How did I do this without a cellphone?

30 Apr

by Flickr user joshbousel

One of my first forays into event planning was 13 years ago when I organized a surprise “This is Your Life” day for my friend’s 16th birthday. It was a 16-stop tour of the city we grew up in, culminating in a surprise party at a skating rink. We visited schools, favorite restaurants, the hospital where she was born, and other important places from her life. She was thrilled!

Here’s a step by step guide to organizing an event like this for a friend, whether she’s turning 16 or 61.

Step 1: Gather your team. This is a major coordinated effort, and you’ll need help! Call some mutual friends who you can count on. They can help you identify places to include on the tour, and can also play important roles during the day. For example, if you’re going to your friend’s favorite restaurant, and if it’s the type of place where they sing on your birthday, arrange to have a couple of other friends have a meal there and time it so that when you show up with the birthday girl the wait staff is ready to sing to her!

Step 2: Plan and map your tour. Brainstorm a list of possible sites. Consider places of work, schools, restaurants, cafes, parks, movie theatres, or any place that has special meaning for the guest of honor. If you’re driving, use Google maps to plan the most efficient route.

Step 3: Plan your activities. Several stops on the tour can have another friend waiting, along with a fun activity. As an example, for my friend’s 16th, I’d arranged for her boyfriend to be waiting at an amusement park (stop #6 on the tour) and he won her a stuffed animal at one of the arcade games.  Be creative! The last stop on the tour can be the big finish – a surprise party with all of her friends!

Step 4: Plan your travel entertainment. If you’re driving, make a mixed CD for the car with all of your friend’s favorite songs (past and present). If you’re walking or taking public transportation, you could make a trivia game to pass the time; or look at old photos. You might also want to bring some snacks for the trip.

Step 5: Create a red herring, and then…surprise! Tell your friend you’ve planned something else to celebrate her birthday, so she doesn’t get suspicious. Then show up at her door with a blindfold and let the tour begin! (For more tips on planning a surprise party, see this and this.)

Originally posted on Create My Event.


One Response to “How did I do this without a cellphone?”

  1. hisgalpal May 1, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    mmmm… red herring.

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