[guest post] you are your surprise’s worst enemy

Surprise Events 2

Have you ever had to plan a surprise party? Or tried to keep a surprise from someone? I’ve personally never planned a surprise in my professional event planning, but there have been times where I’ve tried to keep certain aspects of an event a secret from the guests in an effort to surprise and delight them. But boy, is that hard to do!

So I’m excited to introduce a blog post on the very subject of surprises from the expert on all things surprise, Rebecca Aftergood, owner of Surprise Me! Events, a boutique event planning company based in Vancouver. Surprise Me! specializes in events that are spectacular and unexpected, from surprise parties to date nights and even engagements. Enjoy!

A surprise event can be difficult to pull off, depending on the extent of the surprise. If you’ve got a few unexpected touches up your sleeve it’s easier to execute than if your entire event is hush hush. Seems obvious right? It’s much easier to hold back something small then to hold back everything. It becomes even harder to spring a successful surprise when you live with the person you are trying to keep in the dark. The person that (presumably) you share everything with and spend most of your off-work hours with.


But why is pulling off a successful surprise actually so difficult? Is it because your partner is psychic? Probably not. Or is it because your friends can’t keep a secret? Possibly. But more likely it’s because of you. Yes you! 9 times out of 10, you are your surprise’s worst enemy.

Surprise Events

In fact, your actions and reactions almost always give the surprise away. You might be taking texts and phone calls secretly at home. Or maybe you’re leaving your emails open or checking them while your partner is sitting next to you on the couch. You might make the cardinal mistake of sending event invitations through Facebook (there is so much that can go wrong in this particular scenario…). Any one of these unthinking actions (after all you do them multiple times a day right?) can ruin your plans.

Another possibility is that you have created too complex a deception. This is one of the biggest mistakes a planner can make, and one I have unfortunately made myself. On one of my earliest forays into planning, my client and I created a plan that required them to park in a certain lot. When the lot turned out to be full, and my client refused to park anywhere else, his wife became suspicious. Something this simple to overlook can put the kibosh on your surprise (they still loved their date but it was a mistake I won’t make again!).

These are some of the actions that you (and nobody else) take that give you away. But the most telling, and difficult to control, is how you act around your surprisee. If you’re awkward and secretive, it’s a dead giveaway. And even worse, you don’t want to be that unfortunate couple on TV; the one where the surprisee thinks something really bad is going on… So if you act naturally the majority of the time the surprise will go off without a hitch.

Often, the way you react can even avert disaster. Once while planning a surprise birthday party for my boyfriend, one of our friends literally said “Did you invite ‘so-and-so’ to your party?” In the face of adversity I didn’t lose my cool! I just looked baffled and said “what party?” and my boyfriend assumed our friend was talking about the housewarming we had months ago where ‘so-and-so’ was invited. Ok, so something like this might happen to you and sometimes there’s nothing you can do to avert disaster. But you have no chance if you look mad and yell, “You ruined everything!” Just remember that your partner knows you better than anyone, and if you can act naturally at all times, even while under fire, most of the time he or she won’t suspect a thing!

So remember, the success of your surprise largely relies on you. Which is a good thing, because that means you have the control! Just make sure you act normally, plan ahead, and make things simple. Or hire someone who can take it all off your shoulders and just enjoy!

If you have a story from when something you did ruined your surprise (or saved it) I’d love to hear about it in the comments! I’d like to thank Amanda from Planning it All for allowing me to guest blog on her site this week. Look for her guest post on my blog in the coming week on my blog. I’d love to hear from you and connect on my social media channels through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Rebecca is a surprise event planner in Vancouver, BC (Canada!). She owns Surprise Me Events, and plans all manner of surprises, from parties to date nights and proposals. Rebecca left her former life as a lawyer to pursue her passion of making the world a little less predictable! When Rebecca isn’t metaphorically jumping out at people, she loves to cook, take photographs, and search Pinterest for hours on end.


    • Rebecca Aftergood says:

      Hey Kristine! That’s exactly what I think :). Make things simple and try to plan for every eventuality! And use the opportunities around you! Great you could mask your party with Halloween (no pun intended)!

  1. Patti says:

    One of my friends surprised her husband by having everyone come to a local bar. When he came in he looked around and said, “wow, there are a lot of people I know here.” So fun. I myself hate being surprised. I just have to know everything. :)

    • Rebecca Aftergood says:

      Erin if you need any more specific advice you can definitely email me. One idea is you could make it an “unbirthday” (remember Alice and Wonderland?). People can become highly suspicious around their birthdays, and everything out of the norm will attract their attention. You could even do it a month or 6 weeks before or more.

  2. susanmahlburg says:

    My co-workers successfully planned a surprise baby shower with my first daughter. My husband almost had to tell me, though, because I felt so bad the ‘day of’ that I wasn’t planning on going into work. He kept saying things like ‘I bet everyone will be really nice to you today’ lol

    • Rebecca Aftergood says:

      Susan, it is SO important to get key players involved! The most recent surprise party I threw for my boyfriend, he mentioned something about potentially working late “sometime in the next few weeks”. So I called his boss and explained what was happening. Sure enough, Friday rolls around and there was a night shift! His boss told him someone else would be taking care of it. Which actually made my partner feel sad because he wasn’t being trusted to manage the night shift haha.

      If your co-workers hadn’t told your husband he probably would have encouraged you to stay home, as his poor pregnant wife wasn’t feeling well! But you have to make sure the person can be trusted to keep quiet!

  3. Alana @ ihaveafutureandahope.com says:

    I am terrible with trying not to figure out surprises. My husband has a hard time trying to surprise me. I seem to ruin most of my surprises. :( I have been like this since I was a child. So when I plan a surprise I try to think of every scenario and plan for it.

    • Rebecca Aftergood says:

      Unfortunately some people are naturally more suspicious that others haha. They key as you said is to plan for everything, but also to act in a way that doesn’t raise suspicion! It can be hard because I know I get ridiculously excited about things. Luckily my boyfriend is not nearly as inquisitive as you!

  4. Danielle K says:

    I am the worst at trying to figure out surprises – I just have to know! I’m also not great at planning surprise parties either because I just want to share :) It’s best to just keep surprises away from me haha.

  5. sunandhurricane says:

    You are SO right! I think it’s hardest to be the planner and keep everything status quo! I’m waaaaay too skeptical and figured out my dear hubby’s attempts every time. Poor guy!

  6. Aisha LC says:

    I am horrible at surprises but that is true it alot of it comes down to you. I am going to try to surprise my bf with a trip somewhere this year so we will see how i do this time around :)

  7. sarabarrywrites says:

    I really like having surprise elements with the person knowing about the event—so much easier on every one!

  8. mythirtyspot says:

    I threw a surprise 30th birthday to my then boyfriend (now husband.) It was a fiasco in every part including the cake having the wrong name! But I would do it again. He was surprised and for me, that was so fun!

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