Monday, May 21, 2012

Operation 70

My mom is turning 70 this week, on May 23rd.  This past weekend, we were able to pull off a BIG Birthday Surprise!  My mom lives at the beach in Delaware.  We managed to coordinate 17 people and get everyone there to surprise her. The majority of us were driving in from Northern Virginia, about a 3-4 hour drive.  We did have my one sister come in from California - about a 5-6 hour flight!   (Four kids along with 3 spouses/partners, 9 grand kids and 1 friend - that is a lot of people to herd together and to get them to keep it all a secret too!).    I am still amazed that she had no idea!  There were so many "stories" we had to tell her and so many factors to consider, but it all worked out and she had a great birthday weekend!

We started planning this last year.  Operation 70 evolved into Operation Chaos, then back again to Operation 70 once we pulled it off!  There were hundreds of emails and texts exchanged between my brother, sisters and me.  We were able to surprise our mom three times this weekend!  The first surprise was at a house that was supposedly for sale and she was taking a look at - everyone was hiding in the bedroom, except for my one sister who came in from California.  We had Mom open the bedroom door and did the initial surprise, then we got her to open the pantry door in the kitchen and surprised her again (we stuffed my sister from California in the pantry to hide!)!   Second surprise was the next day at a local area restaurant - she thought she was there to pick up a Groupon (I am still amazed that she knew what this was!) and we got her again!

Pulling off a big surprise is great fun!  Here are some tips to help you keep your own surprise a success!

-Plan ahead - figure out what you want to do and where you want to do it in advance! Also, plan your budget.  Whether it be a weekend away or a surprise party.  Plan as far in advance as possible!

-Keep it under wraps - do the planning in advance but not the telling!  The less people that know the better - this way you won't have to worry about letting anything slip.  We didn't invite my mom's friend until about 2 weeks before hand.  Also, don't tell the kids, especially if they are little.  They won't understand keeping quiet about it and will be so excited that they will spill the beans!

-Divvy things up.  There are four kids in my family.  Each one of us had specific tasks to take care of.  See that cake in the picture up above.  My sister who lives in California made it.  She decorated it to look like the beach and each sea shell she handcrafted in California and carried on the plane in a small cooler bag!

-Keep it real.  You want whatever "story" you come up with to get the honoree there to be believable.  It was very believable that my mom had to stop by and pick up a Groupon for my brother, not believable that she would go out and have a drink at a restaurant before dinner. 

I hope the surprise you plan is a huge success!  Have a great day!

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