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January 31, 2019 4 Comments


“What could possibly go wrong?” That’s what I said to friends when I told them that I had decided to throw a surprise birthday party for my husband, Mark. I love to entertain and I do it a lot, but I’d never thrown a surprise party.

I didn’t want to go to a restaurant, but no problem—we could easily entertain twenty people in our home. However I neglected to consider that my husband works from home!

Solution: hide all the party preparations. I put everything—wine, all the groceries that I didn’t need to hide in the refrigerator, and even the flowers—in the trunk of my car. But what if Mark decided to use my car? Solution: I took the key out of the car and hid it in my pocket.

Now, where to put all the chairs I had to rent? There was no place in our home and no more room in my trunk so I called on friends. When I went to pick up the chairs, there were fire trucks everywhere—maybe for the store next door? No such luck. As it turned out, it was just a dryer fire, but it meant I couldn’t get the chairs. As I started to panic—“Not to worry,” the chair renter assured me. “I’ll be happy to drop them off later.” “Thank you!” I replied after explaining it was a surprise and the chairs had to be delivered to my neighbors. “No problem,” he assured me, and I checked off another solution.

The next issue was the Bolognese sauce I had to make a few days ahead of the party. No way could I to hide the large pot. When Mark saw the quantity of sauce I was making, he asked the obvious: “Why on earth are you making so much?” Without any hesitation, I replied, “I just felt like cooking. I’ll freeze it for later”. He nodded and walked away.

The day of the party, Olivia, our daughter, took Mark out for a daddy/daughter afternoon at the mall. That gave us three hours before our guests arrived and, considering everything we had to do, it wasn’t a lot of time. I still needed to make the white clam sauce to go on the linguini.

Trust me, it never would have gotten done without lots of help and amazing organization. (I’ll explain what I discovered about organization in another blog post. For now, let me just say Post-it notes!) Tyler, our son, was the one who set everything up, and two of Olivia’s friends came by to help us finish. As guests began to arrive, I ran upstairs to change, and Tyler greeted people and served the drinks until I came back down looking like a different person.

The last challenge was to decide if we should shout SURPRISE. What if the surprise caused Mark to have a heart attack? We actually debated this! In the end we decided to just stand there and not say anything. In hindsight we probably should have shouted, but I kept remembering that I’d said, “What could possibly go wrong?” and I was superstitious!

Here are the last minute text messages between our son daughter and a friend:

Tyler: We are all set, I will tell them to be quiet when y’all pull in. The door to the kitchen is closed so he won’t see us right away. I also have 911 pre-dialed just in case.
Olivia: Hahahaha
Taylor: This is comical
Olivia: We are coming up the big hill. 2 min!
Tyler: K
Olivia: About to be there!!!! Coming down the hill. Turning in . . .


Mark was surprised, there was no heart attack, and it was a great party!

In hindsight, I discovered that it was a real privilege to create an event to celebrate someone you love. And if you stay open you always find solutions to problems.


How about you?

Have you given a surprise party?
Did it go as planned? Or were there unexpected complications?
Was the person surprised?
Were you happy you did it?
What did you learn? 


Merci, Adeline

P.S. Here is the menu (it was actually very simple)

  • Assorted appetizers (nuts, cheese, crackers, pate . . .)
  • Pappardelle with Bolognaise sauce
  • Linguini with white clam sauce (All the pasta was fresh and cooked very quickly.)
  • Cesar Salad (Mark’s favorite)
  • German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake (It is the cake his mother made for family birthdays and the only cake Mark wants for his birthday.)



4 Responses

Courtney Graham
Courtney Graham

February 14, 2019

Hi Adeline!

What an inspiration you are! Both with your gallant efforts to surprise your loved one, but also with your wonderful (and consistent) blogging! I was in Jane’s mastermind group with you years ago and have been receiving your emails ever since. Fabulous job <3 Go you!


February 01, 2019

It was lovely and executed perfectly!!


February 01, 2019

You never would have known there were so many concerns or potential pitfalls. Carried off flawlessly. Well done. Marvelous party!! Superb dinner. Great company. Cheers. Or salut as they say.


February 01, 2019

I can visualize this! But what about Mark’s surprise? I need details!

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