Surprise Birthday Party Ideas for Your Best Friend’s Big Day


*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Have you ever spent weeks thinking up surprise birthday party ideas for your best friend only for it to backfire on you? Well, I have. For my best friend’s 16th birthday, I planned a fantastic surprise water-themed party.

I had everything figured out from the games to the gifts and decorations. However, at the last minute, half of the guests I invited called to cancel, leaving only seven people available for the party. Seven is a good number, but not if three of the guests are adults and wouldn’t necessarily participate in the games I had planned out.

To make matters worse, my best friend got the word about my plans, and it ruined the whole surprise. She talked me out of it, and we ended up eating cake at her home without any of the games I had planned.

If you are planning a surprise party, proper planning and perfect execution is everything. Don’t make the same mistakes I did! Start early and ensure everything goes according to plan.

What to Consider When Brainstorming a Surprise Party for Your Best Friend

A surprise party can go wrong very quickly. From the guest of honor arriving before everything is ready, to potentially running out of food, you need to know how to avoid surprise party mishaps to come up with a memorable and eventful party. Apart from picking the best surprise birthday party ideas, there are other important things you need to consider.

Be sure your friend would enjoy a surprise party

Not everyone likes surprises, and we’re sure putting your best friend into an awkward social situation isn’t much of a gift. Even if it is a surprise. So, consider whether your friend is the outgoing type before planning a surprise party for them.

If they’re more introverted and private, they may love a birthday surprise, as long as a party isn’t part of it. That said, they might prefer just a few close friends in attendance, even if it’s still a party.

What are their interests?

Girl blowing out candles on a birthday cake

When planning a surprise party, you need to consider what the person likes. Since you’re their best friend, this should be easy to do. You can also get a few ideas from what they’ve been talking about doing on their birthday. Close relatives can also give you some suggestions on what they would enjoy.


potato balancing on a calculator -- you can find great surprise birthday party ideas even if you're on a tight budget

How much do you plan to spend to execute the idea? Do you think the idea is achievable with your budget? These are some of the questions you need to be asking yourself as you plan for the party.

First, figure out what the different materials you need to pull off the party will cost. These materials include things like food, snacks, decorations, and invitations, among other things like finding a venue and entertainment. Next, compare the total amount with your budget to find out where you can cut back on expenses to avoid overspending.

If your goal is to throw an awesome party on a budget, consider ways you can cut your costs. For instance, instead of paying for a venue, you can opt for hosting the party at your home if you have enough space. You can also make DIY decorations at home.

[amazon box=”B074SHZQ3C”]


save the date - One of the best surprise birthday party ideas is to make sure your guests will save the date
Via Gfycat

The time of day you plan to have the party is also crucial. Is it a convenient time for most of your guests? Will the guest of honor be available at that time? Before you begin planning for the party, make sure the time is perfect for everyone — especially if it is on a weekday where most people may be preoccupied with other things. This way, you are assured that people will show up.



It is also important to figure out where you will have the event. Is it at their house, yours, or do you have to book and pay for a specific venue?

Choosing your venue in advance doesn’t just allow you to fit it into your budget — it also allows you to ensure it is available when you need it by making reservations.

However, if you are strapped for cash, you can always host the party in your home or another free-to-access venue like a city park.



How many people do you plan to invite to the party? Knowing your number of guests beforehand allows you to do proper planning. With a number in mind, you can tell how much food, space, and other materials you need to make the event a success.

Make sure you ask your guests to RSVP for the party so that you can get a precise number.

[amazon box=”B06X9J9JQS”]

How will the guest of honor be kept busy?

The last thing you want after planning the best surprise party is for the surprise to be ruined. If you and your best friend spend a lot of time together, it might be challenging to keep the secret without some help.

On the day, have someone keep them busy until all the preparations are done. You can ask another close friend to keep them busy with errands or some other distraction until you’re ready to reveal the surprise.

Fun and Interesting Ideas for a Party for a Best Friend

Here are some incredible birthday surprise ideas that you can pull off easily and with a limited budget.

A day of awesome

fun-filled day

When choosing ideas for birthday parties, it helps to choose those that are simple and easy to implement. A fun-filled day is one of the easiest plans to pull off.

Consider what your best friend would enjoy the most. What would they do if they could pack in a lifetime of fun into one single day? Make a list of their favorite places, such as parks, restaurants, or stores. Do they love particular activities, like skateboarding, movies, or even reading? Make a bucket list of those you can access (and afford) in one day.

And because this is a surprise, you may need to spread the list over a week or two. That way, you can get the most out of each day. You’ll turn a day of awesome into a week — or month — of awesome. And most importantly, save the most exciting activity for their birthday.

A walk down memory lane

Movie theme decorations

Photo credit by:

If you and your best friend have known each other for a long time, this should be one of the easiest surprise party ideas to pull off. All you need is a lot of helium balloons and pictures from his or her childhood up to the present.

Tie the photographs on the balloons so that memories are floating around them when they walk into the room. Make sure you contact their family and friends to get involved. They’ll have more photos to add to the collection.

