08/22/2013 02:08 pm ET Updated Oct 22, 2013

Throw a Top Secret Surprise Party

Though there are those rare exceptions, almost everyone loves a surprise party. And naturally, they're best when done right. Seems easy enough. But surprise parties are contingent on lots of little things going your way, so they can actually get pretty tricky. Next time you're planning one, don't just cross your fingers and hope for the best. Check out the tips I put together below to make your party planning disaster free!

Tips on keeping your mouth shut

The fastest way to ruin a surprise party is of course by ruining the surprise. Try keeping the guest list to close pals only. That way they'll be almost as invested in the surprise aspect as you are and they won't go accidentally blurting it out. And those friends you know are loose cannons? Wait till the day before to send them an invitation.

When to work on it

Usually we save extracurricular activities for evenings and weekends, but when you live with the person you're planning a party for, that's not going to fly. So pen invitations and surf the web for birthday cake recipes on your lunch hour. To get the word out, create a secret Facebook group that doesn't include your favorite party animal. You might even go old school and pick up the phone to share the details. That way there's no paper or e-trail, and snooping is not an option.

How to keep them in the dark

The idea that you'd forget their birthday when you've known them all your life, or been together for what feels like just as long is a little hard to believe. So tell them you're planning something for just the two of you. You can keep that info to yourself and let them think that's "the big surprise." But in case that's not enough, have an idea up your sleeve. And make sure to tell everyone on your list to go along with whatever excuse the birthday person gives for not wanting to celebrate their big day this year.

How to get people there

If the idea is for the party person to arrive at 8:30 and you're thinking you'll tell your friends and family to get there by 8:00 on the dot, think again. Play it safe and say 7:30. That way they'll actually get there at 8 and in time to yell "surprise." True, there might be one or two punctual guests, but most people can't help but be late to parties, even when it's a surprise. So put out a few extra hors d'oeuvres for the early birds and breathe a sigh of relief when your guests show up on time.

Choose location carefully

For the same reasons you can't plan the party in your shared home you also can't have the party in that home. And if you start walking up the steps to your mutual best friend's loft they're, um, going to know something's up. Choose your location carefully. Tell them you're taking them to a new restaurant or bar and do exactly that.

Now that you're ready to throw the perfect party, all that's left to do is yell "surprise!"