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Dear Miss Mary,

My wife is celebrating a big birthday and I would just love to invite a small group of our closest friends for a surprise party. The problem is – she is the party planner at our house, and I don’t really know where to begin without her vision. I want her to just relax and feel adored.  Any tips? 


Steve R.

Dear Husband of the Year,

Oh, honey…  I am positively LIVING for this note. Do I have tips? You bet your sweet peaches I do.

#1 Rule of a Surprise Party

First, do not – I repeat, DO NOT – surprise your wife at home without giving her a reason to get herself ready. No woman, I don’t care how casual, wants to be the center of attention if she doesn’t feel her best. If that’s flip flops and lip gloss or wedges and full-face – let her feel spotlight ready. (You can make up something simple like let’s take a photo for your birthday or let’s go out for a birthday treat.)

Advice for Beginner Party Planning

The behind the scenes work for parties is the most overwhelming for new planners – clean house, theme, menu, decorations, shopping, presentation. Honestly, you can cut out all but clean house and shopping. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good when you’re a beginner, ok?

If your friends are the helpful kind, you can ask everyone to bring a dish and beverage – whether you give them a theme or not. This will leave the main event to you. Some favorite party main dishes include: pulled pork sandwiches (in a crock pot), grilled burgers/ chicken/sausages, and mini-sliders. If you look on Miss Mary’s Pinterest Board “Bloody Delicious“, we have a ton of party food shortcuts you can use. 

If you want to handle it all yourself, I recommend store-bought party food served in party dishes/trays. You’ll have enough on your plate (*giggle*) that you don’t want to be stressed over the food part of the event. Putting your wife’s favorites in actual dishes will make things look polished and important – even if you’re serving simple, unfancy food. Don’t forget plates, utensils, and napkins.

Don’t Forget the Drinks!

Last, but certainly not least, is your drink menu. This is the most fun, in my humble opinion.

I love creating a self-serve bar for friends – whatever your drink preference. Have a (clean) cooler or retro galvanized bucket of ice if your friends are bringing their own. If you’re providing the drinks, set up a station with mixers and spirits, garnishes, ice, and something to stir.

If your event leans toward the fancy, why not serve sparkling wine with a Miss Mary’s Paloma topper? Delish! If that’s not your style, I’ve never had a bad party when margaritas are being served. You can use Miss Mary’s Margarita Mix to create a wide range of flavors including pineapple/jalapeno, strawberry, mango, original lime, etc. Whatever you choose, Shake. Pour. Adore!