Last-minute birthday surprise ideas

Updated April 17, 2017

Maybe you forgot someone's birthday or simply did not have enough time to make special arrangements until the last minute. You can still pull off a birthday gift or surprise in a matter of minutes if need be. Your friend or loved one will be surprised and you will still be able to honour her birthday.


Even if you are crunched for time, plan a quick birthday party. Contact friends or family members and invite all to help celebrate at your home or a designated location like a park or restaurant. Have food catered, order pizzas or make your own meal. If the birthday celebrant is young, allow him to have a sleepover with movies and games. You may want guests to hide and jump out to give him a real surprise.

Birthday Meal

Even if you are planning a birthday surprise at the last minute, take the birthday girl out for lunch or dinner at her favourite restaurant. Make reservations ahead of time or if you are really crunched for time, just show up. For an additional surprise, have the servers at the restaurant sing "Happy Birthday" to her and possibly get a free dessert. Make sure to pay for her meal as a birthday gift. Another option is to order food in and eat at home or make your own delicious meal to serve her at your home.

Shopping Trip

When planning a birthday surprise at the last minute, offer to take the birthday girl out on a shopping trip. Give her a set amount of money or purchase whatever items for her you wish. You could also make a stop at a nail or beauty salon for a manicure, pedicure, massage or hairstyle. Pay for this pampering as well. While shopping, offer to purchase for jewellery, clothing or even furniture and home accents. You decide what purchases best suit the birthday person.


Give the birthday person a quick, last-minute gift that will still leave her feeling surprised and appreciated. Pick up a bouquet or vase of her favourite fresh flowers. Other quick gift options include balloons, stuffed animals, a gift card or money. You can also purchase or throw together a gift basket full of fruits, desserts or relaxation gifts like bath bubbles, lotions and candles. Wine baskets can also be put together with wine bottles, drinking glasses, cheese and crackers.

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About the Author

Sarah Mollman began writing for "The Northern Iowan" newspaper in 2005. She was awarded scholarships from the Department of English at the University of Northern Iowa for Outstanding Short Story and Outstanding Personal Essay in 2008. Mollman holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Teaching from the University of Northern Iowa.