Throwing a Surprise Party on a Budget

Dirt of the Day

Whether your friend is reaching a milestone age or you just want to do something extra special, throwing a surprise party is a lot of work and requires lots of careful planning and attention. It’s an even bigger challenge to host a great surprise party while also sticking carefully to a budget. Fortunately, if you’re the type of person who can plan something as complicated as a surprise party, you’re probably also the type who can make a reasonable budget!


Here are a few tips to get you started on organizing a great surprise party that won’t break the bank.

Enlist Help

It will be much easier to organize a cost-effective surprise party if you don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself. A lot of times, we end up spending too much money on things that make our lives a bit easier. With help from friends or family, you won’t feel so much need to take the easier, more expensive shortcuts.


As soon as you’ve set the date for the party, start asking for help from a few trusted friends who aren’t the type to accidentally spill the beans to the guest of honor. Ask them to suggest tasks they would most like to do. If there are things you are specifically concerned about like baking a cake or decorating, designate those tasks.

Plan Way Ahead!

You are most likely to spend too much money if you’ve left too much until the last minute and you’re rushing to put everything together. If you realize too late that you’ve forgotten to take care of something like cleaning the house or baking a cake, you might be tempted to go out and buy a cake or hire someone to do some house cleaning.


Try to leave yourself at least a month to get everything in order. Planning a surprise party is harder than planning a regular party because you are working in secret. This can be especially complicated if you live with the guest of honor. So choose options that will be cheaper and easier than you might otherwise choose. Rather than sending paper invitations, use online invitations and work on them on your lunch break. If it’s going to be too complicated to take care of all of the food yourself, organize a potluck with your guests.

Pick a Convenient Location

One great way to save money is to avoid a location that will cost you extra money. So, rather than renting a hall or organizing everyone at a fancy restaurant, use your home or the home of a friend. Alternatively, you could use a free location like a local park or pool. If you live with the guest of honor, it may be impossible to host the party at home, so consider free but fun locations around you to avoid straying from a realistic budget. While you probably could host a small party at a restaurant or bar, you and your guests will probably end up spending more money on the event than you might like.

Make a Budget for Decorations and Gifts

It could be easy to go overboard on decorations, so plan your budget carefully and try to make due with things you already have or items that are on sale. Here are a few ideas to keep the budget under control for decorations:

  • Try to make use of sale items at the party supply stores. If St. Patrick’s Day has just passed, see what you can do with the recently discounted green items. Green balloons, streamers, or table covers will work just as well as ones marketed as birthday items!
  • Shop the dollar stores for cheaper or off-brand items. You may be able to get items like balloons, table cloths, cutlery, candy, and party favors.
  • Order some decorations online. If you are trying to stick to a budget, it might be easier to do this with online purchases where you can more closely keep an eye on your expenditures as they accrue. Shop for some items in bulk as you will get more for your money, and order something like a customized eSigns banner in advance as your decoration centerpiece.
  • Choose a theme for the party that will allow you to use items you and your guests already have as decorations. For example, if the guest of honor loves golf, you could have a golf-themed party and ask your guests to lend their own clubs, golf bags, golf balls, and any silly golf related items they have for you to use as decorations.


When it comes to gifts, you shouldn’t be expected to host the party and also give an extravagant gift. However, if you want to make sure the guest of honor does get a special gift, but you don’t want to put pressure on the other guests, organize your guests in advance to pool together on a gift. You can include instructions for how to help out with a particular gift in the invitations.

It’s the Thought that Counts!

Don’t worry about making your surprise party absolutely perfect, especially if you are trying to stick to a budget. The most important thing is that you plan a party that suits the guest of honor. All the effort you put into it will matter much more than the money you put into it!

Dirty and Thirty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *