Throwing a Surprise Party!

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Throwing a surprise birthday party for children can be tricky, since they seem to always want to know what you’re up to! But with careful planning, and a little bit of help from co-conspirators, you can create a top-notch party your child will talk about for months to come.


Take it from local mom Holly Putnam, who got plenty of help with planning a surprise party for her son, Aiden, when their original party plans fell through.


“We were going to be moving out of state the day before his birthday, so we planned for a party two weeks before we moved so he could spend one last time with all his friends,” she says.


Putnam booked Recreations Outlet in Milford, but unfortunately, the February weather was not in a partying mood. With three inches of snow on the ground and ice moving in, Putnam was faced with canceling the party.


“I called Recreations Outlet to see what the rescheduling policy was, and I explained to them that we were moving out of state and that it would be tricky for us to figure out a date to come back. The lady we were working with was so helpful. She understood how important this was for me to try and get it rescheduled on one of the weekends we were coming back to Ohio for a visit.”


Putnam managed to keep the party a secret from Aiden until they returned to Ohio several weeks later, under the pretense of attending a wedding that Putnam was photographing.


“We walked him into the party room to all his friends yelling ‘Happy Birthday!’ and rushing him with hugs since it had been two weeks since they had seen each other at school!” The effort paid off and Aiden still talks about his party.


“For me, seeing his face when he realized what was going on was priceless.”


Keeping the Secret

One of the toughest parts about planning a surprise party, especially for little kids, is actually keeping it a surprise. Not only do you have to keep your curious youngster at bay, but you also have to hope that his peers don’t spill the beans! Moving to another state like Putnam did can certainly help keep party guests from spoiling the surprise, but that’s not going to happen too often. Some good tactics to consider are hosting the party off-site, hosting the party on a date other than the child’s birthday, and keeping it a surprise for party guests, too!


All of those factors worked for local mom Heather Claspill, when her stepdaughter turned the big 1-0 earlier this year.


“Gwen is super jealous that her two older brothers have summer birthdays and they get to do parties outside,” she says. Claspill booked a party at Splash Cincinnati in Sharonville in late April, when the weather was improving, but still not warm enough for an outdoor bash.


“Her dad picked her up from school a little early, which was a double treat because he doesn’t get to pick her up often,” says Claspill. Only telling her they had a surprise for her, Claspill handed her stepdaughter a bathing suit and a towel. Then they picked up a few of her friends, and headed to Splash Cincinnati, a place Gwen had never been before and where even more friends were waiting for her. She celebrated with 14 of her friends at the indoor water park with pizza, presents and cake.


“Many of the parents didn’t tell their daughters about the party until the day of,” says Claspill. That certainly helped keep the secret. “All of her friends were there and no one ruined the surprise. It was five weeks past her birthday, but it was definitely worth waiting for!”


Shhh! Tips To Keep in Mind

  • Make sure your birthday child is the sort of kid who actually LIKES surprises and being the center of attention. There’s nothing worse than springing a surprise that a child’s not ready for.
  • Keep siblings in the dark, if necessary, so they don’t blurt out the surprise and waste your good effort.
  • Keep your guest list small, unless guests are in the dark. It will be easier for you to manage the party and lessen the risk of someone spilling the beans.
  • Don’t pretend to forget your child’s birthday. Talk about planning a small party or taking him on a special outing to celebrate the day. This will give you cover for getting your child out of the home while someone else sets up the party decorations and greets the guests, or gives you an excuse to drive to the party venue if you’re hosting it elsewhere.

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