Then, have your best friend try to find and put them together in order. You can also involve your guests so that everyone gets to participate in this exciting hunt for pictures.

Number shaped envelopes


Another super surprise for your friend’s birthday is to create a display of their age with bright and colorful envelopes. Each envelope can contain a separate surprise, like a heartfelt note or gift card. Then, mount the envelopes on a foam board in the shape of their age or their name. Decorate and display your foam board at their surprise party.

Coordinate with your guests well in advance so that everyone has a chance to contribute something to the envelopes. It can be anything from a cash gift to a photo to a small homemade gift — as long as it fits into the envelope.

What makes this one of the best birthday ideas for your friend is that they can preserve the letters for years to come.

24 gifts for 24 hours

24 gifts for 24 hours

How about surprising your best friend every hour, on the hour, of their special day? Make a list of gifts your friend would love to have. They don’t have to be big and expensive. In fact, for one gift, you could give them something as inexpensive as a box of their favorite candy. The next hour, it could be a gift card for a gourmet coffee. You can also include coupons for “favors,” if your budget and imagination start to feel cramped.

This is one of the best surprise birthday party ideas for someone you work with all day. If this is the case, you can also coordinate with other friends where you work to each provide a small gift at a particular hour. That way, the fun and friendship continues all day long.

This birthday surprise is also a great choice for someone who may not enjoy a big party. Just make sure you save the best gift for last.

Kidnap plan

kidnap plan

A kidnap plan is one of the most popular birthday surprises. It seems like the perfect plan for that workaholic friend who refuses to take time off to relax and have fun. However, it can go wrong very fast. Before executing this plan, assure your friend of their safety lest they cause a commotion and alert the authorities.

Also, make sure the destination is worth it: Decorate the venue, fill it with gifts from guests, and have a lot of fun activities planned out.

Birthday gift climax

birthday gift climax

Another great way to make your best friend’s birthday memorable is to build up to the gift. It not only increases their anticipation but also makes them excited every time they open a package because they have to keep guessing what they’re all leading up to.

This is one of the best ideas if you’re planning an extra special gift for your friend. It also works if their parents or partner is planning something special for them. For example, if the big gift is a trip to the Caribbean, you can work with all your party guests to give gifts appropriate for their upcoming trip.

Although it doesn’t matter who’s giving the big gift, to make this plan successful, you need to ensure the last gift is something that will blow them away.

Old memories gifts

old memories

This is one of the most affordable birthday ideas for your best friend. All you have to do is to gift them something you both treasured in the past. It can be anything from collectibles to a trip to one of your favorite childhood spots.

While it’s not a complicated or fancy gift, they will surely appreciate the walk down memory lane with you. This is one you can really need to put some thought into, however. You can find your favorite record from junior high in thrift stores. Or revisit your school playground and stop for coffee.

An autograph from their favorite childhood star is a nice thought. Or find a copy of their favorite book from when they were in school.

Birthday card rush

birthday card rush

A birthday card rush is also among the simple but effective ideas for your best friend’s birthday. In this day and age, when people share birthday messages on social media, it can be exciting to receive a tangible birthday greeting.

To pull it off, have everyone write their birthday wishes on cards. You can have a session where the birthday girl or boy reads out the cards or have them select a few to read before cutting the cake.

This is also one of the best surprise birthday party ideas for friend groups who have spread to the far corners of the globe. With busy lives, many people can’t always make it back to their hometown or another state for a birthday celebration.

So, contact the friends of your birthday honoree and ask them to send a real, physical greeting card. Then you can plan to open and read them during the party.

Water balloon war

water baloon war

This is one of the best surprise birthday party ideas if your friend’s birthday falls in the summer. Best of all, it’s quite affordable. All you need are lots of water balloons and a group of people ready to have fun. And a birthday boy or girl with a good sense of humor.

To implement this idea, gather the water balloons before going to your best friend’s house with your friends and guests. When they open the door, launch your attack on them until they’re soaking wet. When the balloons are over, present the cake and gifts. Quickly.

[amazon box=”B07DC2YLP1″]

Digital surprise

digital suprise

This is one of the best birthday surprises if you live far from your best friend and can’t visit them in person. It is also an excellent choice if you want to wake them up in style on their birthday.

All you have to do is to request their partner, spouse, or roommates to log onto Google Hangout and place their laptop next to their bed with the speaker on. Call them in the morning and send your wishes. You can gather a few friends to make the surprise even more fun.

Pool party surprise

pool party

Do you have a pool and you are running out of things to do for your best friend’s birthday? A pool party is an excellent idea. To pull this off, ensure you have a lot of drinks and snacks. Also, get some great music and select fun games to play to make the day even more eventful. Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit for your best friend.

Car decoration surprise

car decoration surprise

This is also among the easiest of the surprise birthday party ideas you can execute for your best friend. Decorate their car with balloons, ribbons, and other materials you can find to make it attractive.

