A good friend of ours threw a surprise party for his wife’s 50th birthday and did a real bang-up job. The party was two months in the planning and I don’t know how he managed to keep it a secret from his wife. He sent out the invitations by e-mail , arranged for two waitresses to distribute the food and drinks and shopped for the appetizers and incidentals. On the day of the party, he arranged for his wife to be out the whole day with a friend while he cooked the food (he’s a gourmet cook )and a nephew decorated the house with balloons and streamers.Sixty people turned up for the party and boy,was his wife surprised when she walked in at 8 o’clock and the lights went on and everybody shouted “Happy Birthday”. She was overwhelmed, particularly when she saw two of her nieces who had flown in from London. It was a great party ; one that she will always remember as will all of us who were there.
In general though, I really don’t like surprise parties. When we are waiting in the darkened living room for the guest of honor to enter so that we can shout ” Surprise”, I feel a little silly. Grown-ups should not be acting like this. Surprise parties, in my book, are for kids, little kids.
Two stories that I heard recently have only confirmed my views about such parties.
One is about a couple who had gone on a trip to Dallas and whose children decided to celebrate their wedding anniversary immediately upon their return. The idea was that the party would begin as soon as they got home from the airport. On the given day, everything was in place. The food had been catered, and the 40 or so guests were waiting in the darkened house for the couple to arrive. The children had heard from relatives in Dallas that the parents had been dropped off at the airport and it had been confirmed that the plane was on time. However, when the parents didn’t turn up even an hour beyond the expected time, someone thought to call and find out what had happened. It turned out that the plane was overbooked and that passengers were being offered inducements of $ 500 if they would agree to be bumped off and take a later flight. So the parents took the offer and were still in Houston while the guests were waiting in New Jersey. The party had to go on without the guests of honor.
In another instance, the children who arranged the party invited guests based on their faulty knowledge of who their parents close friends were. As a result, some really close friends were left of the guest list and the parents later had to explain to them why such an oversight occurred.