I told y’all about the surprise summer dates that I had planned for Russell throughout the summer…what I didn’t tell you is that they were my cover story! The entire time, I was planning a surprise 30th birthday party for Russ and didn’t want him to know. I set up a bunch of other surprise dates so when the time came for the party, he wasn’t suspicious.
With the help of my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and a bunch of really good friends and family members, we threw an epic surprise party. Seriously, I’m just going to toot away at the horn here for a second, because it was so much fun. I had more fun at his party than I did at our wedding!
The Theme: Cheers & Beers to 30 Years
Russell is an outdoorsy type, who really likes hiking, camping, and…beer. One of his fave brews is Sierra Nevada and the branding is perfect for what Russ likes – mountainous scenery. I took this as a theme and ran with it. His cake and the decorations were coordinated with both the outdoor theme and beer theme. We used chalkboard accents such as food/menu signs throughout the party, too. Then I used chalk on our deck to create a happy birthday banner.
I also found an awesome six-pack-themed party suite on Etsy (by LyonsPrints). We had the invites printed and a poster made, and then picked all of the other party decorations (like plates and streamers) by color scheme to match.
How To Plan A Surprise Party (when you live with the guest of honor!)
- Start early. I began planning in April and had the save the date out by early May for an August party. It helped to avoid the last-minute crunch of planning freakouts.
- Create a secret event on Facebook. Did you know you can do this? I made a private event, did not invite Russ, and he never saw all of his friends/family accepting and chatting. Private events don’t appear in the newsfeed unless you’ve been invited to them.
- Enlist help. I couldn’t have done the planning without my mother and sister-in-law. They made the food I couldn’t, helped mail the invites so Russell didn’t see, and helped set up the day of. One of Russell’s co-workers snuck invites to others. All of our family and friends helped in some way; every guest to the party brought a six pack. I never would have pulled it off without help.
- Buy/rent where you can, don’t DIY. The only reason this party actually worked is because I had it catered by a local grocery store chain. I didn’t even attempt to make food for 50+ people. Obviously, I had the budget to do this, so it was ok. But if you do have to make the food yourself, find a good friend who will let you use their kitchen and freezer prior to the party. It would have been too much to do the food myself since I live with Russ; he would have seen the food. I rented tables and chairs and paid a delivery fee, because even though I have a truck, I couldn’t load and unload alone.
- Have a cover story. And a back-up cover story. Here’s how the weekend went: Friday night, I took Russ to the drive-in, which is by the airport. After the first movie ended, I told him we had another surprise and to drive to the airport. Once there, we picked up his best friend from out of town. I then surprised Russ with a pedal-paddle adventure for him and Shayne to get them out of the house the next day. When they came home from that, the surprise party was on. So if you count, I had 3 surprises lined up just to cover up the actual surprise, which was the party! It was worth the extra effort.
- Scale it back. Russ doesn’t care about decorations; I do. I had a massive DIY list of crafts I wanted to tackle and in the end, I chose two or three and that was it. The people, the food, and the fun were the important parts. I had to talk myself off the ledge a few times and I’m glad I did. Russ loved everything I did, but what we both loved most was spending time with our friends and family. Sanity and time were both saved!
- Hide things in plain sight. I worked on a few crafty things right in front of Russell and told him that they were for other people’s parties – like an upcoming baptism. He believed me without question. (It helps if you don’t usually fib to your spouse and they trust you, ha).
- Enlist someone to take photos. I was on my feet all day, running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I asked a friend to be in charge of photos and video and am so grateful – they caught moments I missed (we forgot to take photos; so did everyone else). These photos ended up being the only ones I have of the party!
- Buy thank you cards for the guest of honor. You just threw a party for someone, and now they have to write out a bunch of hand-written notes (which, let’s be honest, everyone hates doing) – oops. Make it easier by having thank you cards and stamps ready to go. Help fill them out. Do it as early as possible while you are still smiling at the memories you made and mean what you write in the card. It keeps the love going.
- Don’t forget the day after. Have food in the house, cold drinks, and a place to kick your feet up. We were exhausted the next day and didn’t want to do a single adult thing, like laundry. It kept the happy feeling going to have built-in, much needed R&R time. Also, there may be hangovers. Have Advil ready.
Cheers & Beers to 30 Years Surprise Party Gallery
Even though planning a surprise party for months while keeping it a secret from the person I live with was pretty hard to do, it somehow worked and was worth every stressful second. We had the most fun with ours friends and family…more fun than we had at our wedding, more fun than we’ve had in a long time. I was on a quest to recreate our #hssweetheartsummer and this party was the highlight. I feel closer to my family and friends, and closer to my husband. I wish I could do things like this for him all of the time, every day of the year. He deserves it. Every day should be a party!