Throwing a Surprise Party

by Lisa on Tuesday: Sep 01, 2015

Several months back, my father, brother and I discussing the idea that we should throw a surprise birthday party for my mother who was turning 60 this year.  She had dropped some hints in the past to indicate that she’d want a party like that someday, so we figured this was the perfect opportunity.  It was also quickly decided that my house would be the venue.

Surprise Party - Banner
When we bought the house two summers ago, we knew it would make a great entertaining space since the main floor is pretty big, and the sellers also left us an amazing dining room table  that could sit up to 10 people.
Dining Room Table
However, this would be the first time we’d be throwing a party here, and certainly the first time we’d have that many people here at once (the guest list was around 20 people).

Preparing the House

First and foremost was to prep the house. As I mentioned, we have only been living in the house for two years and this would also be the first time all of the guests (excluding my immediate family) would be seeing the place. I knew people would be wanting a house tour, so I wanted the place to be in its best possible shape. Here’s what I did:
  • Clean the house from top to bottom
  • Replace the curtain on the sliding glass door
  • Spruce up some random house accessories like kitchen and bathroom towels
  • Do some thorough weeding of the garden
  • Find a sound system for the downstairs


Some of these items, in particular the curtain and sound system, had been on the house to do list for at least a year and planning a party was the kick in the butt we needed to get them done.



In addition to the house details, I decided to make a slide show of pictures of my mother and the family throughout the ages. I coordinated with my aunt who had the majority of the “olden days” pictures, and I filled in all of the years since I was about 12 when I began taking tons of pictures on a nearly daily basis.  There were definitely some gems in my collection 🙂

I compiled everything into a folder and did the “easy” slideshow option which is to just hit the “slideshow” button in windows and let it loop randomly.  I’ve made other slideshows before that were much more involved and set to music, but for the purpose of this party, all we needed were looping pictures. I hooked up my computer to the TV via an HDMI cable on the day of the party and just let it play. This was actually a big hit!

After much research, we decided to go with the Sonos sound system, which is a wireless system and you can add as many speakers and rooms as you want. We decided to get two of their “Play 1” speakers and put one in the dining room and one in the living room. The downstairs rooms basically form one big circle, so with those two speakers, you can hear the sound throughout the whole floor.  You can control everything through an app which we put on practically every device we have, including our phones. We turned out to be huge fans of this and it will come in handy any time we have people over or even if we just want to hang out listening to music. (Side note: this is in no way sponsored – I just love it!)

My brother was in charge of coming up with a playlist of my mother’s favorite songs and we queued that up to play for the entirety of the party.



I am a huge planner by nature and for at least the month before the big day, I created detailed lists every week of things I needed to do so I could spread out the tasks and not get too overwhelmed. I wrote down everything, no matter how small, and I really feel like this helped keep things organized.

On the day of the party, everything went off without a hitch, and I had very little to worry about (except for keeping the surprise hidden until the big moment, but even that went well). I really think this had to do with how much planning and how many list I made ahead of time.

Surprise Party - Food

My mother had a great time and was totally surprised. Our hard work paid off, and now I think we’re ready to throw another party at any given time!


Have you ever thrown a surprise party?

One Response to “Throwing a Surprise Party”

  1. I have never thrown a surprise party! But it sounds like fun – and a lot of work too! I’m glad your mom was both surprised and happy about the party 🙂

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