What Is Proper Surprise Party Etiquette?

Richie Frieman
4-minute read
Episode #159

I will never forget my mom’s 50th surprise party. She lives in Florida and nearly two dozen out of town guests flew in and joined forty of her other friends for a huge surprise at a friend’s house. We all stood quietly as her car pulled up, and then just before the lights went off in her car, two of her imbecile friends quickly scooted in the door. I was furious! Luckily, she didn’t see them, since the person bringing her noticed them and distracted her. Still their rude behavior put a damper on the event. 

What Is Proper Surprise Party Etiquette?

Granted the night ended up being great, and my mom had a blast, but still, the two late guests could have ruined EVERYTHING. So, to ensure you’re not that guest who is the party pooper extraordinaire, follow my top three tips.

Tip #1:  Follow the Vince Lombardi Rule

The great football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late… if you’re late, don’t bother showing up.” That saying sums up the number one rule for surprise party etiquette. Rule #1 is just don’t be late! Be early. Be extra early, even. Have a drink, come and eat, and just make sure you are there--bottom line.

The worst thing you can do is try to beat the clock. If you are supposed to be there at 8:00, and you pull up at 7:59, don’t try to enter the party. The proper thing to do in that situation is to text or call someone you know is at the party (and on time), to see if you can still come in. If so, you book it to the front door like Indiana Jones running from the rolling boulder. 

If they say you can’t come in because it’s too risky, then get comfortable because you deserve to wait. Don’t be rude and ruin the surprise by trying to rush in at the last minute just so you can yell, “surprise!” with everyone else. If you’re late, you lose that privilege.

Tip #2: Keep It a Secret

I will admit that I am guilty of forgetting when someone’s party is a surprise or not. Sometimes when you talk to people so frequently, like in an office, you forget that their party is a surprise. After all, you and the rest of your coworkers have spent weeks discussing it so it’s easy to forget the guest of honor doesn’t know about it. That said, you must, must, must be careful. The definition of poor etiquette is ruining something someone has worked hard on completing. And there’s no excuse for it.