin’ Alive” by Bee Gees
    • “Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind & Fire
  14. Energetic Indie-Rock Jams:
    • “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand
    • “Electric Feel” by MGMT
    • “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People

Remember to tailor the playlist to the preferences of the guest of honor and the attendees. The goal is to create an exciting and dynamic musical backdrop that enhances the surprise party experience.

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Surprise Party Favors

Finally, when you throw a surprise party you will undoubtedly want to say a big, sincere thank you to all the guests. Here are some ideas for party favors.

Customized Thank You Notes: Create personalized thank-you notes that express your gratitude for their presence at the surprise party.


Mini Photo Albums: Fill small photo albums with pictures of the guest of honor and the attendees from the party.

Candles: Elegant scented or decorative candles make for thoughtful and useful party favors.


Customized Keychains: Design keychains that include the date and a special message related to the surprise party.


Mini Succulents or Potted Plants: Give guests a small potted plant or succulent as a living and decorative reminder of the celebration.

Personalized Cookies or Cupcakes: Have cookies or cupcakes made with a custom design or the theme of the surprise party.

Customized Mugs: Create mugs with a design that reflects the party theme or includes a heartfelt message.


Reusable Tote Bags: Provide eco-friendly tote bags with a surprise party logo or design.


Engraved or Personalized Glassware: Give guests glasses, mugs, or wine glasses with the event date and a special message engraved.


Customized Candy Bags: Fill small bags with candies or chocolates and attach a custom tag with a thank-you message.


Mini Champagne Bottles: Celebrate with mini bottles of champagne or sparkling cider, personalized with a thank-you tag.


Scented Soaps or Bath Bombs: Offer guests scented soaps or bath bombs for a relaxing and pampering experience.


Customized Magnets: Design magnets featuring photos or artwork related to the surprise party.


Pocket-sized Notebooks: Provide small notebooks with a surprise party logo or theme for jotting down memories.


Handmade Crafts: Create DIY crafts, such as homemade candles, soap, or painted items, for a unique and personal touch.

Tea or Coffee Packets: Put together packets of gourmet tea or coffee for a delightful treat.

Personalized Hand Sanitizer: In the current climate, personalized hand sanitizers with a thank-you message can be practical and appreciated.


Miniature Plants in Decorative Pots: Gift small plants like ferns or herbs in decorative pots for a touch of nature.

Customized Playing Cards: Design a set of playing cards with the party theme or pictures of the guest of honor.


Bookmarks: Create bookmarks with a surprise party theme, complete with a heartfelt message.


What to Wear to a Surprise Party

Here are some ideas for what you could wear to a surprise party.

  1. Casual Surprise Party:
    • Women: A cute sundress, jeans with a stylish top, or a casual skirt with a blouse.
    • Men: Khakis or jeans paired with a polo shirt or a casual button-down shirt.
  2. Smart Casual Surprise Party:
    • Women: A stylish blouse with tailored pants or a chic skirt, a casual dress with accessories.
    • Men: Chinos or dress pants with a well-fitted shirt or a polo shirt.
  3. Dressy Surprise Party:
    • Women: A cocktail dress or a dressy blouse paired with a skirt or tailored pants.
    • Men: Dress trousers with a dress shirt or a nice pair of dark jeans with a dressy shirt.
  4. Themed Surprise Party:
    • Consider the theme of the party and dress accordingly. For example, if it’s a costume party, choose an outfit that aligns with the theme.
  5. Outdoor/Daytime Surprise Party:
    • Women: A sundress, casual jumpsuit, or comfortable shorts paired with a stylish top.
    • Men: Shorts or khakis with a short-sleeved shirt or a polo shirt.
  6. Evening Surprise Party:
    • Women: Opt for slightly dressier attire such as a chic dress or a jumpsuit.
    • Men: Stick to dressier options like dress pants and a button-down shirt or a polo shirt.
  7. Accessories:
    • Add accessories to enhance your outfit, such as statement jewelry, a stylish belt, or a nice watch.
  8. Footwear:
    • Choose comfortable yet stylish shoes. Flats, sandals, or stylish sneakers for women, and loafers or dress shoes for men.
  9. Weather Considerations:
    • Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. Bring a layer or jacket if needed, especially for outdoor events.
  10. Avoid Overdressing or Underdressing:
    • If you’re unsure about the formality, it’s better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.


Take a look at more party ideas and article here.

Written by Doc cotton

Doc Cotton is a man of simple pleasures and diverse interests. His heart belongs to the world of cosplay and fancy dress, with a special fondness for Halloween, where his creative spirit truly shines.

When he's not busy crafting imaginative costumes, Doc Cotton loves nothing more than a good party. He's the one who knows how to turn any gathering into a memorable event, infusing it with fun and excitement.

Beyond the world of costumes and festivities, Doc Cotton finds solace and joy in van life and outdoor adventures. Whether he's hitting the open road, camping beneath the stars, or exploring the great outdoors, he cherishes every moment of his outdoor escapades.

You can catch up with Doc Cotton's insights and experiences on his writing platforms, CostumeRocket and HotPartyShack. There, he shares his costume wisdom and event-planning expertise, offering inspiration and tips to fellow enthusiasts.