There are few things as wonderful as throwing a surprise party for your guest of honor. The payoff is great (especially the look on their faces in mid-surprise!) and there is nothing but love in the room. The party may look effortless, however, throwing a surprise party is anything but. Unlike regular events, a surprise party requires a lot of planning, quick thinking, and good friends who will corroborate your story as to not blow the cover. Here are some important things to consider while throwing a surprise party.

1. Plan Ahead

Spontaneity is a great trait to have, but not when it comes to throwing a surprise party. There are many moving parts to transform whatever space you’re using into the perfect scene. One of which is ordering party supplies. If you order ahead of time, you will likely save money (and a headache). Little things like champagne glasses, napkins, decorations, and name place cards take a while to get together.

Important note: It’s not just about the streamers. Planning ahead is pivotal with your friends as well. If you’re trying to get the guest of honor to the destination at a certain time, you need to work out the details with trusted friends.

2. Discuss with Friends

Speaking of friends: even if you’re the one throwing the party, help is always preferable. Do you know what the guest of honor likes to eat? Do they prefer a small get together or a huge bash? Discussing the details with people you both know will help create a party that the guest of honor will truly love. This will also get other people involved so the surprise can go off without a hitch!

2. Choose the Right Destination

Picking a location that is too obvious will blow the surprise. Choose an unexpected location, or perhaps transform a bar or restaurant you both have been known to visit into party central. This can take time, as well as a back and forth discussion with the owners of the establishment.

3. Customize the Cake

If you’re throwing a birthday party, cake is the centerpiece of the evening. If you don’t just want a sheet cake from the grocery store, ordering a custom cake ahead of time can take some time and imagination. What kinds of things is your loved one into? There are many cake decorating places that specialize in wacky and fun custom cakes.

4. The Other Guests

The best part about throwing a party is the guests. To ensure they’re coming or bringing a plus one, make sure you do an RSVP, whether it’s via mail or digital at least a couple of weeks ahead of time.

One of the main reasons this is important is to make sure you have enough supplies, and also to check if anyone has dietary restrictions. Even if you’re only doing appetizers or light snacks, having everyone comfortable and taken care of will make for an enjoyable evening.

5. The Moment Before the Surprise

It’s a few minutes before the guest of honor is due to arrive! Make sure your guests are all on the same page. Whether it’s turning off the lights, getting out the noisemakers, or hiding behind furniture–take this moment to thank everyone for being here to celebrate. This is also the opportunity to give them last-minute instructions before the unassuming guest of honor opens up the door.

Having the ultimate surprise party is a heartwarming way to celebrate the person you love. It takes a lot of planning and effort, but if it’s pulled off successfully, your guest of honor will be honored. They (and you!) will have delightful memories to last a lifetime.