What shock looks like: pulling off a surprise party

There’s nothing better than planning a surprise party, committing to the white lies you tell to make it happen, and then pulling it off.

Our friends, Tami and Chris, celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in August. They are very special people who do so much for others, they kinda make you feel inadequate.

The happy couple in Paris 2015

The happy couple in Paris 2015

They’re generous with their time and willing to share anything they have with people they love– and that’s a large group. Just one example is their commitment to fostering children. They’ve cared for and stayed close with at least 6 kids in the last 3 years. They’ve also been wonderful to my kids– taking special care to understand and build a relationship with each one– and many of their friends’ kids.

They wanted to celebrate their milestone anniversary in August with a party, but after a change of heart, decided to take a trip to Paris instead. They had a terrific time but I knew they were a little disappointed to let the party idea go. So I didn’t let it go. I emailed a few of their friends and cooked up a plan to do a Sunday brunch at my house with a bunch of local families.

Not one friend hesitated for a second, in fact all jumped in to help bring food, set up, and clean up…. and help keep Tami and Chris in the dark. I sent an evite and told everyone NOT TO TELL THEIR KIDS.

Kids would surely blow the surprise– not intentionally, but almost certainly– if they were burdened with the information. Kristin Wiig expressed it best in her hilarious SNL character “lady who can’t keep a surprise,” which you can check out here.


I surprised Wilson for his 30th and again for his 35th birthdays and he didn’t have a clue. It’s very satisfying.

I did actually break the no kids rule and told Aden — who proved yet again that he is a vault. (Like Kristin Wiig , I HAD to tell SOMEONE or I would burst. Of course Wilson knew, but he doest get excited about such things.) Jacob and Eli both believed the lie I told Tami– that we were having an early birthday brunch for Eli with my mother and a few other friends.

She completely bought it. Why wouldn’t she? Her anniversary was in August, and it was a believable lie. The more I thought about the perfect plan, the giddier I became. I’m a party nerd and the days leading up  to the event I was more excited than I should have been about an adult party.

But understand that Tami is one of those people who knows everything– a busybody in the best way, her son once called her “a compulsive intervener,” because she has to be involved in it all.

So the thought of blowing her mind and gathering so many people they love in one room– well, I was hardly able to contain my enthusiasm.

There were a few close calls, but as everyone patiently waited on my back porch for them to show today, it was clear from their 30 minute tardiness that they had no clue what was going on.

surprise anniversary party on carpoolcandy.com

The look on their faces, including their son Avery in front: “What is happening?”

They walked in the back of the house and everyone yelled “SURPRISE! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!”  and they looked at us in complete confusion. It took several minutes as they walked closer to this crowd of eager faces, to figure out this was a party for them.


Then, happy, excited, and perhaps overwhelmed.

After the initial shock, everyone got down to eating– it was a delicious potluck spread, including of course, cake.

surprise anniversary party on carpoolcandy.com

As we cut the cake, Tami spoke about what a great decision it was to move to our town because of the friends they made. It is kind of funny how where you live can change who you are as a family.

Tami and I agree we picked exactly the right town.

surprise anniversary party on carpoolcandy.com

Those two love birds smooched for the crowd, and everyone went home feeling like 25 years of marriage is a great thing to celebrate.

Have you ever pulled off a surprise? Tell me about it in the comments.

3 responses to “What shock looks like: pulling off a surprise party

  1. Thanks so much Brooke!! Shocked to say the least–I am still amazed and feeling the effects of a wonderful afternoon–incredible!! Love that I am finally a full-fledged blog subject!! 🙂 xxxooo

  2. that’s it! Maplewood it is :-)!