Photoshoot anything. Thoughts, stories and tips from Team Perfocal.

Birthdays come and go every year, and naturally many people end up losing their enthusiasm for the celebration as they get older. For many, birthdays are considered just another day, maybe with some extra cake thrown in.

Planning a surprise birthday party for someone who means a lot to you, whether it's a family member or best friend, can help bring the excitement back into having taken another trip around the sun. That means making sure nobody spoils the surprise early and doing everything in your power to make it a truly special occasion. When friends and family come together to make someone feel appreciated, that’s when memories are made.

assorted-color Birthday letter balloon

So, here are our surprise party tips to keep in mind when putting your event together:

The Surprise Party Basics

The basics cover everything to do with planning your surprise party. For instance, what kind of party theme you’d like to have. A themed party can often surprise the party planner on how creative the guests can be. Choosing a theme based on the person’s favourite hobbies is always a good choice, as it shows the surprise-ee that their friends and family are engaging with their interests. Even the absence of a theme is a theme in its own way: a relatively low-key event held in your house that still needs to be properly thought out.

Ensure that all of the food and drink preparations have been made and that decorations have been thoroughly fleshed out and purchased. No party is a part without food, drink and decorations.

After that, you need to get everyone invited and informed. Take extra care in emphasising that it's a surprise party and that they should do everything in their power to keep things a secret. To best accomplish this, make a guest list and tell a small amount of vital people well in advance, but only tell the majority of the guests a few days before the party so they can clear their schedule. Select people on the guest list that are important to the person you’re throwing the party for. Old friends, trusted family members, anyone who you’re sure they’ll smile upon seeing.

Never forget the look on their face with a party photographer! Photos by Perfocal

The Specifics

Next, figure out where you want to have the party and set a date. You’ll have to figure out where you’re going to throw the party. If you’re throwing it at the person’s home, you’ll need to figure out a way to get them out of the house in a way they won’t suspect something is up while still giving yourself enough time to get everything set up and for people to come in and get ready. If you’re inviting a lot of people, consider renting out a hall or other large space and then figure out a good way to lure the guest of honour there afterwards.

If you’re luring the special person to an outside location, the cover story needs to be legitimate and benign. Going for a quiet dinner at a restaurant (that you've rented out for a party) is a great excuse to keep the guest unsuspecting. If you're going to a less commercial venue (such as a hall), consider using the excuse of picking up a table/something you’ve purchased secondhand and need help carrying. If you're having the party at home and need to make preparations, you can send the person in question on a spa-day or special activity to keep them safely away for a few hours.

There's all kinds of entertainment that can be incorporated into your surprise party to make it even more of a smash-hit. Our recommendation is a pro photographer there to blend in with the guests and make the event unforgettable by capturing all of the best moments. If you're going to all this trouble to create an amazing surprise, why let the guest of honour forget their amazing party? You can hire a party photographer with us from just £99 to capture all the astonishment and joy of your surprise party.

The Day Of The Party

On the day of the party you need to take time and set up everything. Have food and drink ready and set up and put up all of the relevant decorations. If you’re throwing the party at your house, get the guests either take public transport, or to park somewhere unassuming. If the birthday boy / girl immediately sees tons of cars parked outside their apartment / house, they’ll get suspicious and it might ruin the surprise.

Plan how you’re going to lure the person to/away from the location while you get everything set up and for people to come in. At that point, plan out what’s going to happen when the person walks in the door. Everyone simply yelling “surprise!” as your mark turns on the light is a timeless classic, but there’s always room for more creativity.

Extra Considerations

After all of the work you’ve put into this, it’s going to be a time to remember. Why not hire a party photographer and have everything documented? That look of surprise is a timeless classic that they’ll be able to look at whenever they want to remember the time everybody important in their life came together to give them a special day. The party photos will make some great stories on your and your guest of honour's social media too.

To sum up:

A surprise party is a relatively simple ordeal, but there is a lot to consider and plan for. The hardest part is making sure you keep it a surprise, which means only giving people the bare minimum amount of notice they need to avoid anyone with loose lips giving things away. Carefully consider your venue, keeping guests covert and your cover story to get your guest of honour to the venue without suspicion.

With that covered and the rest of this checklist followed, everyone is sure to have a good time!


Are you thinking about booking a party photographer with Perfocal? Great idea!

In your lifetime you may only host a handful of parties, with all your important friends and family coming together. (Your wedding may spring to mind!) Don't let these special events pass by without immortalising the magic with amazing photos. You can hire a professional photographer for your event simply and affordably.

We guarantee quick and simple booking, an amazing professional photographer who will travel to you, and 48 hour photo delivery every time.

We do all this so you can have everlasting memories of your friends and family all in one place.


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