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Best Surprise Birthday Ideas for Friends

Best Birthday Surprise Ideas for Friends

Birthday Surprise Ideas for Friends

There’s only one way to improve any given birthday celebration, and that’s to make it a surprise. There’s something about the surprise party that lights up excitement for nearly everyone. These celebrations take our expectations for the day and completely flip them around into something unexpected and thrilling.  

And while a standard surprise party is still a great choice, there are tons of different ways to throw a surprise birthday celebration that doesn’t involve standing around, drinking punch, and eating cake. This year, surprise your friends, parents, kids, or significant other with a surprise birthday they’ll never forget. The perfect gift might just be a surprise birthday party. Learn the  best birthday surprises to create a memorable event!

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Tips to Ensure Your Surprise Birthday Ideas are Successful

The ultimate birthday surprise is different for everyone. Use these tips to determine whether your birthday person will enjoy the surprise ideas you're considering. You don't want the birthday girl or guy to feel uncomfortable at their own birthday party. These pointers will help ensure success.

  • Make sure your best friend likes a surprise. Not everyone likes a surprise birthday party. For some, the extra surprise is too much. They might be the special person that day, but they don't like feeling like the center of attention. It's probably best not to throw a surprise party for someone that doesn't want one. 
  • Plan the surprise activities around things your friend likes to do. If they don't like crowds, don't invite a ton of people. If they love adventure, plan something outdoorsy. The best surprise birthday party ideas will fit your beneficiary like a goal.
  • Make sure you can keep the secret. This is one of the most important parts of throwing a successful surprise birthday party! If you can't keep it a secret, the element of surprise is gone and the party itself might be less fun. 
  • Gauge your friend's reaction when you mention their birthday. If they get really excited, they're probably game for a surprise party. If they seem uninterested or dismissive, then a surprise party might not be the best idea. 
  • Come up with an appropriate cover story. You don't want to give the game away by saying "surprise" or "happy birthday." You need a way to get your friend to their party without clueing them in. Come up with something else they can do while compatriots prepare the surprise. The more believable the cover story, the less likely it is that the birthday person will figure out your surprise birthday idea. 
  • Make sure you have enough time to plan and execute the surprise. If you only have a few days, it's probably not going to work. You need time to invite people, plan activities, and decorate without raising suspicion. 
  • Choose the right time. A surprise party is more successful when it's not at the beginning or end of the day. That way, your friend has the whole day to enjoy their birthday without having to worry about getting back to work or school. 
  • Make sure your event feels like a party! Even the best birthday surprise ideas can be ruined if you don't put enough thought into your set and setting. Use decorations like balloons on the front door, a radio station pumping birthday tunes, and a birthday gift stack on a table. Your birthday person will appreciate your birthday surprise even more if it really feels like a party.

Now that you know how to make sure your surprise is a success, it's time to start thinking about what kind of party you want to throw. Here are some unique and fun ideas for surprising your favorite person on their big day.

A stack of birthday cards.


Getting a handful of birthday cards in the mail from close friends and family is always nice, but imagine how it would feel to get dozens or even hundreds of cards from most everyone you know? Would you be surprised? 

 A birthday card blitz is an excellent way to surprise someone on their birthday because it doesn’t involve complex plans to get them to a location without becoming aware of the surprise. All you need is access to their friends list, and you can organize the entire event over email and social media. Best of all, you can orchestrate the surprise even if you don’t live in the same area.   It's a birthday surprise idea anyone can plan!

 Simply contact everyone they know and ask them to send a handwritten birthday card to your friend’s home address. They can buy a card, fill it out, and mail it, or they can use Simply Noted to have a handwritten card written and sent by our automated handwriting machines. 

 If you live locally, you could opt to have the cards sent to you so that you can surprise your friend with a box full of birthday cards on their birthday.

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A VW van trekking out on a road trip across the desert.


