Help me plan a Suprise Christmas Party!
December 10, 2008 9:24 AM   Subscribe

This year, I have decided to plan a Surprise Christmas Party, mostly for my parents. Does anyone have any tips for helping me pull this off?

My family's tradition, for longer than I have been alive, has been to host a Christmas Party. Each year they have gotten bigger and bigger, and this year my father decided, much to my mother's lament, that he couldn't afford it.

They live in Chicago. I go to school in Colorado. Basically, I am planning a total potluck dinner with at least 50 guests (most of whom have been already notified) that will be a surprise to my parents.

The plan is to get them out of the house for an hour or so, only to have them return to the bulk of the guests waiting inside ready to yell "Surprise!" when they enter.

I will be flying into Chicago on the 19th, a day before the party.

This is not going to be easy. Several problems include, but are not limited to:
-What to do with the dog for the night
-How to get the house ready during the interim that they are gone
-How to plan this all from over a thousand miles away

At this point, I am close to trying to find a kennel to take the dog to. I also have plans of doing a bit of cleaning the night before the party, when my parents have fallen asleep.

Clearly, I am going to have to be answering a lot of follow-up questions. But I am looking forward to it!

Help me plan a MeFite Christmas Surprise Party!
posted by PaulingL to Grab Bag (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Having planned a surprise party before, the one thing that stuck out to me is that you need to get your parents out of the house for a lot longer than an hour or so... try more like 2-3. Can they go see a movie, or get them tickets to a show, or something like that?

Even if you tell guests to arrive at X time, chances are, you may have people arrive anywhere from a half hour prior to an hour afterwards, so you need to plan a little time buffer so the surprise isn't spoiled.

Also, it sounds like you could really use someone local to help out - would any of your parents friends be willing to be a point person? Someone who could buy party supplies, make any extra calls, take the dog kennel. With you being so far away and having the time constraints, the stress of planning and hosting could really take the fun out of it for you.
posted by dicaxpuella at 10:18 AM on December 10, 2008

I'll second the getting a local friend to help out part. I think that's the most important thing.

To get your parents out of the house for long enough, you might have some good friends of theirs invite them over for drinks or dinner, and then you can call and give the go ahead when it's time for them to come back to the house. This also has the advantage of ensuring that your parents will be dressed in a way they think is appropriate for socializing. If my grandmother were ever surprised by a party like this, she'd be mortified if she wasn't dressed for guests.

This is a really fabulous idea. When suprise parties are done properly (as this one certainly seems to be!) they're the best things ever.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:42 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

An hour is about all I will be able to get out of them, I'm afraid. More people can come early, than those that can only come late. It is perfectly acceptable that not everyone show up for the initial "Surprise!" In fact, I prefer it that way. This way, you get the initial surprise, as well as many more throughout the night when my parents see who else has shown up.

I've got some of my Mom's friends in on it. In fact, they are doing some inviting of their own. Of course, I am going to call everyone to finalize things, find out what they're bringing, etc. but it is nice not to have to do the initial invitations for people I don't know all that well.

The plan - as of now - to get my parents out of the house for a long enough period of time.
The 20th, the day of the party, my grandmother has already invited my parents and myself out to eat. A few hours before, I will say that I am not feeling that well. They will go to my grandmother's for drinks/to socialize around 4, which gives me around an hour. Then, I call them up and tell them there is an emergency. The sub pump is broken! (This happened recently, and would definitely make my Dad cancel any dinner plans and come home)

This still leaves a lot of very miniscule details that I have to plan for.

I came up with the idea to tell my parents that part of my Christmas gift is to clean up around the house while I am home. This means I can start Friday night, when I get in at O'Hare, and should severely lessen the amount of stuff I have to do in that hour interim.

I've already called a lot of friends/relatives to help me get everything ready when my parents are gone. Things like coordinating all the guests, making sure all the cars are away from the house, as well as things like making sure the house looks clean, bringing my dog to a kennel, etc.

I feel like there are just a lot of small details I have forgot. I've got things like make sure there are ashtrays in the garage and being super clear about what "potluck" means (in regards to bringing both food and alcohol) but I am not 100% content.

There's a chance everything could blow up in my face and I feel that if I don't have backup plans that is likely to happen.
posted by PaulingL at 1:33 PM on December 11, 2008

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