How to plan a 50th birthday surprise party

Updated February 21, 2017

Plan a surprise 50th birthday party for someone special who is about to celebrate this milestone. Surprise parties for milestone birthdays may be harder to plan due to the birthday celebrant's knowledge of the big day that's looming over his head. Collaborate with a few good friends to pull off the party, and keep it a surprise until it's time for the guest of honour to discover the party. All of your time in planning the surprise party is not likely go unnoticed once the birthday celebrant gets over the initial shock of his surprise.

Select a date, time, and venue for the party. Choose a venue that won't give away the surprise. Rent a hall if you have to, or want to. Keep in mind 50th birthdays are special occasions and call for a proper celebration with all of the trimmings. If the birthday celebrant is highly alert, consider working with a couple of different fellow conspirators to throw her off of your track.

Compile the guest list. Include everyone you know of who's important to him, and ask those people if they know of anyone you're forgetting. Track down his college roommate or best friend from high school, if possible, to add to the surprise. Including guests from his past, especially that far back, will likely add to the importance of his milestone birthday.

Choose a basic theme or colour scheme for the party to keep everything coordinated. Use a "blast from the past" or "this is your life" concept, or centre the theme around her favourite activities, such as fishing, sports, dancing, music, or TV. If she has a dark sense of humour, an "over the hill," "antique" or "funeral for her youth" might be suitable themes. If she's touchy about her new age, consider an elegant "golden" party, instead.

Send invitations to everyone on the guest list. Use invitations that prominently announce the party is a surprise 50th birthday party to keep guests from mentioning the party directly to the guest of honour. The invitations should also give guests a clue as to the theme of the party. If you have special instructions, such as requesting that guests dress up or write out a "memory" page for the birthday celebrant, include those instructions in the invitation.

Devise a strategy to keep her from learning of the party and get her to the party in the proper attire. For example, her closest friends and relatives could plan a fake surprise party for someone else so she feels like she's in on the surprise. Let her think that the guests have something else to do the night of the surprise party, but make plans for dinner the evening before or after the party to throw her off and not alert her to the surprise. She is likely to be on alert due to her impending high-profile birthday. Another option is to take her out to a nice dinner, or plan on attending a concert or play only to "forget" the tickets and have to return home.

Plan the decorations, activities, and food for the party. Decorations might include pictures of the birthday celebrant from birth to present, including any embarrassing high school yearbook pictures. Activities might include party games, asking guests to prepare a roast for the birthday celebrant, or hiring a DJ to entertain your guests. The birthday cake should complement the party's theme. Use the number 50 in your decorations. For a "golden" party, that could be as simple as sprinkling golden "50" confetti on the tables.

Arrange for transportation for your guests so their cars won't tip off the birthday celebrant.


Try to keep a journal or scrapbook throughout your planning process to share with the birthday celebrant after the party. Plan a surprise birthday weekend in a lodge, cabin, or campsite where all of his friends can be waiting for him. Spending the entire weekend away will give him more time to visit with everyone, while providing a mini-vacation for everyone.


Avoid making telephone calls or taking telephone calls when she's in the same house or office with you. Ask your fellow conspirators to help field calls if you live with her so she doesn't accidentally overhear a party-related telephone conversation.

Things You'll Need

  • Invitations
  • Venue
  • Decorations
  • Entertainment
  • Food
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About the Author

Janece Bass is a freelance writer specializing in weddings, family, health, parenting, relationships, dating, decorating, travel, music and sports. She has been writing for more than 15 years and has numerous published pieces on various websites and blogs. Bass has also ghostwritten various fiction-based novels.