In this case, the surprise isn’t the party; it’s the destination. Choose two or three exciting sites and plan a road trip between them — only don’t tell your friend where they’re going. If the drives aren’t long, consider blindfolding your friend so they’re entirely in the dark until you arrive. 

 You can take the surprise up a notch by planning birthday-related fun at each location. For example, if your first stop is a local brewery, you could plan a special beer tasting along with lunch. You might also consider having gifts waiting at each destination. Extra points if you can think of a creative way to present them.


This one’s not for the faint of heart, but if your friend is adventurous, this could be right up their alley. Book an hour or two and take a mile-high tour around your city.  

 Optionally, you could pair a helicopter ride with some other destination. Enjoy the scenery for an hour and then have the helicopter drop you at a second destination where the festivities can continue.

A woman getting at spa treatment on her birthday.


Helicopters might be too thrilling for some people. They might prefer something more relaxing, like a surprise day at the spa. Most spas will offer half-day or full-day packages complete with a massage, skin treatments, and various other activities. 

 Depending on the spa, you might keep things intimate, just you and your friend, or you might include more people. Make sure everyone arrives separately so that their presence can be a part of the surprise.  It's a great birthday surprise idea for someone that likes to be pampered.

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People having fun on a party bus.


If your friend loves the nightlife, a party bus could be just the ticket for their next birthday. You, them, and fifteen of their closest friends can party on the bus in between bars and clubs, and then enjoy different spots around the city. 

 With a smaller group, a limousine would work just as well. Both allow you to safely drink around the city without having to worry about designated drivers or flagging down taxis. 

 Be sure to decorate the bus before your friend’s arrival. One great way to spring the surprise is to gather everyone on the bus and then drive it right to their door!


Whether at a public venue or in a private party setting, karaoke is a birthday celebration your friend will never forget. It’s easy to find live karaoke nights at local bars. Alternatively, you can rent a karaoke machine for a home party or hire a karaoke DJ. 

 If you hire a DJ, look for someone that takes the presentation a step further. Some might arrive with an elaborate laser light show. Others come with trunks full of costumes. Costumed karaoke makes for great birthday photos, and everyone can get in on the fun.

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A surprise birthday progressive dinner party.


Progressive dinners make a social event out of eating. Usually, a group moves between the houses of those participating, with each home hosting a portion of the meal. A blindfolded event would play out the same way, but your birthday guy or gal wouldn’t know where they were heading next. 

 Have each host decorate their home for the party and prepare a dish for the group. The first stop could be an appetizer, followed by a few stops for entrees, one or two for desserts, and a final stop for coffee and after-dinner drinks. Between stops, blindfold your friend so they’re surprised at each location.

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Close up of a guitar player wearing a leather jacket.


If you’ve never been to a house concert, it should be on your bucket list. Instead of a musical artist playing a standard venue, they select an individual’s home and then sell tickets to the surrounding community. It’s the most intimate concert venue you could ever hope for, and it would make a great surprise birthday celebration! 

 Find an artist your friend likes that’s willing to play ball. Set up the concert at another friend’s house that’s large enough to host a sizable gathering. Set up chairs, sell tickets, and get a spread of food. Then surprise your friend with the concert of a lifetime.

Throw a Birthday Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt is great fun for a best friend on their birthday. Consider designing it as a treasure hunt that leads the birthday group all around the city looking for items that relate to your friend's life. Plan prizes for the person that finds everything on the list first. This treasure hunt could end at a party location, a bar, or another spot where the festivities might continue. 

 To really make milestone birthdays special, you could design the hunt with clues that guide participants to particular locations — think the Amazing Race. Once attendees find the intended object in a given area they'll get the next clue to the next spot on the hunt. You could celebrate the whole day, moving from location to location.

A surprise outdoor birthday movie night.

Show a Birthday Surprise Movie Montage

Turn your friend's birthday into a fun walk down memory lane by creating a poignant movie montage with exciting moments from their life. You can use video and photos to tell the tale of what brought your friend to this day. If they have a favorite memory, be sure to include it, along with any inside jokes and other memories they share with family members and other friends. 

