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A risk’kay surprise

Organising a surprise party for your husband is got to be harder than being an undercover agent in a drug ring. Infact, the CIA should seriously consider adopting surprise party planning into their training prospectus. How does anyone manage to do anything in secret these days?

For a start we have we have 5 devices in our house that can be can be used for reading messages. There is Gmail, Facebook and text messages that just seem to pop up on any one of these things at any time. Even drafting this blog post I am thinking of a good place to file it. Trying to find a time to design invites, order party props has also been a challenge. He really must think I do a lot of shopping on asos or Facebook-ing when I have to quickly flick sites or cover up my Photoshop file.

Then just when I thought I had covered all my tracks, I’m at work, a week before the party and at 9.41am I receive a email from my husband who’s at home working saying ‘you forgot your phone, can you call back Danielle about the sparklers’ Since did online orders result in a phone call!!?? Apparently she was just checking if the person receiving them was over 16. Slightly ironic considering they are being used for a 40th birthday party.

I console myself that I am doing a good thing. A few months before the big event. I asked my darling husband what he wanted to do for the big four oh. He said ‘how about curry takeaway and a rented movie?’ Now considering this happens once a week anyway, I didn’t think this was an appropriate solution to mark a milestone. So I did what good wifes do. I told him that is ridiculous, he told me he wasn’t really looking forward to turning 40, I told him that is ridiculous, he told me, under no circumstances did he want a party and I told him, ok honey I understand, forget the curry, I will take you to a fancy restaurant instead. He was happy and I was happy as I went to sleep that night wondering which pubs in the area had private rooms to hire and where his old baby photos were.

So a save-the-date email goes out. I get lots of offers of help. A great one from Gerred, an amazing creative who does high-end light installations and offers to do an interactive magic wall with Sam’s baby photos. Man, this was a lucky break, Sam loves stuff like this (once he gets over the photos of his mum breastfeeding him swimming around). See Gerred’s previous work (The Magic Wall), its all very inspiring!

I also find this cool iPad photo booth idea on Design Sponge.

A venue gets chosen, who knew that the American rock bar down the road had its own hidden speakeasy room you can hire (its only on their website!). I check it out and find its the perfect size for the amount of people we have.

I get thinking about the type of cake I would have, it has to be good and it has to be slightly wacky. I decide on recreating my husbands head on a plate. Theres is no hidden metaphor for this idea, only that a birthday a few years ago I tried a round flat cake with his ‘face’ on it and it was the most embarrassing thing I have ever presented in front of so many people. I had even used tic tacs for teeth, will spare you the photos…

This cake, well, this cake will be AMAZING, EPIC even! It will be a tribute to the most beautiful, kind, smily, 40 year old head I have ever known, a head that who deserves nothing more than being my finest creation. [OK I write this before the creating it, photos and how to posted here. Only judge me on my good intentions…]

Its the day of the party. I take Sam shopping to buy him a new shirt for his fancy dinner out that night (wink, wink). Cheeky thing milks the situation, heads to the most expensive store and proceeds to buy not 1 shirt but 2 and a pair of jeans that frankly, look like all the other expensive jeans he owns. He’s got a happy shopping glow though. After having some noodles, then coffee and cake at our favourite place we head home. I need to pop out child free to set up the party room. Just heading out! I say. Where you going anyway? Um. Well. I told you ages ago, I have a hair appointment!. Eek, knowing full well my hair will be in the same ponytail when I get back. Mental note if he notices that I will say, they bloody well double booked me, so I went and had a coffee down the road with Daisy instead. Turns out he doesn’t notice. When we finally both leave the house that evening (after successfully filling his stomach with a pie) I tell him on the way there that Suzie (a good friend who he has known for 15 years) thinks it disgusting I haven’t organised a party for you and her and Steve want to meet us for a quick drink before we head out for dinner. We get to the bar and head downstairs. Its quite obviously a private room so as we walk downstairs I tell him its a new speakeasy bar that not many people know about yet.

The night is a success! 40 friends were there to celebrate and Sam is overjoyed (or perhaps happily intoxicated) at the effort everyone has made to be there. We finish up at 2am and leave with fun 40th birthday memories that hopefully last longer than a night at home with a movie and takeout curry would of.

Top tips for in-house Surprise party planning.

  1. Make your partner/flatmate believe that you understand why they don’t want to celebrate and that although you think its ridiculous, you will respect their decision.
  2. Make sure you log out of Facebook, Gmail and don’t have text messages show up on screen as they come through.
  3. Save the date invite emails should have a non-suspicious header.
  4. Carry your phone with you at all times.
  5. Enlist friends to help (if only to incriminate them if it doesn’t go well or if it does – make the surprise-ee realise what great friends they have!) The later is preferable.
  6. If you have told them you are taking them out for a fancy dinner and really it is a ‘drinks’ party with not much more food than a head shape cake, then you will need to find a way of filling their stomachs before hand. For males I would assume its easier. Tell them the booking isn’t till late and it has fancy small plates, so you better eat this pie for now. (I know Sam wouldn’t blink) For females…? hmmm, tough as I would be saving up my appetite for minimum 3 courses and rather not be bloated in my evening wear. Maybe you could put a kebab in your pocket to present to her later? Any better suggestions?
  7. Give your babysitter instructions before they come over (ie. Saying “we are just down the road if you need us” does not say *fancy special restaurant* to anyone unless maybe you live in Manhattan.
  8. Make the cake elsewhere at a friends place, other creative input is invaluable and can often save you! A huge thank you to Susie who had great input to the head and spent 3 hours decorating it with me.
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