You and your friends can even hide inside the car and come out to surprise them when they approach the vehicle. To achieve this, you may need some help from their relatives to get the car keys. Also, make sure they don’t catch you decorating the car, as it will completely ruin the surprise.

Treasure hunt surprise

treasure hunt surprise

Just like building up to a gift, a treasure hunt creates mystery and builds their anticipation. You create your treasure hunt to lead to the venue of the party or a big birthday gift. The quest begins in their bedroom on the morning of their birthday. Then, have them follow the map and the clues you planted.

Choose areas that have sentimental value for them, like their old high school or where they met their partner. Or pick your favorite hangouts from your younger days. To make it even more exciting, offer a gift from friends and relatives for every clue solved.

Road trip

road trip

A road trip is always a good idea if all you have some mutual friends that are free to travel. You’ll also need a good to accommodate everyone on the trip.

For this birthday idea, you’ll need to plan carefully to avoid the last minute rush for supplies. For instance, makes sure you have enough money for fuel, food, and the cake before your trip. You can also ask your fellow travelers to chip in to cover costs.

Also, figure out where this trip will lead you. Make sure you have a destination and a time frame in mind. Amusement parks, state parks, and beaches are all a good choice. Find an attraction nearby that you think your friend will enjoy.

Cook surprise

If your best friend is introverted or likes to stay indoors, a good meal would be an incredible surprise for them. To make this idea a success, you need to come up with a mouth-watering recipe they will surely enjoy. A home-cooked meal is also one of the better surprise birthday party ideas for small groups.

If you have no idea what to prepare, do your research. Take a look at what recipes are trending online, and make sure you focus on your friend’s favorite foods. It also helps to test your recipes beforehand. And if your cooking skills are just not up to par, you can always call your local caterer or get a meal kit from your grocer.

Make sure the party atmosphere is high-end and special for the event, even if it’s just the two of you. Put on some great music and use your best dishes. Splurge on a special birthday dessert, and make sure you have your friend’s favorite beverage on hand.

Movie night

movie night

A movie night is one of the best birthday party ideas if you are on a budget. The best thing about movies is that they are readily available. And a night on the couch watching old favorites is always a good time. 

Just make sure you have a good selection of videos to keep the party going throughout the night. If you have a streaming video service, it’s even more convenient.

Also, ensure there are enough drinks, food, and snacks for everyone. Popcorn, candy, and soft drinks are all inexpensive and movie-theater favorites. And if you want something more substantial, homemade pizza is always fun to make and eat as part of the festivities. You can buy or make individual-sized pizza crusts and put out toppings so everyone can choose the ones they like best.

Pretend to forget

The last person who should forget your birthday is your best friend. As such, your best friend will be expecting you to do something to commemorate their special day.

Pretending not to remember their birthday may be the best surprise ever. While they are busy getting mad at you for forgetting, you should be planning the best surprise. It can be anything from presenting a gift when they least expect it. Or take the party to them at home, where they’ve been busy sulking.

Balloon avalanche

balloon avalanche

The best surprise birthday party ideas don’t always have to be grand. Your best friend may appreciate even the little things you do to make their day special. A balloon avalanche is an excellent idea to get your party started, even if it’s just lunching out with the girls.

Alternatively, you can also send them a box of balloons to their home or office. Get a big bunch of helium balloons from your local party supply store. Pick your friends favorite colors and decorate them with streamers or ribbons. Then, pack them into a big box.

Ask a friend or colleague — someone your best friend doesn’t know — to deliver them. When your friend opens the box, the balloons will be released and bring some cheer to their special day.

[amazon box=”B00BFX86NO”]

Home spa session

home spa

An at-home spa session is also an excellent idea if you are strapped for cash and cannot afford to take them to the spa. It is one of the best birthday surprises if your best friend needs a pampering session.

To pull this party idea off, gather your mutual friends and get enough manicure and pedicure sets; you can ask each guest to bring their own to minimize expenses. You can also give your best friend an at-home massage to relax them on their special day.

Set up light, refreshing fruit drinks and healthy snacks. You can also turn on your friend’s favorite movie or music in the background. To add to the event, you can gift them with a new set of spa supplies or a thick, cushy bathrobe and slippers to wear.

A kind gesture

kind gesture

Don’t underestimate the power of a kind gesture when brainstorming birthday party ideas. This surprise means you’re thoughtful and caring. Take some time to figure out what you can do for your best friend to make their day a bit easier.

Have they been struggling to get a baby sitter? Has it been a while since she got her hair done professionally? If your friend has some worries or hassles in their life, doing a kind deed can go a long way. Think about what she needs most that you can offer and do it for her on their special day.

Make Your Best Friend’s Birthday a Day to Remember!

Friendship gives you an opportunity to love, mature as a human being, learn more about yourself, and open up to the full experience of life. As such, you should always grasp an opportunity to show your best friend how much you care for them.

Their birthday is one of the best days to do this. While it may not be easy to come up with surprise birthday party ideas, it’s worth the effort. Just remember to anticipate their needs and consider their likes and dislikes when planning. That way, you can come up with a party they will love.

Recent Posts