 For a seamless experience, consider throwing your best friend a movie night and then show the montage as a trailer before the main feature. Choose your friend's favorite movie of all time and then project it onto an outdoor screen for all of their favorite people. Or rent out a theater and create a party buffet of movie snacks for everyone to enjoy.


A flash mob is a group of people that suddenly appears in a public place to perform an unusual or seemingly spontaneous act. This type of event is often coordinated in advance, and it can be a great way to surprise your friend on their birthday. If you have friends or a loved one that can choreograph a large dance more musical number, ask for their help. This birthday surprise is only as good as the legwork you put into it. 

 There are a few things to keep in mind when planning a flash mob. First, you'll need to pick a location where your friend will be and choreograph the performance. You'll also need to make sure that you have enough people to participate (the more, the better). Finally, you'll need to plan a way to surprise your friend with the performance. This could mean secretly gathering everyone in one place or having them pop up unexpectedly throughout the day. 

 One of the best things about flash mobs is that they can be tailored to any taste or interest. So whether your friend loves music, dance, or theater, you can create a performance that they'll never forget.

A beautiful bundle of flowers.

Cover Your Friend's Office in Flowers

This is a great way to surprise your friend at work on their birthday. Arrange for a team of friends to show up at the office with flowers in hand. They can then cover the office in blooms, filling every desk, table, and corner with beautiful petals. This is a great way to make your friend feel special on their big day, and it's sure to put a smile on their face. 

 You can also take this birthday surprise a step further by having the bouquets delivered to your friend's office. This way, they'll get the full effect of the surprise when they walk in and see their favorite people covered in bright blooms. 

 Either way, this is a great way to say "Happy Birthday!" and show your friend how much you care.

Buy Ad Space and Advertise Your Friend's Birthday to the World

Anyone that's ever gotten dozens of "happy birthday" messages in response to their birthday on Facebook will understand what a fun surprise a birthday advertisement can be. 

 Surprise your best friend by taking out an ad that shares your friend's birthday or that of a family member with a larger group of people. Imagine the look on their face when they see a giant birthday cake image with a message wishing them a happy birthday from all of their friends and family. 

 You can even take this birthday surprise one step further and get an ad that celebrates your friend's favorite things. If they love dogs, for example, you could get an ad with a picture of a dog and the caption "Happy Birthday, Friend! Thanks for being such a loving pup." 

 No matter what you choose, an advertising birthday surprise is sure to make your friend feel special and loved.

Plan a Birthday vacation

If you really want to surprise your best friend on their birthday, consider planning a trip for the two of you. This could be anything from a weekend getaway to a longer vacation. Just make sure to keep the destination a secret until you're ready to reveal it. The birthday person is almost certain to love the surprise. 

 A birthday trip is a great way to show your friend how much you care. It's also a great opportunity to spend some quality time together and create new memories. So whether you're planning a road trip or a trip abroad, make sure to put some thought into it and surprise your friend with a trip they'll never forget.

A couple hot, steaming pizzas.

Throw an Old School Pizza Party

Pizza is the go-to food choice for children's birthday parties in many parts of the world. It's cheap, delicious, and easy to eat. But why do kids get to have all the fun? If you're looking for an inexpensive surprise birthday idea, consider throwing the birthday girl or guy a pizza party! 

 Having a slice is a great birthday gift and likely a big surprise your recipient won't be expecting. Go all out with the trope by getting cake, ice cream, and a piñata. Having a child's birthday party, complete with party games, is an awesome moment in time your birthday person isn't likely to forget. 

 There are endless possibilities when it comes to planning a birthday surprise for your friend. So no matter what their interests or passions may be, you're sure to find the perfect idea here. So get started and go the extra mile. Your friend's birthday is the perfect excuse to do something special in their life!

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