Party! Surprise?

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Jeanelle Wu

Consider both sides when debating whether or not to throw a surprise party for a close friend or family member!

Jeanelle Wu, Photojournalist

You walk into your house. You reach for the lights. As you flip on the light switch, you hear a booming “Surprise!” echo the room. Your brain tries to process what is going on as you see all of your family and friends gathered around the room. What would your reaction be? I’m guessing you would be surprised. That’s probably why they call it a surprise party. If you have a close friend or family member’s birthday coming up, a special occasion, or just want to have a good party (no excuse needed), you might be considering whether or not to make it a surprise. Depending on the person, there are two ways it can go: horribly or amazing.

I feel that it brings a rush of exhilaration… like a spoonful of sugar once every year or like a plot in a book.”

— Reagan Fan

When looking on the bright side, surprise parties have the potential to be so much fun, possibly even more fun than a regular party that you throw for yourself. The shocked expression of the guest of honor and his/her wide, grateful smile (hopefully a genuine one) will make all the party planning efforts worth it. However, if you are planning to throw a surprise party, it is crucial that you are very close to the guest of honor and know a lot about him/her. That way, you can plan just the way the guest of honor wants it, with his/her favorite food to his/her favorite music. This takes away the pressure and stress of the guest of honor to plan a party. Seeing the amount of fun surprise parties can be, Reagan Fan (10) shares how “I have always wanted a surprise party because I feel that it brings a rush of exhilaration… like a spoonful of sugar once every year or like a plot in a book.” Loving the feeling of being surprised, Reagan “ha[s] had moments when [she was] surprised in good ways, but a full party seems surreal.”

I think that the guest list is one of the most important parts of a birthday party, which would not have been the same if I didn’t help plan it.”

— Bryson Webster

On the other hand, surprise parties have a higher chance of going wrong. The guest of honor might not like how it is planned, the people invited, or the food served. Or even worse, he/she might not have wanted a party at all. Acting happy and excited when you just want to leave would certainly not be a fun celebration for the guest of honor. Additionally, not spilling the beans about the party means that the person the party is for will not have the ability to prepare and present themselves how they want to. Maybe if he/she had known about the party, he/she would have worn a different outfit or done his/her hair differently. The scheduling might also be difficult if you do not know what the guest of honor has going on or how tired he/she will be (but who’s ever too tired to party). In his opinion, Bryson Webster (10) states that “I have never had the desire to have a surprise party. I have had many birthday parties that were very memorable and I don’t think they could have been made more fun if they were a surprise. I think that the guest list is one of the most important parts of a birthday party, which would not have been the same if I didn’t help plan it.”

Clearly, everyone is different, but why do some people just not like surprises? To some, surprises in general cause them anxiety due to sudden loss of control. When you are unprepared, which is usually the case for surprises, you are more prone to feel stress. The last thing you want is for the guest of honor to feel stressed when he/she is supposed to be having fun. This is why it is best to know if the person you are throwing the party for actually likes surprises. 

Just because you don’t throw a surprise party for someone does not mean you can’t make the party exciting and full of surprises. Instead of surprising the guest of honor with a surprise party, you can surprise them with something or someone at the party. For example, a close friend or family member that lives far away, a band that plays live music, or a celebrity they like (semi-celebrity might be more attainable).

Always think about the person you are throwing the party for and whether he/she will appreciate you for making it a surprise. Whether the surprise party ends well or not, it will definitely be a party to remember. Speaking of surprises, surprise, you have made it to the end of this article!